Snapchat is hedging its bets as its social network shrinks. Today Snap Inc. revealed the first class of its startup accelerator called Yellow that offers $150,000 in funding and creativity-centric business education in exchange for what a source says is a seven to 10 percent equity stake — in line with other accelerators like Y Combinator. The nine companies will take up a three-month residency in one of Snap’s buildings in Venice, Calif., near Los Angeles.
The accelerator class ranges from augmented reality and journalism studios to lifestyle brands around weddings and fashion to aesthetic-focused marketplaces like ConBody that pairs you with a muscular ex-convict for workouts.
Yellow calls itself “A launchpad for creative minds and entrepreneurs who are looking to build the next generation of great media companies.” Yellow could become a content provider and potential acquisition feeder for the company. ANRK and Space Oddity Films could boost Snapchat’s AR gaming effort, Hashtag Our Stories could fill Snap Map with citizen news broadcasts, Toonstar could bring animation to Discover, and SelfieCircus could power marketing pop-ups like the Snapbots that sold the company’s Spectacles.
But at the same time, it’s hard not to see Yellow as a potential escape route for Snap’s business if Instagram’s competition ends up stealing all its users. Snapchat lost three million last quarter, contributing to a massive share price downslide. Following today’s departure of COO Imran Khan, it’s trading at $9.66, just a few cents above its all-time low.
If a few of Yellow’s investments blow up and Snap makes capital available for follow-on rounds, the returns could supplement its ad revenue. But none of this first batch of startups looks poised to be gamechangers the way Snap’s acquisitions of Bitmoji and Looksery’s early AR filters were.
Yellow’s inaugural class
Here’s a look at the first nine companies in Snapchat Yellow, courtesy of write-ups provided by Snap.
ANRK (London, UK) – a new realities studio, exploring immersive storytelling through AR, VR, games and beyond.
- We are passionate about human-centered narratives, and use playful interaction and new technologies to create powerful experiences that connect the digital and physical.
ConBody (New York, NY) – a prison-style fitness bootcamp that hires formerly incarcerated individuals to teach fitness classes.
ConBody is facilitating an opportunity-filled lifestyle by empowering our community to realize success lies within. We hire formerly incarcerated individuals to build personal discipline through a unique blend of cardiovascular training and bodyweight exercises that take advantage of the resistance properties of everyday objects. We apply military techniques to space constraints intimately familiar to city-dwellers and individuals who reside in small, constrained spaces. In addition, we’re changing the views of formerly incarcerated individuals to be changed by allowing professionals to interact with formerly incarcerated individuals, which gives professionals a different perspective on them.
Hashtag Our Stories (Durban, South Africa) – an international mobile journalism (MOJO) network, publishing vertical video stories on social media. Created by citizens, curated by journalists.
Since September 2017, we’ve empowered 200 citizen storytellers in over 40 countries to produce videos with their phones. We focus on constructive, solutions-based stories and provide more diverse news coverage. Because more cameras and more perspectives means more truth.
IDK (Los Angeles, CA) – the ID for Korean music. We are a digital media company expanding in-depth on the music of Korea and K-Pop as a globally recognized genre; showcasing the identity of the artists that shape the culture. We provide insightful and rich coverage and content for the global Korean Pop audience.
We are creating a Global Brand and Destination for an English-Speaking Korean Pop Audience. Our mission is to create rich and stylized content about the Korean Music Genre; less gossip, more news and features. We want to provide a legitimate outlet for Korean Pop Culture; to create emotive, aspirational stories that are visually chic to a young, hyper-aware and digitally engaged audience.
As the company begins we will focus on publishing the best in engaging social video content. We will translate this content across platforms, ultimately building brands, shows and stories that feed the insatiable audience appetite for Korean Pop. From there we will build toward live events, merchandise and much more.
Love Stories TV (New York, NY) – a video platform for wedding planning and inspiration, bringing engaged couples and event professionals together in a uniquely visual community. Think of us like “Houzz” for weddings: We connect brides and grooms with the ideas, inspiration, products and services they need for their weddings. [Note: Snap tells me Love Stories TV did not give up a seven to ten percent equity stake as it had previously raised a $1.7 million seed round, but wouldn’t disclose more details about its equity stakes in the other startups.]
On lovestoriestv.com filmmakers and newlyweds from all over the world share their professionally produced videos along with the data and details about the wedding. Brides and grooms watch the videos to find ideas, inspiration, products and services for their wedding. We also have an active community of pre-engaged-brides under the age of 24 who watch the videos on our site, social and Amazon Prime channel for entertainment. We partner with brands and wedding pros to help them reach brides and grooms on our site and channels via the real wedding films that feature them and original content.
Premme (Los Angeles, CA) – a fashion-first, body-positive lifestyle brand for the plus-size It-Girl.
Today, 67 percent of women in America wear plus-sizes — yet plus-size fashion only accounts for 17 percent of the women’s apparel market. When it comes to media representation, plus-sizes are similarly lacking in positive, aspirational visibility. Premme empowers women who have been historically marginalized through fashion-forward, statement-making clothing and visionary, contemporary editorial content and imagery. By creating a relatable, yet aspirational brand that centers on plus-size women, we aim to flip the script on what it means to look and be stylish, while leading the conversation and movement toward truly diverse and inclusive fashion.
SelfieCircus (Los Angeles, CA) – a new kind of circus.
SelfieCircus creates pop-up experiences designed to be documented and shared on social media. The company is building a platform to connect artists, brands and consumers. The first SelfieCircus will open in Los Angeles in late 2018.
Space Oddity Films (Los Angeles, CA) – a content studio exploring tech and culture that creates innovative content for every platform: mobile, digital, AR/VR, video games, feature film and television.
We tell stories about the convergence of humanity and technology. Our original viral tech horror thriller shorts are the foundation of our brand. Our goal is to make the future now.
Toonstar (Los Angeles, CA) – a digital animation network that creates and distributes daily pop culture cartoons for an “always on” world. Powered by proprietary animation tech, we produce daily, snackable, interactive animated content at unprecedented speed and cost.
We have a large and highly engaged audience of teens and young adults generating millions of views per week because our content is sticky, shareable, relatable and engineered specifically for social. We’re a team of studio alumni and media tech innovators who have produced hit digital animated series, built groundbreaking interactive media technologies and launched mega entertainment franchises. Now we’re on a mission to build a next-gen animation network that delivers greater reach + engagement at a fraction of the operating cost.