This is a guest post by Shahzad Younas, Founder & CEO of Muzmatch.
After a long successful career as a Trader at Morgan Stanley, one of the large American Investment Banks, I decided to leave the world of banking behind and start my own venture. I had been itching to be my own boss, and be more in control of my destiny. I wanted to do more to actually help others and have some more meaning to my life. I wanted to be even more successful – both in this life and Inshallah in the next.
From my time in Finance, I had many opportunities to network with other similar Professional Muslims in that field across various banks and Institutions. It was here I realised that many Muslims were single, yet despite their success in their careers and chosen field, many of them really struggled to find their other half. I spoke to many ladies and gents on this topic and I realised it was a big problem.
In my later years at Morgan Stanley I started muzmatch. It was a Muslim Marriage website which focused on quality – quality profiles and quality service to its members. Plus it was very affordable and operated on a Pay As You Go model.
Alhamdullilah it was successful and led to over 4 marriages (that I know of!). However from running the website I realised that many users found such web based services to be slow, expensive, inaccurate and very disappointing to use. It was a long process to search for someone, then to message them and then to wait for a response (or none at all). Furthermore there were too many people who used the anonymity of websites to portray a false picture of themselves.
At this time mobile apps were gaining real traction and western style “dating” apps such as Tinder were proving very popular.
Looking at Tinder I could see some positives from its mode of operation – firstly that it would show location based matches, as more importantly that before any conversation can take place, both parties must show mutual independent interest first. I thought, if I could take the good from this, whilst combining this with more Islamic principles, I could really create something which would genuinely be useful, convenient and safe for Muslims worldwide.
I felt passionate about making a real difference and creating something of real quality. I decided to leave Morgan Stanley and pursue a career as a Tech Entrepreneur. I spent the next month learning how to design and build apps for Apple. Four months later the muzmatch app was released! Another month later I learnt how to build Android apps and then released it for the Android platform.
I focused on making the app as Halal, safe and private as possible whilst also catering to the diverse range of Muslim’s that exist – from those who are moderately religious to those who are very religious. I made the focus clearly for Muslims seeking Marriage, whilst particularly paying attention to the needs and sensitivities of Muslim ladies.
Firstly ensuring that ladies can set their photos to be fully private, and only show them as and when they feel it is suitable to do so. Also all members can add a Wali/Guardian to their account, who will then have the ability to watch over all conversations taking place. The principle of mutual interest was key – specifically as it prevents the barrage of messages many ladies will acknowledge receiving from hundreds of men when using traditional Muslim Marriage websites.
Some technological features of mobile phones really lend well to making muzmatch more secure for our members. Firstly we show you other single Muslims who are actually nearby (using your phones GPS). This cuts out those who purport to be from different countries as is often the case with normal marriage websites. Also we recognised that many people wished to remain private and not connect such apps to their Facebook or other social media, hence we verify each member using their actual phone number. This allows us to permanently block any unsavoury characters as well as to ensure that each person only has a single muzmatch account.
Feedback thus far has been incredible – many of our members love the app and love how it operates. We are constantly tweaking and improving things along the way but Alhamdullilah our growth is testament to the real need there is by Professional Muslims.
We see the process of finding someone for marriage as a real cornerstone of our deen and so we aim to keep this service free to all. We plan to really market the app further and grow our userbase so we can play our role in bringing Muslims together for marriage.