In Conversation: Andree Wijaya of HaluApp

Andree is a pivotal force behind HaluApp, Indonesia's premier ACG (Anime-Comic-Gaming) platform. HaluApp aims to enrich the lives of ACG fans by fostering fan engagement and building a vibrant community, starting from the extremely hardcore fans/“weebs” before expanding the offerings to the more casual fans.

Andree is a pivotal force behind HaluApp, Indonesia’s premier ACG (Anime-Comic-Gaming) platform. HaluApp aims to enrich the lives of ACG fans by fostering fan engagement and building a vibrant community, starting from the extremely hardcore fans/“weebs” before expanding the offerings to the more casual fans.

Prior to co-founding HaluApp, Andree co-founded Twiscode and grew it to 60 professionals before getting acquired by Amartha, marking a strategic move in the ever-evolving landscape of fintech. Andree’s rich background in engineering and technology shapes him as a key player in driving the success and innovation of the emerging platform.

Q1: Can you provide an overview of HaluApp and its mission as the No. 1 Weebs Marketplace?

Approximately 2-3 years ago, I contributed to another comics platform in Indonesia by leveraging web scraping technology to gather numerous novels and comics, which were then translated using Google Translate. I white-labeled that platform, generating millions of monthly traffic.

Recognizing the substantial potential of ACG, especially in Southeast Asia, I crossed paths with Marcell and Yoshi towards the end of last year. We shared a common interest and decided to explore what features we could develop to capture this opportunity.

We quickly concluded that a consumer marketplace was the suitable go-to-market strategy. Today, ACG creators are at the heart of the platform, where fans can interact and purchase digital merchandise. The current goal is to allow our ACG creators to further build fan-creator relationships and earn more from brand partnerships. We believe this is a crucial step before introducing more IPs and merchandise mix in the platform along the way.

Q2: What is the market like for anime and comics in Indonesia? 

We want to have a clear market leadership in Indonesia as the most important ACG market. We estimate that at least 70% of the population is casual fans. Case in point: at least 50% of the Indonesian population regularly watch anime and read comics as you can see how “netizens” label the country as “Konoha”. At the same time, 1.3m tickets of One Piece Red were sold in the first 12 days (largely due to the cinema capacity).

Our initial offering allows ACG creators to earn money by selling digital merchandise (their artworks, photos, and voice notes videos). This process mainly took place through Instagram DMs and manual bank transfers, or they could use alternative platforms or servers. However, regardless of the method chosen, the common challenge was the lack of order management. When people placed orders, it essentially meant sending money, and creators had to manually consolidate everything.

Addressing this key pain point was instrumental in convincing content creators to use our platform. Essentially, we provided an e-commerce solution that managed the entire process, from listing to payment and delivery. This streamlined approach simplifies the money-making process for creators and enhances their exposure to fans.

Q3: How does HaluApp curate and organize content on the platform to ensure a high-quality experience for users?

This is a crucial aspect that we prioritized when launching the platform. We aimed for exclusivity, selecting early creators through an approval process. Only those approved could join the platform and enjoy the multi-tier benefits we provide them. 

One thing we are very strict on is to ensure that our brand remains unassociated with adult content. Marcell has personally led this effort until today. (Fun fact: the ACG community tends to cancel creators who “misuse” their favorite characters)

As we expanded to nearly 8,000 ACG creators in less than 12 months, we have recently standardized guidance. For instance, if creators upload photos without cover pages or lack examples, we provide guidance. We do highlight that products with cover pages sell 24% more effectively.

Again, however, we maintain strict policies regarding adult content. If certain boundaries are crossed, we promptly contact creators, remove the product from circulation, and advise against such content. Repeat violations lead to suspension.

Q4: How is HaluApp fostering a sense of community among anime and manga fans?

With our current strategy, our primary focus this year has been establishing strong relationships with ACG creators, concentrating on the supply side of the platform. This approach is intentional, as ACG creators naturally bring hardcore fans onto the platform for many reasons, from interactions to transactions. So as of now, we haven’t delved deeply into addressing the needs of consumers.

Starting from 2024, we will initiate efforts to identify and offer special incentives to our fan base. Nevertheless, our current emphasis remains on nurturing the supply side, recognizing that a well-supported supply side inherently takes care of the fans.

Q5: How do you view the competitive landscape for Weebs Marketplaces, and what sets HaluApp apart?

Our strength lies in the strong relationships we have cultivated with the community. The close proximity allows us to really understand their wants and needs, and our approach to treating ACG creators has set a new standard in the ACG community, starting from Indonesia. 

An illustrative example of our commitment was the HaluWeen event we organized last year, held at H Club, which marked a groundbreaking occurrence in Southeast Asia. We utilized the entire venue, ensuring select ACG creators and fans had a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This event not only brought the status quo of the creators but also attracted many brand deals to tap into a segment of the population that had been out of reach back then.

All in all, our differentiation stems from our understanding of the community, our exceptional treatment of creators, and our efforts to facilitate brand deals for those who excel on the platform. Unlike other platforms that merely provide tools, we directly impact the lives of our creators and fans, setting us apart from other platforms that aim to capture this unique segment.

Q6: Are there untapped opportunities or potential areas for growth that you’re excited about? How has Trihill Capital been helpful in that?

Trihill Capital’s assistance has been invaluable in navigating through the up-and-down journey. Their vast network has opened many doors for us translating to swift progress, while their never ending support to the management ensures we maintain a clear focus in the short/medium/long term.

Our plan is to build this platform in the long term, a goal well communicated to Trihill Capital from the outset. The focus on building a robust user and creator base aligns with our objective to successfully become a market leader in the medium term. By making a significant impact in the ACG market across the region, we aim to capture the market swiftly.

Q7: How do you envision the future of HaluApp in the next few years?

Providing a marketplace and fan interaction platform is just the beginning. We aim to enable transactions, opening up opportunities beyond just Indonesia.

Edited by: Alwyn Rusli, Daryl Lim

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