This is what Snapchat's first investor looks for in the next big app

Jeremy liew lightspeedLightspeedJeremy Liew is a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners who found hot startups like Snapchat before everyone else.

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, partner at Lightspeed Ventures, says he has a good system for finding those apps.

He should know — he was Snapchat’s first ever investor.

In short: he looks for the apps that are trending with 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.

He cites apps like Prisma and Musical.ly as examples of apps that have found a broad audience and have broken through to the mainstream.

Apps are moving towards away from being toys for the early adopter, and are starting to be more geared toward “middle America, from the beginning,” says Liew. 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 says. “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 first heard of Snapchat using a similar process. The first time he encountered the disappearing messages app, in 2012, he had seen it on his teenage daughter’s phone, Alyson Shontell previously reported.

And when his daughter told him that there were only three apps high school kids were using, that’s when 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 will be participating 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 says. “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.”

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