It has been almost three years since Shahbaz Mirza joined the 11th WIEF in Kuala Lumpur which helped launch his Ramadan Legacy app in 2015. Now, with a quarter of a million users, he’s still looking to expand.
After serving a quarter of a million Muslim users worldwide, founder of the world’s first fully featured app for Ramadan, Ramadan Legacy, Shahbaz Mirza still won’t call himself an entrepreneur. ‘I sort of fell into the world of entrepreneurship because I was sort of frustrated with the products and services that were out there and I wanted to build Islamic educational products and services,’ he says.
Growing up as a Muslim in the United Kingdom, Shahbaz finds it tough to balance work and religious beliefs. ‘Ramadan Legacy is an attempt to try and make Islamic education slightly more interactive, modern and provide a better user experience for the 21st century Muslim,’ says Shahbaz.
In 2018, he was listed among the 500 who make up the Islamic economy. Through his educational company, Ramadan Legacy, he empowers people to learn, love and live Ramadan. ‘We have a flagship product which is the Ramadan Legacy mobile app and subsequent products such as workshops, a planner and online courses to help people further enrich their experience with the month of Ramadan,’ he says.
In 2015, Shahbaz joined the 11th WIEF in Kuala Lumpur which helped launch the Ramadan Legacy app. He says the platform, network and individuals there are what helped launch the app. ‘WIEF is a great platform where there are so many different types of target audiences and stakeholders. You can pitch or talk about an idea and guarantee there’ll be someone there, with a similar view and vision, to come on board and help. It really helped to have that widen network to promote the app,’ he recalls.
Enhancing the Ramadan experience
Though some people may think technology can be a distraction, especially from religious affairs, Shahbaz believes apps and other technologies can provide a better user experience. He feels that apps and technologies can learn what users’ habits as well as goals are and motivate them to achieve that. ‘Apps and technologies provide this sort of go-to learning companion and it’s infinite,’ he says.
Why Ramadan Legacy? Just like wanting to know how you’re doing in fitness, eating or even how many likes you have on Facebook, Shahbaz says people have this interest to also know how they’re doing in religious affairs. The gamification aspect of Ramadan Legacy helps users understand where they’re at with their spirituality in the month of Ramadan and where they need to go. ‘I think it [the gamification aspect] makes it [Ramadan Legacy] a bit more fun and friendly and provides a user experience that’s motivating,’ he says.
It’s designed for Muslims in Ramadan but it can be used outside of Ramadan and even by non-Muslims. The app sends automated reminders on significant days of fasting throughout the whole year and helps complete missed fasts after Ramadan.
A lot of non-Muslims also use the mobile app because they want to learn about Ramadan and experience fasting as well. ‘I also have a friend who’s a rabbi in the United States who used the app to teach his congregation what Ramadan is and promote interfaith. So, I think indirectly the app is being used by non-Muslims,’ he notes.
One of Shahbaz’s favourite features in the app is the planner section which is the main section in the app. ‘It’s like a tick box of what you need to do every day in Ramadan. I believe as young professionals and Muslims there’s a lot to be getting on with, your work, your family, your projects and your career. So, the planner section keeps you in check,’ he explains.
App Store and launch
The most memorable moment for the Shahbaz Mirza was when he and his team submitted the Ramadan Legacy app to the App Store for the first time.
‘So, we [the team] were sitting down, we had pizza and crisps and all the rest of it and we were submitting the app on the App Store for the first time and we were hoping that nothing went wrong. This was a very tight deadline for Ramadan 2015 and as we all sat there we submitted it, it was a great achievement, a great milestone,’ he recalls.
Since 2015, Ramadan Legacy has created a Ramadan Legacy Planner which helps those who aren’t digitally inclined. ‘We want to create this fidgetal brand where we have physical and digital products,’ he explains. The team also launched its successful LaunchGood campaign this year, selling out their campaign in almost ten days. ‘We also have an online course and a few online workshops as well,’ he adds.
Shahbaz and his team are still working on the wider vision of Ramadan Legacy which is to create Islamic educational products and services.
He advises young entrepreneurs entering fields in the Islamic economy to be patient with their ideas because the success that people often see in stories have taken years. ‘I think what you find in entrepreneurship is a fan fair of having immediate success,’ he says.
Shahbaz believes an idea shouldn’t be launched unless it’s perfectly clear to the person what it is they want to do. ‘If you have an idea don’t serve a pie to customers unless it’s fully baked,’ he ends.
My last words on the app
As a person who doesn’t like a cluster of apps on my phone, Ramadan Legacy is definitely a keeper and very easy to use for me. After downloading and logging in, a few pleasant notifications appear to help adjust the settings. Then the planner displays the date and first day you start using the app. That’s where the checklist with icons of fasting, praying and reading Quran are and you can tick them off once performed every day.
Besides the planner, I like the reflections section where people from around the world share views, like and comment on others. There’s also a charity page directed to where you can donate and an overview of your 30-day performance that also has a personal section for journal entries which I’ll definitely use.
Stay tuned for more of WIEF’s Young Leaders Network (WYN) initiatives for startups and entrepreneurs.