One of the holy grails in Silicon Valley is finding or founding an app that breaks through the techie bubble and goes mainstream.
Jeremy Liew, a partner at Lightspeed Ventures, says he has a good system for finding those apps.
He should know – he was Snapchat’s first investor.
In short: He looks for the apps that are trending among young women.
“What young women are doing today, I think, we are all going to end up doing in a few years’ time,” Liew told Business Insider.
Apps are moving away from being toys for the early adopter, and are starting to be more geared toward “middle America, from the beginning,” Liew said. So he looks for founders who understand popular culture and can drive the conversation.
“Frankly, I think a lot of that is driven by the test of young women,” he said. “Those are some of the areas that we will be paying particular focus on, and I expect that we will see a lot of apps that are targeted at young women in the process.”
Liew actually heard of Snapchat using a similar process. The first time he encountered the disappearing-messages app, in 2012, he had seen it on one of his partners’ teenage daughter’s phone, Business Insider’s Alyson Shontell reported.
When Lightspeed partner Barry Eggers’ daughter told him that high school kids were using only three apps and Snapchat was one of them, Liew said he had to find the creators of the app.
The rest is history. Lightspeed contributed $485,000 in seed funding to Snapchat, and Liew is still asking young people what the next big consumer app will be. He’ll participate in the Apple-funded reality show, “Planet of the Apps,” which will be a “Shark Tank”-like contest for finding breakout apps.
“Consumer technology has really become part of popular culture,” Liew said. “So what we’ve seen in our own portfolio is that the center of gravity for the consumer startup culture has really moved away from Silicon Valley and it’s become much, much broader.”