London-based Lapse, an invite-only social disposable camera app that lets friends in group chats take photos together, all of which are a mystery until they “develop” the next day, has announced that it raised $11M (approx €9.75M) in its Seed round of funding.
The round was led by Octopus Ventures and GV (formerly Google Ventures). In addition, Speedinvest and a number of high-profile angel investors including Soleio Cuervo, the designer who invented Facebook’s ‘Like’ button, also participated in this round.
The funding comes just four months after Lapse closed a $1.4M pre-Seed round led by Speedinvest, with involvement from angels including Matt Robinson, founder of Nested and GoCardless, Ian Hogarth, founder of SongKick, and Claire Nooriala, VP EMEA, Snap Inc.
“The invite-only disposable camera”
Lapse was co-founded by brothers Ben Silvertown and Dan Silvertown in 2019. The app is currently invitation-only as the founders prioritise product development, user experience, and controlled growth.
Inspired by the experience of using a point-and-shoot film camera while backpacking in Vietnam in 2019, Ben Silvertown, alongside his brother Dan, built the app to help people live in the moment when taking and sharing photos. They hope to free photography from the “like” anxiety triggered by superficial metrics and the pressures of public networks.
The app was launched in September 2021 after filling its 10,000-user beta test in under a week. Lapse claims it already has taken a million snaps despite being live less than a month, with some users taking 200 snaps per week.
Ben says, “Lapse doesn’t let you review, edit, or curate photos in ways that other platforms encourage. The focus is on enjoying the moment, rather than trying to showcase it. People are taking and sharing photos on Lapse of things they never would have otherwise. By removing the pressure for perfection and the mental barrier when we review photos, a whole new world of more ‘real’ photos gets unlocked.”
How does it work?
Lapse users create private chat groups with friends, with each group having a “roll” of 36 shots, like a roll of photographic film. Anyone in the group can take photos on that roll, but nobody can see any of the shots until they are “developed” 24 hours after the first is taken.
The full roll then appears in the chat as an animated montage called a Lapse. Group members can react to and comment on photos, and save or export individual shots or the full Lapse.
To add to the point-and-shoot experience, all shots are processed in-app using Lapse’s proprietary image processing engine which, the company claims, has been designed and tested with more than 30 professional photographers to replicate the distinctive appearance of film.
Dan says, “The social media landscape is becoming more ‘media’ less ‘social’. Public platforms such as Instagram and TikTok are so creator- and influencer-dominated, your real friends are drowned out. Our vision with Lapse is to own the other end of the spectrum, where sharing is more relaxed, intimate, and intentional – genuinely social, not just for likes. Lapses are rich records of spontaneous and authentic moments, to be shared privately between friends rather than broadcast to distant and anonymous followers.”