Earlier this year, a new app was introduced specifically to Jakarta’s party goers. Started by best friends Melissa Kowara, Russell Cameron, Bayu Soedarsono, and Affan Helmy, Sindhèn App is the hottest app right now that aims to provide users with comprehensive listing of over 300 clubs, bars, lounges, and restaurants in Jakarta. With a simple tap on your screen, you can book tables, request guest list and claim the best deals and, soon, purchase tickets and even pay a down payment to bookings.
What’s New Jakarta sat down with Affan Helmy and Ikhsan Bimoseno of Sindhèn App to talk about the app and Jakarta’s bustling night life.
How did you guys come with the app?
Affan: Myself, Bayu, Melissa, Russell went to college in England, and whenever we came back to Jakarta for holidays we always stumble upon the same problem; we never really know what went on in Jakarta. Jakarta is really massive and every part has its own scene. Sometimes, the place we usually go to is closed. From this problem, the idea came up; why don’t we make an app and make life easier for everyone? Compile information about venues, events, so you can just scroll through; we want to be a bridge between the user and the nightlife venues.
Tell us a bit about Sindhèn’s main features.
Affan: Currently we are at version 2.0; there’s a table booking, photo gallery of events, app-exclusive article collections, and in the near future once we have sorted out the payment gateway, we will add an option to pay down payment for bookings and also purchase tickets for concerts, festivals, etc. But for now the biggest use would be the events and venues listing. This app exists to help people get around and have a great night out in Jakarta, to a very specific preference. i.e. whether you’re in the mood for whiskey bar, soju, etc.
And why chose the name ‘Sindhèn’?
Affan: One of our founders is Javanese, and he proposed the name Sindhèn, like the Pesindhèn (traditional women singers) of the old days where in the keraton parties they used to be the voice of the party. We wanted to take that same image to how the parties are today in the modern days. So Sindhèn is the voice of the party in Jakarta today.
Are there any special deals that the users can get from using the app?
Ikhsan: If you’re asking about more about whether users will get free stuff with the app, yes they will. If it’s our own events, we will give discounts or even free entry just by showing the app. But it all depends on the kind of events and how involved we are in helping out the venues out.
Affan: In the next phase, we will have a deals section, where the venues can post up a selection of deals and promotions. But the most tangible deals for users would be the guest list, because we get a quota every weekend of about 15 guest lists to all these places, so you can request to be included in the guest list through the app.
How has Sindhèn been faring up so far since the launch?
Affan: We’re getting a lot of traction from the right groups of people, we’ve had over 24,000 downloads and we’re trying to get some seed funding. We held Tech in Asia’s after party, where we got quite a lot of attention from the tech giants in the region, and have been offered some meetings with a lot of VCs (Venture Capitalists). So, this is definitely a transitional period for us.
What has been the most challenging stage of building the app?
Ikhsan: Data mining is pretty tough; we kind of carved the niche for ourselves, which means that the information that we need isn’t readily available out there. In the beginning Affan and Russell had to personally call these venues one by one and even explain the music to them. To get the actual database started.
Affan: The hardest part would be to change people’s habit; we basically created the mobile app platform for nightlife booking services. Here people still call up a place to book, because a mobile app is still considered so arbitrary. But we are also riding the wave of the Gojek app as well, and people start to open up to the option.
Do you see more people booking through the app?
Affan: there’s definitely a positive increase, and we’ve also increased the people handle our bookings, documentations, and also in terms of our involvement with the venues. Initially we needed to call and ask them to send us their flyer for events, deals, but now a lot more venues approach us, and start to understand the app’s value.
To be listed, do the venues need to pay a certain fee?
Affan: Venue listings are free of charge, but we also currently offer membership packages for venues, ranging from silver to platinum, which consists of premium venue, events and deals listings, events & deals promotion and documentation package.
Ikhsan: But as far as listing goes, the more the merrier. The more people and places we can help, the better as we try to be the most comprehensive nightlife bible.
In brief, how do you describe Jakarta’s nightlife?
Affan: There is so many choices, for everyone; you can have a chill night out at live music events, you can also have a hard night out during the weekday at around SCBD or (Jakarta) Pusat area, you can have rare whiskey or cocktail at places like Nip & Dram, Artoz, and kick back and listen to some jazz, or you can check out the ‘underworld’ of Jakarta club at Kota side. People come from as far as Mainland China to check out clubs like Colloseum, that’s the reputation they have.
Ikhsan: We’re definitely on the map. Emerging would be one word to describe it.. versatile would be the another. These newer venues opening up around Jakarta are dynamic. They could be a restaurant during the day but also a bar during the evening and maybe even a lounge / club type of situation during the late night. Some of the venues would provide a catering service but would also bring in top class international DJs at the same time. They’re crossing the boundaries of what people expect a venue to be and what it can be which is exciting to watch.
Any nightlife tips for Expats?
Affan: In places like Kota, open your mind. Especially for expats that probably have never been to this part of the world. It can actually be great fun, you will be surprised at the experience. Or you can go to clubs like Empirica or Blowfish and get the similar quality and experience with clubs in UK or USA .
SindhènApp is available for download on the AppStore and Google Play.