Ever since the growth of the internet age, we have seen a drastic change in consumer mindsets. With the advent of e-commerce and online purchasing, now sellers with what were considered ‘niche’ products have a wider net to cast to reel in people with the same interests.
The industry started out catering for technophiles looking for very specific components for their assemblies, but it has now grown to encompass a very wide variety of groups whose needs have not been otherwise catered to.
One of these niche groups that have benefited from this transition are the Muslims.
An Untapped Market
Long-gone are the days of top-down media content. With the two-way communication that the social media age allows, Muslims are now better able to access the types of content and services that better suits their restrictions.
And the Muslim market is no small fish to fry. Muslims number 1.6 billion people worldwide, representing 23% of global population. And among those Muslims 257,000,000 of them live just in Southeast Asia. Islam-centric enterprises have a rich target demographic to pluck from if they know how.
Therefore, it is no surprise that we saw a prevalence in halal-orientated startups at the MaGIC Accelerator Program Asian Demo Day last week for Cohort 3, a supply to meet the massive demand.
The MaGIC Accelerator program is an ongoing effort run under the Malaysian Government to empower startups with potential by giving them tools and insight from mentors.
MaGIC aims to invigorate the Asian startup scene, and build a community among startups to further benefit them and the consumers over time.
Throughout the Demo Day pitching session last week, cohort 3 was described as one of the more diverse of the bunch they have worked with so far, with good reason. Between a platform that you can use to improve your golf game (Another Shot Golf) to on-demand laundry services, (Laundry On The Go) there is no shortage of variety in this cohort.
Even then, it is easy to notice that many of the startups featured were of the more Halal persuasion, proof in the pudding about the potential in the Halal market.
Malaysia has become an international model for the Halal food industry worldwide, but the Halal certification process here proves to be an ordeal for businesses to adhere to. It is often seen as slow, complex and expensive.
This is where QuikHalal comes in, with its first cloud-based mobile halal auditing app that is said to be easy to use, cost-effective and able to reduce the auditing time by half.
It simply reduces the bureaucracy in reporting for Halal audits by allowing businesses to take easy on-site audits and auto-generate reports. JAKIM has even expressed interest in QuikHalal’s product and they plan to sign an agreement by 2017.
A project by Madcat World, PeaceBeUponYou aims to reduce the confusion that comes when Muslims use Google as their sole point of reference for matters relating to Islam. As per the norm with the internet, Google searches often yield multiple interpretations of the same text, which at its worst induces Syubhah (Uncertainty on something’s Halal or Haram status) among the followers.
The app aims to address the confusion, and serve as a trusted point of reference, vetted by top Islamic scholars. The app itself is free, but there will be a subscription fee for Premium services.
3. Royale Demure
Seeking to provide a solution for young designers who want to stamp their own identity on a design, Malaysian platform Royale Demure is a kickstarter-style platform that allows designers to submit their designs for customers to pledge to. Once a target is met, the designs are produced by the Royale Demure team into actual garment pieces that can be worn and sold.
While it is an idea that would pique the interest of any budding designer, Royale Demure’s focus is on the modest fashion community who can now design clothing that is better catered to their needs, and is a platform that aims to cultivate designers for modest clothing.
4. Styline Collection
This Bangladeshi e-commerce site aims to house all Muslimah-related garments such as hijabs, abayas and accessories under one roof—at reasonable prices. Styline Collection has been operating in Bangladesh so far, and aims to expand into the ASEAN region.
Now, hijab enthusiasts can find hijab-related products 10 times faster, according to founder Khobaib Chowdhury. While there are already a couple of websites that has a category catered to Muslims, a site that is specialised just for Muslimwear might just be the ticket into streamlining all of the Instagram Hijab sellers in Malaysia under one roof.
HalalBuddy looks at the Muslims’ dietary restrictions and chooses to focus on whether the ingredients in a product are Halal or not, rather than the Halal logo. While Halal certification is a good way for Muslims to ascertain the Halal status of their food, this is unfortunately not possible all the time for Muslims who travel or live in Muslim minority countries.
The app is able to search multiple ingredients at a time, cutting down search time tremendously. They have even spoken about a potential future where users can simply scan menus or take photos of ingredients to ascertain its halal status, but of course this baby startup has to grow even further first.
The startups are certainly delivering for the Muslims of the world. With the Startup trend flourishing among the population of ASEAN countries, we are looking forward to a future that is more accepting and accommodating for all individuals regardless of creed.