Lapse, an app that lets you take and “grow” rolls of film with groups of friends, raises $ 11 million from GV and others – TechCrunch

The relentless march of algorithmic advertising hooks from social media apps, social graphics leveraged by influencers, and user experience that demands endless scrolling have led to viral success and mass market engagement for the greats. actors. But there is still a persistent gap in the market for products that allow us to create things like photos and share them with select friends, without all that other social baggage. Today, one of them announces an important round table after having noticed a strong early interest during its launch.

Lapse, an app that allows users to form groups and then allows those groups to collaborate from anywhere to take spontaneous photos on collective “rolls” of 36 photos which are then “expanded” – and only shown to the group – 24 hours after the roll began, with a bit of chatter in between, raised $ 11 million in a fundraising round.

Octopus Ventures and GV (formerly Google Ventures) led the tour of the London-based start-up of the same name, with the participation of Speedinvest and individual investors, including Soleio Cuervo, one of the first Facebook designers who has proven himself in in terms of social commitment. : he was part of the team that designed the Facebook “Like” button.

This brings the total raised by Lapse to $ 12.4 million – adding a pre-seed of $ 1.4 million that preceded the company’s launch in September, led by Speedinvest, with Claire Nooriala (VP EMEA, Snap Inc.), Matt Robinson (founder of Nested and GoCardless), and Ian Hogarth (founder of SongKick) also participate.

That September launch saw Lapse attract 10,000 users for its beta test, briefly rise to the top of Apple’s download rankings, and rack up a waitlist of 150,000 – a pull that is part of the reason why this was only It’s a matter of months for the startup to quickly pull together a healthy round of funding from a strong list of investors.

Image credits: Ingrid

Lapse falls into the category of apps that grab the attention of users and investors for precisely trying to subvert some of the mechanisms we’ve come to associate with social media.

As Instagram, TikTok and others continue to rack up millions of users, and those millions of users are truly regular users, there are a number of people (and relatives of people …) who are wary of them and their agendas. They have been found to contain a lot of toxic content, and because it’s ultimately difficult to control how they are used (and abused), some believe the solution is to give them up.

On a less severe note, even those who have found great fun, or even business, in mass market social media applications tire of their relentless pressure for engagement and exposure and therefore want to explore new possibilities. more private or impactful ways of being “social”. . “

Others in the category include IRL, which was launched, the founder said, on the premise that people use it to create more meaningful social interactions rather than focusing on sharing media with each other or on a endless scrolling to see media posted by people they don’t know.

Created to focus on “real life” physical events, the app has steered clear of the graveyard of use by expanding, ironically, to virtual events (i.e. not IRL) as it goes. and as the pandemic started and continued. Lifting a big round earlier this year to a valuation of over $ 1 billion, IRL acquired earlier this month a “digital nutrition” app, which it says would help it to develop more ethical recommendations.

And closer in concept to Lapse is Dispo, which also nods to the disposable camera roll and wants to move away from the focus on experiencing things just to share photos of these. experiences. It allows people to see only the photos they took the day after they were taken.

The startup also raised funds earlier this year, even as the same forces that propelled it to viral interest (it was co-founded by popular YouTuber David Dobrik) turned sour (one of the Dobrik’s team members were charged with sexual assault) and left many with a bad taste in their mouths (the early investors withdrew and forfeited their profits, and Dobrik was also removed from association with him). However, the app doesn’t exactly avoid buzzing social media trends: in September, it launched a test to gauge user interest in selling their photos as NFTs.

Lapse was founded by brothers Dan and Ben Silvertown, who traveled together in Vietnam and used a compact camera to disconnect and relax. They found the experience inspiring enough to decide to see if they could create an app that would recreate this idea of ​​a less anxious social pose, while also creating something that would allow users to take photos and share them with groups of people. ‘friends.

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

(Now defunct Path – co-founded by first Facebook employee David Morin to provide a way to share between small groups as a counterbalance to the wide-angle view taken by his former employer – has turned out to be very prescient, if anything. being too far ahead of its time.)

Lapse is still very much in the start-up phase and there is plenty of room for it to be developed further. The only lens that currently exists on the app, for example, is the one that takes static photos, from the back of the camera. But the founders say a lot of thought has gone into this goal.

Image credits: Ingrid

“We worked with 30 professional photographers to develop our own image processing agent,” Ben said in an interview. “But we’re still only at the first step of where we want to go with analog film in what we see as a 20-step process.”

I would better describe the filter as having some of the qualities of what a shot might have taken on an old fashioned compact camera. It sounds quaint and is an interesting way to deliberately limit what has turned out to be a very powerful camera experience on the average smartphone, and replace it with spontaneity, but also plenty of “bloopers”.

It’s kind of like the equivalent of a camera when people proactively choose to walk instead of taking a vehicle somewhere, or intentionally go through the many steps of a complicated meal instead of just the buy somewhere: you might be making your life harder, but maybe for a different kind of end.

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

They included taking very blurry photos because the camera doesn’t seem to allow you to focus, and you can’t take anything other than a very imprecise selfie (or maybe one in a mirror like I did. I finally did) because there is no front lens, and there is no video, nor “filters” to play with the image. The ability to take photos is surprisingly easy: you often take photos before you know it, and there are no rehearsals.

And my son Abel found a way to take a three-frame photo that I never figured out how to take on my own.

These images, when developed, get sent to group chat, where you see them in a super-fast slideshow unless you put the effort to slow things down to see them a little more carefully. And, the app isn’t 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 help spread awareness of the app, mimicking how, say, TikTok grew by making it easier to share videos of this app on other platforms and attracting people that way. . As it’s still in its early stages, he said that they have yet to decide whether they will keep this hook or eventually deactivate it.

The same is true of specific monetization issues that are always pushed back aside from wanting to stay away from advertising.

“We’ve had some high-level thoughts on monetization, but that question will come later,” Dan said. “The strong assumption is that we won’t be using an ad-based model because it entices as many users as possible and maximizes screen time, which is one of the reasons you get a toxic behavior. We want the emphasis to be on quality over quantity. One idea, he hinted, was a freemium model, “to create an app for users to such a level that they like it so much that they will pay for additional features.” One feature will likely be the removal of the mark on shared images: currently these come with a Lapse mark frame.

More importantly, Lapse seems to embrace the idea of ​​growing up slowly and trying to do it without the hype.

The app doesn’t make active user numbers public, but I will say that the 150,000 waitlist is not the full size of the app today, and the fact that investors like GV argue is a sign that the numbers are good. Those who are allowed in receive multiple invitations, and when you receive one, you skip the waiting list. User engagement has been decent: 15% of those who download it stay using the app, Ben said. Right now, the majority of users are “Gen Z” women, with a whopping 79% female users and 71% under the age of 24. About 80% of users are currently based in the United States.

All of these numbers, I guess, will change as the app matures. And in the spirit of having real choices among different approaches to social apps, I hope so.

“Lapse is a next-generation private social network, launched at a time when consumers are fundamentally rethinking their relationship with traditional players,” said Matthew Chandler, investment manager at Octopus Ventures, in a statement. “With Lapse, the consumer is no longer the product. This radical change in mindset allows users to communicate freely in private groups and provide snapshots of their lives. Product design also means that users no longer have the social pressure to present themselves in a certain way and instead are encouraged to be authentic, which has a profound impact on the way we communicate. We are extremely excited to partner with Dan and Ben as they build the modern platform for image-based memories.

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