Snapchat Launches Accelerator for Mobile-First Media Companies

Snapchat Incubator Venice - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of Snap Inc.

The Yellow program will provide its first class of creators with $150,000 in seed funding and three months of mentorship.

Snaphat's parent company is launching an accelerator program through which it hopes to help grow a new crop of potential media partners. 

Through the three-month program, dubbed Yellow, Snap will work with a small group of yet-to-be-selected creatives and entrepreneurs, providing $150,000 in seed funding, workspace in Venice, California, and mentorship opportunities. The company is looking for participants with ideas in the mobile content space, be it through narrative storytelling, interactive content or augmented reality. At the end of the program, there could be an opportunity for their work to be distributed on Snapchat. 

Snap vp content Nick Bell explains that in the years since Snapchat introduced its Discover platform to publish editorial and video content from its media partners, "one of the things that we found is that some of the more unconventional partners often have some of the most forward-thinking ideas." The goal of Yellow is to encourage up-and-coming creatives to develop some of those ideas in partnership with Snap. "What we're looking to do is open up a program where we can work closely with teams and we can be inspired and hopefully inspire them to push the boundary of mobile storytelling," he adds. 

Bell points to Vertical Networks, the mobile-first media company founded by Elisabeth Murdoch with backing from Snap, as an example of the type of media company that he hopes will develop out of Yellow. Since its launch, Vertical Networks has created the Brother channel for Discover and produced the Snapchat show Phone Swap, which is now being adapted for television. Bell and other Snap executives will spend the summer reviewing applicants for Yellow — everyone from filmmakers to editors to producers to writers to influencers and creators are being encouraged to apply — before the program officially kicks off in September. 

The launch of Yellow comes at an important moment for Snap. A little more than a year after going public, the company continues to struggle with broadening its user base beyond its core audience. Snap on May 1 reported that it had added four million new users during the first quarter of the year to reach 191 million daily active users. It was a significant decline in growth from its previous quarter and was seen as a response to the app's much-maligned redesign. (Snap has already said it will make some changes to the app's design in response to the feedback from users.) 

As Snap works through these challenges, executives have also made an effort to be more open and communicative with its users, especially the group of influencers who have risen to fame on the platform. Earlier this month, Snap held its first-ever creator summit to build a bridge with 13 of its biggest stars. Yellow is another way for Snap to forge a relationship with the creative minds using the platform in new and innovative ways. "This is largely to do with us just listening to the wider industry and hopefully inspiring people to drive forward new ideas," says Bell, adding, "It's part of the process of us getting close to the industry and learning." 

The inaugural Yellow accelerator will run for 90 days this fall. In addition to Bell and Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, other execs at the company will also meet with the participants. Further, the company plans to tap program mentors and speakers from its roster of media partners. While Snap will take an ownership stake in the companies that sign up for Yellow, participants will not be required to exclusively distribute their content on Snapchat. Applicants can apply to Yellow through July 8. The programs kicks off Sept. 10 and runs through Dec. 7.