Business

Lapse, an app that lets you record and “develop” film roles with groups of friends, raises $ 11 million from GV and others

The relentless advance of algorithmic ad hooks from social media apps, influencer-used social graphs, and UX begging for endless scrolling have resulted in viral success and mass market engagement for the biggest players. But there remains a persistent niche in the market for products with which we can create things like photos and share them with selected friends without all that other social baggage. Today one of them announces a sizeable round of seeds after seeing strong early interest when it was launched.

procedure, an app that allows users to form groups and then those groups work together wherever they are to take impromptu pictures on collective “rolls” of 36 photos that are then “developed” – and the group only – 24 hours to be shown later roll has started, with a bit of chat in between, has raised $ 11 million in a seed funding round.

Octopus Ventures and GV (formerly known as Google Ventures) led the way for the London-based startup of the same name, which featured Speedinvest and individual investors, including Soleio Cuervo, an early Facebook designer with a track record of social engagement: he was part of the team that designed the Facebook “Like” button.

This brings the total amount raised by Lapse to $ 12.4 million – plus a pre-seed of $ 1.4 million that was created prior to the company’s launch in September under the direction of Speedinvest with Claire Nooriala (VP EMEA, Snap Inc.), Matt Robinson (founder of Nested and GoCardless) and Ian Hogarth (founder of SongKick) also attended.

When it launched in September, Lapse was able to attract 10,000 users to its beta test, briefly top the Apple download charts, and post a waiting list of 150,000 – traction that partly explains why it was only a matter of months before that Startup quickly pulled together a healthy seed pool from a strong list of investors.

Credit: Ingrid

Lapse falls into the category of apps that are attracting the attention of users and investors for precisely trying to turn some of the mechanisms we associate with social media on their head.

While Instagram, TikTok and others continue to amass millions of users, and those millions of users are really normal users, there are definitely a number of people (and parents of people …) who are suspicious of them and their plans. They have been found to contain a lot of toxic content and because ultimately it is difficult to control how it is used (and abused), some believe the solution is to give it up.

Slightly less serious: Even those who have found a lot of fun or even business with mass market social media apps are getting tired of their relentless urge for engagement and awareness and therefore want to explore more private or effective ways of being “social”. “

Others in the category are IRL, which was started by the founder said, on the premise that people are using it to create more meaningful social interactions instead of focusing on sharing media with one another or endlessly scrolling to see media posted by people they don’t know.

The app was designed to focus on physical events in “real life” and stayed away from the cemetery of use by ironically relying on virtual (i.e. elevation of big round Earlier this year at a valuation of more than $ 1 billion, IRL made an acquisition earlier this month a “digital nutrition” app that would help her develop ethical recommendations.

And conceptually closer to Lapse is Dispo, which also alludes to the disposable camera roll and wants to move away from the focus on experiencing things just to share photos of these experiences. It just lets people see what pictures they took the day after they were taken.

The startup also raised money at the beginning of the yeareven when the same forces that drove it viral interest (it was co-founded by popular YouTuber David Dobrik) went mad (was one of Dobrik’s roster charged with sexual assault) and left many a bad taste in the mouth (Early investors withdrew and foregoing profits, and Dobrik has also been removed with any association with it). However, the app doesn’t exactly avoid lively social media trends: in September It launched a test to measure users’ interest in selling their photos as NFTs.

Lapse was founded by brothers Dan and Ben Silvertown, who traveled to Vietnam together and used a point-and-shoot camera to relax and unwind. They found the experience so inspiring that they decided to create an app that recreated that idea of ​​less anxious social posing while also developing something that users could use to take pictures and share them with groups of friends.

While Lapse relies on the same mechanics as Dispo by focusing on delayed viewing of photos, it takes a different approach in that it never intends to share those images with anyone other than a close social circle.

(The now-defunct Path – co-founded by early Facebook employee David Morin to provide a way to share in small groups as a counterbalance to the wide-angle view of his former employer – turned out to be very prescient, if perhaps ahead of its time .)

Lapse is still very early stage and there is a lot of room for further development. For example, the only lens currently on the app is one that takes static photos from the back of the camera. But the founders say a lot has been thought about this one lens.

Credit: Ingrid

“We worked with 30 professional photographers to develop our own image processing agent,” said Ben in an interview. “But we are still only at step one, where we want to go with analog film in what we believe to be a 20-step process.”

I would best describe the filter as having some of the qualities that an old-school point-and-shoot camera snapshot could have had. Sounds strange and is an interesting possibility to deliberately limit the now very strong camera experience on an average smartphone and to replace it with spontaneity, but also quite a few “slip-ups”.

It’s a bit like the camera equivalent, with people proactively walking instead of taking a car, or purposely going through the many steps for a complicated meal instead of just buying it somewhere: you may make your life more uncomfortable, but maybe for another ending.

In my experience, some of the byproducts of using the lapse filter were unexpected and difficult to manage, but not in a terminal way, but in a fun way.

This included very blurry images as the camera doesn’t seem to let you focus and you can’t get anything other than a very inaccurate selfie (or maybe one in a mirror like I ended up doing) as there is no front-facing lens, and there is no video or any “filters” to play with the image. The way to snap is surprisingly simple: you often snap pictures before you even know it and there is no repetition.

And my son Abel somehow found a way to take a three-picture photo that I never figured out myself.

These images, when developed, will be sent to the group chat where you will see them in a super fast-paced slideshow unless you go out of the way to slow things down so you can see them in a little more detail. And the app can’t do without its more conventional social media hooks: you can also save images from the roll and share them elsewhere.

Dan tells me that this was originally created to increase awareness of the app by, for example, mimicking how TikTok has grown by making it very easy to share videos from this app on other platforms and to engage people that way . Since it’s still in its infancy, he said they haven’t decided yet whether to keep this hook or to turn it off at some point.

Concrete questions of monetization are still being postponed, apart from the desire to stay away from advertising.

“We had some high-level thoughts about monetization, but that question comes later,” said Dan. “The strong hypothesis is that we won’t be using an ad-based model because it motivates as many users as possible and optimizes screen time – which is one of the reasons for toxic behavior. We want the focus to be on quality rather than quantity. ”One idea, he suggested, was a freemium model of“ developing an app for users who love it so much that they pay for additional features. ”Becomes a feature likely to be branding removal on split images: currently these come with a lapse branded frame.

Most of all, though, Lapse seems to have the idea of ​​growing slowly and trying to do so without the hype.

The app doesn’t publish active user numbers, but I would like to say that the 150,000 waiting list today is not the full size of the app and that investors like GV are backing you is a sign that the numbers are good. Those who are admitted will receive multiple invitations and if you get one you will skip the waiting list. The user engagement has been decent: 15% who download it continue to use the app, Ben said. Currently, most of the users are “Gen Z” women, with a whopping 79% of users being women and 71% under the age of 24. About 80% of users are currently based in the United States.

I suspect that all of these numbers will change as the app matures. And in terms of actually choosing between different approaches to social apps, I hope it does.

“Lapse is a next-generation private social network that was launched at a time when consumers are profoundly rethinking their relationship with traditional actors,” said Matthew Chandler, investment manager at Octopus Ventures, in a statement. “With Lapse, the consumer is no longer the product. This dramatic change in mentality enables users to communicate freely in private groups and provide up-to-date images of their lives. Product design also means that users are no longer exposed to social pressures to portray themselves in a certain way, but instead are encouraged to be authentic, which greatly affects the way we communicate. We are incredibly excited to be working with Dan and Ben as they build the modern platform for image-based memories. “

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