Lapse launches app to capture magic of the pre-digital photo experience, backed by $1.4m seed round and over 150,000 pre-orders
- Lapse lets friends in group chats take photos together, all of which are a mystery until they “develop” the next day, recreating the magic of disposable cameras in a private, social experience
- The app received 150,000 App Store pre-orders, following high demand for its private beta
- Round closed in four days, led by Speedinvest with participation from Atomico, and angels including founders of GoCardless, Songkick, and LoveFilm
- App goes live today on the Apple App Store for iOS, and is invite only
30 September 2021, LONDON, UK:
London-based startup Lapse has today launched its social disposable camera app, supported by a $1.4m seed round. The app lets close groups recreate the magic of old-school disposable cameras by taking 36 snaps to ‘rolls’ in private group chats. 24 hours after the first shot is taken, the roll is revealed.
“In a world where you order food in a tap, hail taxis in an instant, and swipe to date, there’s something oddly exhilarating about being forced to wait. Before digital cameras you had no idea what you captured. The suspense of not knowing paired with seeing your snaps for the first time is a powerful feeling. We’ve re-created that experience and made it social,” says co-founder Ben Silvertown.
“There’s an unmet need for pressure-free, friends-only sharing” says Lapse co-founder Dan Silvertown. “Photos taken on Lapse cannot be reviewed, edited, or curated in ways that other platforms allow. The result is truly authentic moments shared privately between friends, not followers.”
Lapse was co-founded by brothers Ben and Dan Silvertown. The $1.4m funding round—closed in a remarkable four days—was led by Speedinvest, with participation from Atomico (via its angel programme’s Sameer Singh), and notable angels including Matt Robinson (Founder of Nested, GoCardless), Ian Hogarth (Founder of SongKick), Simon Franks (Founder of LoveFilm), Claire Nooriala (VP EMEA, Snap Inc.), Jamie Swango (ex-CMO of Deliveroo and GP at The Craftory), Vinay Solanki (Head of Channel 4 Ventures), Dmitry Tokarev (Founder of Copper.co), Mike Lobanov (GP at Target Global), and Maria Palma (GP at Kindred Capital).
There’s incredible demand for Lapse. The app has seen more than 150,000 pre-orders on the iOS App Store. To control the demand, Lapse is launching invite only.
“Lapse is for everybody but while we launch we’re focusing on photographers and the creative community. We’re remaining laser-focused on our power users who are taking 50-100 photos per week to their groups, rather than getting distracted by on-boarding more people for the sake of vanity metrics.” says Dan Silvertown.
The strategy seems to be paying off.
“We’ve had people sending us screenshots of profiles they’ve seen on dating apps that feature photos taken on Lapse,” says Dan. “We’ve had people telling us they’ve seen people in front of them at festivals taking photos on Lapse, or strangers coming up to them in clubs and recognising them having Lapse open.”
The concept of Lapse has naturally led to comparisons with the app founded by David Dobrik, Dispo.
“Fundamentally we’re addressing different needs,” says Dan. “Dispo is a public, many-to-many platform similar to Instagram. It’s about showing off your photography in exchange for likes and followers. Lapse is focused on creating a space for private, chat-based sharing between friends.”
The shift from public to private networks is undeniable
“Social networks started with the goal of connecting the world. But when everyone is connected, broadcasters and influencers drown out real, personal connections. This is where Lapse comes in,” says investor Sameer Singh of Atomico’s angel programme. “By restricting interactions to curated groups of friends — people you actually know — Lapse is re-introducing the social graph and authenticity to photo sharing. This isn’t an easy feat to pull off. It requires a deep understanding of product, culture, and social dynamics. And that’s exactly what Ben and Dan bring to the table. They have a history of tapping into human psychology to create truly viral projects.”
The brothers’ track record of viral products include Dan’s ‘Lockdown Haircut’ service in 2020 which connected people to barbers over Zoom for virtual haircuts to raise money for charity, and Ben’s GifGoat, which drove over 35,000 young people to register to vote in 2016. Both received mainstream media attention.
The new funding will be used to further develop the product.
“We want to become the place people capture and share meaningful moments with friends and family, and to become the custodian of all these memories,” says co-founder Ben Silvertown.
“I remember when weddings had disposable cameras at every table,” says Jeroen Arts, partner at Speedinvest. “Developing the film and seeing what shots were taken days or weeks later made the day even more special. Lapse is using technology to bring back the suspense of documenting everything from our daily lives to major milestones with the people we love. It’s no wonder there’s already such high-demand. We’re excited to develop the future of photography along with Ben, Dan and their team.”
Lapse is available to download for free today on the iOS App Store and at www.lapse.app
Photo credits for press shots: Megan Jordan (https://www.meganjordan.co.uk/)
About the founders:Ben is a designer and creative director specialised in viral mechanics.
Multi-award winning digital media & UX/UI designer who has created viral projects cumulatively generating 50M+ impressions. Former Creative at AKQA working across Nike, Activision, Amazon, Warner Music and many more. Founding team at Copper.co start-up ($75m+ funding)
Dan is a startup founder and former strategy consultant
Ranked top-of-class at BCG, ex-Hotels.com, and multiple time start-up founder. Chief Commercial Officer at London-based Series A start-up and founded bootstrapped start-up which exited in a trade sale at the beginning of 2021.
About Speedinvest: Speedinvest is a European venture capital fund with more than €400M AUM and 40 investors working from Berlin, London, Munich, Paris, Vienna and San Francisco. Employing a focused investment team structure, we fund innovative early-stage technology startups in the areas of Deep Tech, Fintech, Industrial Tech, Network Effects, Digital Health and Subscriptions. Speedinvest actively deploys its global network and in-house Platform+ operational experts to support our portfolio of nearly 200 companies, including with US market expansion. Learn more: www.speedinvest.com