Entrepreneur Fateh Ali aims to unveil his Muslim tech startup at Ramadan
- 18 April 2019
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Fateh Ali, an Indian-born entrepreneur, want to see Millennials do more of two things that aren’t often associated with each other: visit mosques daily and and contribute more to the community. Fateh and his partner Mohamed Hussain are launching a startup named Collabdeen that aims to help people do just that, wherever they are in the world.
That last bit is especially important for Fateh. Now in his thirties, he has been based in Singapore for a decade, but the tech entrepreneur was born in Bangalore and spent most of his career between Fidelity Investments in India and JP Morgan in Singapore. But he believes his work on the nuances of “Muslim tech” and CollabDeen became possible when he met his destiny.
The trigger for developing CollabDeen, a smart mosque app based on Amazon Web Service and expected to be launched during this Ramadan, came when he realised that most Muslims are yet to adopt technology to the fullest to communicate and interact with their community.
His has an ambitious plan: get all Muslims, their brands and businesses signed up and verified on his platform so they can interact and resolve problems using AI, machine learning and other technology.
“We want to provide the best and latest technology to mosques and the Islamic community globally, regardless of size, geography and language; the real intention here is to bring Muslims together while I help them save time (productivity) and money (cost effective solution) for their communities,” Fateh told My Salaam.
CollabDeen aims to provide every Muslim with a smartphone, tools to access local community events, live streaming, and enhanced engagement via personalised content. But Fateh says, “this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as services from this platform is concerned.”
Fateh has a clear vision for this startup: "CollabDeen is not a religious platform. It’s a social technology product that fits into the lifestyle of Muslims. Our aim is to make the platform affordable and sustainable for global communities."
Developing a technology platform from the ground up is relatively expensive in Singapore, so Fateh has set up his startup’s development hub in India with the headquarters in Singapore. He told My Salaam that he has spoken to at least 250 mosques and Muslim community centres, from Sydney, to Jakarta, to Malaysia, to see how technology can be used to help the ummah.
The app’s latest features include CollabDeen Business Communities, which focus on value creation for brands and businesses by leveraging the app’s huge database and target audience.
Fateh and his team did their own analysis and concluded that 5 per cent of the global Islamic economy’s spend on marketing is on social media, whose algorithms sometimes falter in spotting the correct target audience for a brand.
“In general, every company spends 8 to 10 per cent of their marketing budget on social media and other ad platforms. Collabdeen is specifically for Muslims. We have a strong [grasp of] how Muslims behave and hence can create better value for small enterprises trying to make a mark in the global community.”
While his team is busy tying the loose ends of its beta version released in Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, India and the US, Fateh assures he made some good progress in promotion. “During our most recent event at MIHAS in Malaysia, we successfully engaged and won over potential brands and businesses for early partnerships and collaborations,” he said.
Fateh has nurtured a spirit of entrepreneurship from a very young age, when he saved money buying fresh vegetables from villages instead of his city and then from the savings sponsored books and pencils to students in a village. In Singapore, he tried many businesses after working hours, including designing websites and launching portals. This spirit culminated when Imran Bhojani, whose business group which deals mostly in minerals and metals, took a liking to Ali and his team’s enthusiasm and decided to fund more than half a million dollars in CollabDeen.
“We had the opportunity to collaborate with the company’s leadership team in the past, enabling us to discover pure skills and passion like no other. Before investing, we tested the viability of new-but-promising business and study the market entry, there was a huge opportunity, which came with risk,” Bhojani told My Salaam. “We knew the challenges the Muslim communities are facing globally. However, when we asked the masses to name a Muslim yech entity who is solving the challenges, the reply we received was ‘None’.”
Bhojani has pledged more funding as he is convinced its founders have a clear vision for the company’s future. “We want to share with the ummah the benefits of technology and digitalisation. CollabDeen will empower the ummah to increase productivity, community building, innovation [and] security, thus achieving its primary focus: to bring benefits to all and create a harmonious, coexisting world to live in.”
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