Capitalising on the smaller internet and nostalgia, photo app Lapse raises $1.4 million

Photo: Megan Jordan / meganjordan.co.uk
Photo: Megan Jordan / meganjordan.co.uk

London-based photo app Lapse has raised $1.4 million in a seed funding round. The app lets a close group of friends capture and share photos with each other with a retro-caveat; a 24-hour delay, replicating the days of old when a photo lab was involved in the process. The funding round, which closed in a speedy 4 days, perhaps fueled by Speedinvest’s lead(?) will be used to further develop the product, and presumably, be used towards the launching of the product.

Ok, let’s cut straight to the chase here, as a photographer, I had to have a bit of a laugh when this story first landed on my desk. “Let me get this straight, it’s an app where you and your friends (and no one else) are forced to … wait? Wtf is this sh*t?”

And then I got a few beta invites and brought in a few other photographer friends, those who also shared my skepticism. What we collectively discovered was that the wait was actually worth it. By removing the, “here’s where I am right now, what I’m doing, and who I’m doing it with,” each one of us, I believe, got a bit bolder, a bit braver with our compositions. The ‘lapse meant that even we the creators had to wait 24 hours to review our work, and by that point it was already distributed. So, get it right the first time, or don’t do it at all.

Now, for those of you out there too young to remember this stuff called film, that’s eff-eye-el-emm, this is exactly what it was all about. I cut my teeth on Kodachrome and often waited up to a  week to see the results. Mainly, because I was a lowly high school student who only had access to the darkroom once a week, and colour developing chemicals weren’t cheap, nor were they easy to master.

Lapse is bringing back that nostalgia for old-timers like me and giving the next generation of would-be Cartier-Bresson’s a taste of what that experience was like, albeit in their digital native format.

At the same time, founding brothers Ben and Dan Silvertown haven’t let the undeniable shift towards a smaller internet slip past their radar. Neither have investors.

Sameer Singh of Atomico’s angel programme explains, “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. 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.”

As for this history, Singh is talking about Dan’s 2020 Lockdown Haircut service, 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.

Lapse has already received over 150,000 pre-orders, a number the company is controlling via an invite-only launch.

The $1.4 million in seed funding was led by Speedinvest, and saw participation from Atomico (via its angel programme’s Sameer Singh), and notable angels investors 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).

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