From left to right : Anna Chen – NTUSTBIC’s secretary, Iman Adipurnama – Halal XYZ co-founder, Intan Dzikria – Halal XYZ co-founder, Putu Adiya Halal XYZ co-founder, Charlotte Wang – STARTBOARD Project Manager, Uniform Lin – STARTBOARD COO.
In our effort to understand Muslim community better, we had a chance to meet up with Iman, Intan, Putu, three co-founders of Halal XYZ, who develops Halal TW – a project that offers Halal experiences via mobile app in Taiwan. They shared with us their thoughts about the importance of raising awareness about Muslim culture in Taiwan, what challenges Muslim people usually have and what they are keen to see when applying Halal TW in the real life.
1. How was Halal TW founded?
The story started 4 years ago from Hadziq Fabroyir – 哈明飛 ,who now is the CEO of Halal XYZ. Hadziq was asked to help Chinese Muslim Association (中國回教協會) to organize their database of Halal restaurants in Taiwan then create a map with pins on Google. It was Hadziq who came up with the idea “Why don’t we just make an APP?” Then after that, we got together as we were studying at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST) and have been working on for Halal TW till today.
2. At first, any challenges seemed hard to overcome?
Since we are foreign students living in Taiwan, we are not really familiar with the environment here. Financial issue, language barrier, new government system, lack of networking and many other obstacles we needed to deal with. We got an idea but did not know where to begin to turn it into reality.
Then our professor from NTUST suggested that we should join a competition organized by our school’ s Business Incubation Center last October, 2016 and we got the 1st prize which greatly reinforced our belief in the future of Halal TW.
After the first achievement, we brought Halal TW to many platforms to present our ideas and continued to re-adjust, and develop in Taiwanese environment.
3. What motivates you when working in Halal TW? What impact Halal TW has created you are most proud of?
Our motivation is our intention to do good for other people. We want to help our Muslim community and introduce Halal to Taiwan. It also came from our own experiences because all co-founders of Halal TW are Muslims. Halal TW has directly influenced our lifestyle and many other Muslim people’s. Before we officially launched the APP to the public, we have self-tested many times, re-modified the functions to make it more accurate, convenient and user-friendly. One of our Muslim friends from the Netherlands came to Taiwan for studying, she used Halal TW as her guide in Taiwan. She was able to experience everything without worries about whether it was true Halal or not. She said it was one of the best trips she ever had when away from home. It also experienced by our Indonesian, Malaysian, and Singaporean friends who came to Taiwan to travel. We hope that every single user among Halal TW’s 4000 users will be able to feel that way in Taiwan.
4. Apart from the reason you are all NTUST’s students, is there any other reason for Halal TW to choose Taiwan to develop?
Of course, it was a significant point as we were in Taiwan when we started Halal TW. Finding the right co-founders who can communicate effectively, who share the same passion with others and most importantly, to make a commitment with the work is extremely helpful to start a business.
But for us, Taiwan is more than just the land of opportunities. Yes, there are so many competitions with the theme of startup spirits for students like us. But more than that, to us, Taiwanese people are really open-minded and willing to support. Halal TW would like to become the bridge between non-Muslim and Muslim community. Moreover, Halal TW is a trustworthy source to bring Halal lifestyle in general and specifically the diversity of foods to more people.
Another reason is that Taiwan is in the middle of business hot spot around Asia pacific, Especially when the government launched the New Southbound policy. We felt first-hand on the impact in the tourism, education, finance, and halal industries. But there are still much more need to be done by all stakeholders, so we are here to help them solve their problems in the Halal economy.
5. Last but not least, any advice as the encouragement for young people particularly students to do startup?
You should be prepared that it will not be easy in the long run. Sometimes you have the idea, know the goal, but you do not know how to get to it and where to go. Look for mentorship from your school’s advisors, NTUST Business Incubation Center, from STARTBOARD, listen to the stories, experiences from those who started before. Open your networking and get into startup community, opportunities are always there for those who dare to dream and stick with the dream no matter how challenging it is.
Thank you so much for your participation in STARTBOARD and wish the best for our collaboration.