That time I went on screen with Jessica Alba and Gwyneth Paltrow…
Why Lightspeed collaborated with Apple to find the next big consumer app.
“Planet of the Apps” debuts this week on Apple Music.
Today, consumer technology has become popular culture. A good idea can come from anywhere and a visionary founder can be anyone.
This is a dramatic change from days gone by, where Silicon Valley stood for entrepreneurship. But Silicon Valley does not lead popular culture. In fact, just the opposite. It can feel like an insular bubble, far removed from middle America. Here in the Valley, based on your personal experience, you could reasonably believe that the best selling car in America is the Tesla Model S, and not the Ford F 150 Pickup truck that it really is.
As a result, we find ourselves meeting entrepreneurs from all over the US and all over the world. Not just New York and LA, but I’ve gone to visit entrepreneurs from Chattanooga, TN, to Fayetteville, AK, from York in the UK to Belgrade in Serbia. But maybe the greatest lengths I’ve ever gone to — far outside of my comfort zone — required going in front of the camera to meet the next generation of entrepreneurs on Planet of the Apps (planetoftheapps.com), a new show from Apple that debuts this week on Apple Music.
As venture capitalists, we are editors, not writers. We can’t see into the future, but we must recognize the future when we see it. We recognize the vision that it takes from any entrepreneur to imagine a world different than today and then start to make that world a reality. That’s true for all of the entrepreneurs we meet, including the app developers who pitched me and my colleagues on the consumer investing team at Lightspeed on Planet of the Apps.
The Lightspeed team approached these pitches just as we do the pitches we’ve seen over the past two decades. We looked for apps that can become part of popular culture. We looked for apps that can build new habits. And we looked for apps that reflect a unique insight into human behavior. We looked for our next Snap, our next Honest Company, our next GIPHY, our next Nest.
Once upon a time you needed deep pockets, deep programming expertise, and deep connections to start a company. Today we have seen a democratization of entrepreneurship. We were impressed by the grit of all the entrepreneurs we met on the show. We were also impressed by their diversity. Speaking personally as an immigrant myself, I liked seeing entrepreneurs that were immigrants and native born, entrepreneurs who were men and women, white and black, Asian and Hispanic. Unique insight can truly come from anyone.
Planet of the Apps elevates the developer and their story into a broader cultural context in a way that only Apple can. Some have compared the show to “Shark Tank for Apps”. But whereas Shark Tank is about the sharks, Planet of the Apps is about the Apps. They are the heroes of this story.
We’re looking forward to spotlighting the hard-working and passionate entrepreneurs who you’ll meet every Tuesday when a new episode airs. To watch the first episode, visit Apple Music, iTunes, or planetoftheapps.com.
On the first episode we funded two college students from Michigan, Lexie Ernst and Jake Wayne of Companion (https://companionapp.io/). You can read a Q&A with Lexie and Jake here: How 1.5M People Get Home Safely — Our Investment in Companion.
We look forward to hearing your thoughts on the show — we hope you’ll enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it. It’s our hope that Planet of the Apps inspires a new generation of app developers.
-Jeremy & Team Lightspeed
For more info on “Planet of the Apps” visit Apple Music, iTunes, or www.planetoftheapps.com.