The circuit breaker period was especially challenging for home-based businesses as operators were forced to temporarily cease operations, or face a S$1,000 fine.
There was a huge uproar from the home-based business community, who were unprepared for the abrupt halt in income.
Shane Ehsan Hew, who is a Muslim convert, wanted to find a way to help these struggling home-based businesses and came up with the idea of a food delivery platform.
He is very much aware that the ‘big three’ — GrabFood, Deliveroo and foodpanda — dominate the food delivery market in Singapore, and that there are plenty of other small-scale food delivery services vying for a slice of the pie, but his platform aims to be different.
Called Halal with Hew, it focuses on halal home-based F&B businesses.
A Business Born During Circuit Breaker
Shane, together with his wife Junisa Jamel, first came up with the idea over a year ago but they have yet to fully develop their business plan back then.
When the circuit breaker took place, it coincided with the fasting month, which greatly dampened the festive mood.
Ramadan bazaars had to be cancelled and there were people like us who didn’t know where, and who to order Hari Raya goodies from.
We decided to pull halal home-based businesses (together) to join us on Halal with Hew to make it easier for customers to browse, preorder and receive their orders quickly.– Shane Ehsan Hew, co-founder of Halal with Hew
According to Shane, ordering from home-based businesses are oftentimes a time-consuming process due to back-and-forth communications on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook.
With Halal with Hew however, a customer can “browse and complete their order within three minutes.” Once an order is confirmed, the customer will be promptly notified via email and SMS.
But why are they focusing on just home-based businesses? Why not include halal restaurants as well?
“We gave a lot of thought into this, but we are not rushing into it. The home-based businesses themselves are more than capable (of providing) restaurant-quality food, so we fully support their talents by providing this platform for customers,” Shane explained.
However, they do have a few restaurants onboard such as Mediterranean restaurants Hulwayat and Kebabwala Food.
Over 100 Merchants Onboard
The 30-year-old Shane is a car sales executive and his 27-year-old wife is a teacher.
While juggling their day jobs, they launched Halal with Hew in May 2020.
The balancing act between a full-time job and running a business took “a lot of time and effort,” admitted Shane.
While it wasn’t easy, he was glad to have his wife as a business partner.
“Working together has been a breeze because we take care of each other’s feelings and look out for each other to make sure that neither of us are overworked,” said Shane.
It’s also heartening to know that Shane is not a rookie entrepreneur. He was once a home-based business owner himself, selling a variety of products online since he was 16.
Although venturing into the entrepreneurial space is a familiar thing for him, he said that the journey was still fraught with challenges.
Funding for one, is always a concern.
He did not disclose how much was invested into the business, but revealed that it’s “purely bootstrapped” with no external funding.
Naturally, finances are tight and a lot of tasks still require manual work.
When we started, all we focused on was getting as many home-based businesses onboard as possible. We decided to give those that are interested a free one-month trial.
This period allowed us to dip our foot in the market to adapt and refine our ideas and along the way before we officially launch.– Shane Ehsan Hew, co-founder of Halal with Hew
From their pioneering 17 merchants, Halal with Hew has grown to over a hundred merchants today.
Sharing more about business challenges, Shane said that they struggled with logistics and deliveries at first.
When they first started out, Shane conducted the deliveries personally but as orders increased, he had no choice but to outsource for delivery personnel.
“It was one of the first red flags we found when we started the business. With islandwide delivery, traveling takes a lot of time for our delivery team and delivering. We would message customers to inform them of delays at times,” said Shane.
Over time, they have increased the number of delivery guys to four people and created a wider timeframe for deliveries to improve customer satisfaction.
S$6 Delivery Fee, Regardless Of Location
Typically, when you order from home-based businesses, their delivery fees will vary depending on the distance.
If you happen to live far from the seller’s house, the delivery fees can be quite hefty.
In the early days, Halal with Hew started off with the “market rate” of S$10 for islandwide delivery.
“As the sales picked up, we invested some of our earnings into deliveries. Right now, customers will only have to pay S$6 for islandwide delivery.”
Questioning the cost sustainability in the long run, Shane simply said that he will leave it in God’s hands and will work harder to “push it even lower than S$6”.
When I probed about their business model, Shane described it as “not profit-centric”.
It all goes down to our purpose of starting this business, which is to help home-based businesses come together, and making it easier for customers to order intuitively via our website without any hassle.– Shane Ehsan Hew, co-founder of Halal with Hew
Since inception, Halal with Hew has generated revenue of over S$32,600.
Encouraged by the positive numbers, Shane said that Halal with Hew plans to expand and look into hawkers and restaurants in the future.
Featured Image Credit: Halal with Hew