Being Muslim is not just about religious practice—it’s a mindset and way of life. There is a particular family culture that also goes along with being from the African diaspora, independent from being Muslim.”
“Unlike other apps on the market, Ziefah Health recognizes that the one size fits all model doesn’t work—we will ask our clients to share their priorities with us, so we can best serve them,” explains Yillah. “In addition to our app, we plan to host a bi-monthly peer support group to help young Muslims learn and practice wellness tactics to support their life-long mental health journey.”
Yillah worked with General Assembly on the Ziefah Health app. “I’m running two three-month programs to develop, nurture, and convert customers. I’m running a low-tech version of the app to refine the provider matching and vetting process, understand my client's needs, and ultimately convert these early adapters into customers. It’s a two-sided marketplace model, so I must get the business model right. I’m also shopping for tech partners to integrate with the app. This isn’t a business that’ll be an overnight success—much groundwork is involved!” says Yillah.
Yillah’s Kogod experience equipped her with the confidence and the knowledge required to take on such an important task. She credits Kogod professor Tom Kohn’s entrepreneurship course with teaching her the foundational skills needed to create a business plan and turn it into a reality. “I was familiar with the lean startup method, but I never put it into practice until Tom Kohn’s class. Ash Maurya’s book coined this term and is still a source of inspiration and guidance.”
I received so much advice from classmates and professors like Professor Bill Bellows. He was the one who suggested creating the peer support group with the idea of providing a service but also getting insight into the needs of youth."
"Dr. Walters-Conte, who works closely with the American University Center for Innovation, also helped me pinpoint the root of the problem I am trying to solve by doing root-cause analysis with me," says Yillah.
As Yillah continues to work on her startup mental health app, she remembers that the life of an entrepreneur is not always easy, but when her idea comes to fruition and helps create meaningful change in the world, it will be worth the years of hard work.
“The greatest advice I can offer young entrepreneurs and Kogod students is to remain inquisitive—you really don’t know everything. Don’t assume you know what your customers want. Ask your customers many questions and lean on your Kogod network for support and guidance,” says Yillah.