6 years ago

Hobnobbing with Abul Rob from HalalEat

So, what do HalalEat do?

Halaleat.com is the UK's first on demand halal food platform listing only verified halal menus from local restaurants and takeaways.

What’s behind the business idea?

The idea behind halaleat.com was born in 2012 whilst I was working for a leading online food ordering portal in the UK.  The initial idea has now evolved into so much more and we’re now building a Muslim centric consumer Eco-System beyond just food, which will keep us very busy for the next 10 years.

Was it hard becoming a business owner?

It’s a lot of fun, however you do feel the burden of responsibility sometimes overwhelming as the primary Founder you’ve sold a vision to your internal and external stakeholders and you can hear the clock ticking to deliver results.

How did you recruit your employees?

Our team is very small at present and we’re looking for key talents through referral and introduction whilst utilising various online recruitment platform.

Was there a breakthrough moment?

The breakthrough moment has to be the validation of the business model, when we had our first order from a customer (outside of the friends & family circle).  I still remember this day; I was so ecstatic that out of happiness I cried (This was the second time I cried, the first was on the birth of my son).  Before the first order came in, I had already burned through close to £50k, and we were three months into our beta launch and we hadn’t received a single order and out of nowhere an order came in! On that first order ticket, we made only £1.20 commission, but it felt like thousands!

How is the company doing?

The company is growing and we’re adding new restaurant partners and on boarding customers all the time. As a start-up we do not have the luxury of the competitors bank balance, but we continue to move forward and refine our proposition.  Year on year we are growing at a rate of 100% and our average basket is typically higher than the established market leaders.

Do you have any regrets?

I seldom have regrets, but if I had to name or define a regret this would be an “Assumption” which I made when I started HalalEat.

I always assumed (without any hesitation) high net worth Muslim investors from the community you're trying serve will run, embrace and clamour to the concept of HalalEat outside of the three initial "F's" investors circle (Friends, Family & Fools).  I was a fool and that’s my only regret.

I have searched high and low; from London, Dubai, Malaysia, Singapore to the neighbours next door and I have yet to find a single Muslim investor with a risk appetite to support a disruptive start-up focused on serving the Muslim community. My futile search has led me to make this bold conclusion (not an assumption); the Muslim investor is not agile, can't see the vision beyond the length of its nose and is very short sighted on innovation and technology investment. Don't get me wrong; the Muslim investors out there are very smart, wealthy but they are completely risk adverse in supporting anything disruptive; their comfort zone is bricks and mortar and direct retail businesses (full stop).

Many people will disagree with my narrative here, but this is purely based on my own interaction so far.

How did you over come them?

I’ve stopped chasing them and have moved on to organically growing the business outside of the assumed “Muslim” investments coming from within the community.

We’ve successfully just raised our seed round via equity crowd funding investment and are talking to some interesting investors for our next big round. Incidentally, over 90% of the current batch of investors appears to be from the wider community and have no affinity to the Islamic faith but simply realise the opportunity that we have identified is very, very big!

What makes you stand out from your competitors?

Our values define HalalEat and we define ourselves as “Halal to the core” and by this we mean we refrain from anything that may contaminate our core values such as interest baring instruments such as credit card, overdrafts and loan as “interest” is haram (not permissible) in Islam.

What is your definition of a positive customer experience?

Be honest, transparent and treat customers like kings and always maintain engagement.

You’re currently reaching out for investors, what do you plan to do when you have raised this funding?

We just raised over initial funding target and we’re now overfunding!  Our seed investment will be used to enhance our technology proposition, marketing  and hire key talents to accelerate growth.

If you could help a business now with a single piece of advice, what would it be?

Don’t assume and if you do, consider all the variables! Business is dynamic and if you have faith in you business concept continue to hustle and don’t give up…re-group to overcome the hurdles.

Finally, Abul what is your favourite biscuit?!

Hob Nobs, dunked in tea.