Over the last two decades we’ve seen a real democratization of tech entrepreneurship. Today, everyone has a smartphone in their pocket and fast wireless internet connections.

Apple pioneered the “App Economy” that we have all benefited from. Consumer technology has become popular culture. Startups like Snapchat*, Giphy*, The Honest Company*, Grubhub*, Dollar Shave Club, Groupon, Spotify, Bitmoji and Musical.ly have all entrenched themselves into our society by targeting everyday Americans from the beginning, not just tech early adopters. And all of these companies were founded outside of Silicon Valley.

We see this in our own portfolio at Lightspeed. While we still see tremendous innovation coming from the Bay Area, we also see it coming from New York to LA to Toronto to Washington, D.C. We see pitches from companies based in Chicago to Chattanooga, from Fort Lauderdale to Fayetteville.

Today, we’re excited to announce that we’re partnering in a new way to discover and support entrepreneurs across the country. We are partnering with Planet of the Apps, a new show co-produced by Apple, and committing to invest a minimum of $10M into apps that are discovered on the show.

Planet of the Apps isn’t just a show; it’s a launch pad and accelerator for exceptional ideas. The app creators will have a chance to receive mentorship from experts in both technology and popular culture, marketing and promotion directly through the App store, and of course, the opportunity to receive venture capital investment.

Part of our excitement in this show is due to the fact that we will have the opportunity to work once again with Jessica Alba, who will serve as a mentor to the selected companies. We were the first investors in Jessica’s company, The Honest Company, and have been blessed with a front row seat in that company’s incredibly growth and evolution into a world leading baby and family products brand. The other mentors all marry major accomplishments in popular culture with expertise in building businesses — Gwyneth Paltrow, will.i.am and Gary Vaynerchuk.

As Venture Capitalists based in Silicon Valley, we see thousands of startups per year come pitch to us in our offices on Sand Hill Road. Every great startup begins with a unique insight. For Jessica, it was her realization that there was a need in the marketplace for one brand that offered safe, effective and accessible products — from this insight came The Honest Company. Through this show, we hope to see the best of thousands more startups, based all across the country. I look forward to hearing unique insights from many new entrepreneurs. Perhaps we will find our next Snapchat.

If you have a startup and are interested in being part of the show, visit www.planetoftheapps.com, and fill out the preliminary online application. You will also be asked to submit a 1-minute video introducing yourself, your app, what problem you are solving and why you want to be on the show. If the producers like your application, they will reach out directly and arrange a more in-depth FaceTime interview with you and/or your team.

I hope to see you on the set of the show, and hear about the next app to change the face of consumer technology and become a pop culture phenom.


* A Lightspeed portfolio company

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