What it is, who to follow, and how you can join the club.
By Aiden Jewelle Gonzales
While the realities of lockdown last year saw the meteoric rise of apps like Houseparty and Zoom, recently, another contender has emerged in the wake of our increasingly connected, and digitised, world. Clubhouse is an invite-only, audio-based app limited to iPhone users, but despite its caveats, its success has been especially notable over the past few months, with its current valuation at USD 1 billion, according to Techcrunch. An Android version is reportedly on the way, which promises a more active following in India, as currently only three percent of smartphone users in the country have an iPhone.
But how does one score an invitation, and once you do, how do you use the app, and who or what do you follow? We’ve put together a guide for all of us who’ve had to hang up our dancing shoes the last few months and need another kind of club to keep us occupied on Friday nights.
WHAT IT IS, AND HOW TO USE IT.
Unlike fight club, the first rule of Clubhouse is to talk about Clubhouse, or more specifically, talk in Clubhouse. Created by Paul Davison and Indian-American Rohan Seth, the app launched in March 2020 but quickly became a worldwide craze because of its exclusivity and the appearance of celebrities like Elon Musk, whose talk on SpaceX and colonising Mars in February this year landed the app on everyone’s radar.
Although subs on Reddit like r/ClubhouseInvites, or even apps like Shopee, will unofficially sell invites, we’d discourage you from paying as chances are, you’ll have a friend with an invite or two to spare – and with the latest update, they can do so using just your phone number. There’s also a waiting list you can join, though there’s no guaranteed length of time for the wait.
Once you’ve used your invite to sign in, you’ll have a wealth of ‘rooms’ that you can listen in to live, and participate in by raising your virtual hand and waiting to be chosen by the club’s moderators to go ‘on stage’ (denoted by a microphone icon by your name). Even when a room reaches its upper limit of 5,000 listeners, you might get the chance to personally interact with the likes of Oprah; Mark Zuckerberg; or even Thailand’s ousted Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, who made waves with his candid discussion of Thai politics, all while using the bemusing alias, ‘Tony Woodsome.’
You can also create your own room and host a discussion with likeminded people on any topic under the sun.
WHAT CLUBS TO FOLLOW
No matter what you’re into, there’s a club for it. The topics of Thailand’s most popular clubs range from anti-aging tips, to GOT7, digital marketing trends, and cannabis. Like any elite society, most clubs will have membership instructions, such as inviting a certain number of people. You can also see any upcoming scheduled talks, in case you want to set your alarm at 2am so you can hear Putin rap (he’s reportedly considering it after Elon Musk asked him to on Valentine’s). Don’t know where to start? Here are some to follow:
• MORE THAN MASALA: “the official club for Indian foodies living in all parts of the world” which explores Indian food through a historical lens;
• STARTUP BATTLES: the 2nd biggest Clubhouse club globally, with some of the world’s most well-known celebrities and Silicon Valley experts, discussing topics from Blockchain to influencer marketing;
• THE INDIAN STARTUP CLUB: with over 8,000 members, this is one of the biggest clubs dedicated to the Indian diaspora, with AMAs (‘Ask Me Anything’) from some of the biggest names in the Indian startup ecosystem;
• AYURVEDA & WELLNESS COMMUNITY: a place to explore evidence-based Ayurvedic therapies;
• SOUTH ASIA CULTURE (CLUB): the original and biggest club to explore South Asian movies, food, literature, events, Bollywood, and more;
• THE SKINTHUSIAST: a club with top makeup artists, aestheticians and dermatologists, who discuss all things beauty and skincare;
• AMPLIFY: often moderated by Arjun Rai, the CEO of HelloWoofy.com, this club champions and offers valuable advice to small businesses from entrepreneurs worldwide.
WHO TO FOLLOW IN THAILAND:
Here are some notable people in and from Thailand to follow, who regularly host interesting rooms. Take note, however, that the Thai government has issued a warning against discussion of illegal topics:
• Dave Malhotra: a self-proclaimed ‘Clubhouse expert’ who’s built Central Group’s food delivery platform and now hosts rooms to discuss entrepreneurship and startups in Thailand;
• For those of a political bent: Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the leader of the now-dissolved Future Forward Party; Korn Chatikavanij, the KLA Party leader;
• Yuthlert Sippapak: a film director of Killer Tattoo (2001) fame;
• Pavin Chachavalpongpun: a well-known academic, currently in exile in Japan, who has hosted several controversial topic discussions.
WHO TO FOLLOW IN THE REST OF THE WORLD:
Aside from big-name Silicon Valley and Hollywood celebrities, there have been a few members of the Indian diaspora who are making waves within the app, and are worth a follow. Unfortunately, the best-known celebs in India are yet to join, but here’s hoping that once the Android version launches, we might get the chance to discuss all things Bollywood with the likes of Shah Rukh Khan or Karan Johar:
• Rohan Seth: the co-founder of Clubhouse who co-hosts regular ‘Town Hall’ talks to discuss a variety of topics with anyone in the app who wants to join in;
• Pankaj Jain: an angel investor and the COO of Workomo, who has 20+ years of experience in hedge funds, startups, and venture capital, and is the founder of the Indian Startup Club;
• Arjun Rai: regularly hosts rooms to support small business owners and anyone interested in digital marketing;
• Balaji Srinivasan and Naval Ravikant: Silicon Valley venture capitalists who hosted a ‘Startup Bharat’ room that open-sourced the Silicon Valley playbook.