Hai! Dubai startup wants anime to be talk of the town

Dubai - The platform offers four segments — lifestyle, general talk, gamers and anime fans.

The Anime Talk app  has 613 users with a weekly growth rate of around 70 per cent.
The Anime Talk app has 613 users with a weekly growth rate of around 70 per cent.

Sandhya D'Mello

Published: Mon 1 Mar 2021, 5:11 PM

Last updated: Wed 30 Jun 2021, 2:33 PM

Three friends all in their late-20s set out to start a venture, where they could continue to ‘hang out’ since they lived in different geographical locations. What posed as a need turned out to be a full-fledged startup called Anime Talk.

“My friends and I thought of Anime Talk when we came back from college and found it difficult to stay in touch. So we thought of a way to have an online majlis to compensate for the physical distance between us,” co-founder Yousif Almaazmi said.

Yousif Almaazmi, Hesham Alkhazraji and Bassam Elshorafa.
Yousif Almaazmi, Hesham Alkhazraji and Bassam Elshorafa.

Almaazmi joined hands with fellow Emirati Hesham Alkhazraji and Palestinian-American Bassam Elshorafa to create Anime Talk, an audio-only online majlis (room) that is popular with people who want to host their own talk shows and hobbyists who want to create majlises to cater to their own interests. Anyone can create public majlises and can enter or leave them; this creates a dynamic of constant content creation and connectivity. The majlises have no time limit.

The platform offers four segments — lifestyle, general talk, gamers and anime fans.

“We found anime fans to be particularly interesting because there is no social platform that caters only to them. We also found them to be particularly engaging and emotionally attached to the anime; with that knowledge, we tailored off a product that caters directly to them,” Almaazmi said.

“We also added another feature demanded by the anime fans, which is to let them user names as their handles instead of their real names. Anime fans are especially spread around the GCC and they have a huge presence around the globe. This gives Anime Talk the mother company, the ability to leverage this fanbase to grow around the world,” added Almaazmi.

The Anime Talk app was launched on December 18 on Apple’s App Store and on Google Play at the beginning of January. Currently, it has 613 users with a weekly growth rate of around 70 per cent.

The most popular rooms are about an anime called ‘Attack on Titan’; the second most popular genres are general anime discussion and collecting anime and figurines. More than 1,600 rooms were created on this platform, registering 23 per cent weekly active user growth.

“Our venture started after we were experimenting with different ways the internet enables people to connect and share things that they are interested in. Our first idea was a way to enable people to share video streaming accounts together, for example, if one has a Netflix account and the other has a Hulu account then they can share their passwords and watch different movies and episodes from different platforms, the other experiment we ran was for fresh graduates to share their profiles and interview questions with possible employers to help them get hires. We learned from both ventures valuable lessons about how people share and connect,” co-founder Elshorafa added.

The Anime Talk co-founders believe that the next big jump in content and social media will be on platforms that cater specifically to interest groups’ needs. Even though Facebook, Twitter and other mega platforms exist, it is very difficult for them to cater to every particularity of each group, which is why you have platforms such as Researchgate, HouseParty and others existing and flourishing. This gives us a unique opportunity to cater to a niche using a unique medium not well explored by the big social media companies, which is an audio-only platform.

Alkhazraji said: “We graduated a few years back and we all worked in different industries and geographic locations and so it was difficult for us to get together, and so we thought about the hangouts that we had and how spontaneous it was. And the best way for us to have that was remote. So we thought of an online majlis, and in it came Anime Talk. When we first started Anime Talk we were trying to find the best use case for an online majlis and experimented with different target audiences and interests, they were all promising and the users were of great help and value to us.

“However, anime fans caught our attention and we realised that it was an untapped market. Their engagement was phenomenal, and so we decided to focus on this niche. To make sure that we cater only to Anime fans we changed the name of the app to Anime Talk and redesigned this app around their preferences.”

The venture is looking at an ad-based and gifting model, where users can buy digital gifts and give them their friends and creators.

“I believe in the success of Anime Talk because it’s the simplest way to communicate about Anime from your phone. There are many factors to my belief; the key factor is that Anime Talk targets a specific niche. Another factor is that it keeps people safe by letting people talk from anywhere, even from home, which is a great advantage during pandemics... communication is an important activity of humanity, staying connected matters, and I believe that our app has a bright future,” said Bezhan Odinaev, who works with Anime Talk. — sandhya@khaleejtimes.com

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