YouTuber David Dobrik’s app Dispo mimics the experience of using a classic disposable camera and is generating considerable buzz recently despite being over a year old. Thanks to the success of an international test, Dispo reportedly acquired $20 million in Series A funding at a $200 million valuation.
According to a report on Axios, Dobrik and Dispo have secured the Series A funding via Spark Captital. Both Dispo and Spark declined to comment. This infusion came after Dispo maxed out its 10,000 user TestFlight capacity for its Japanese rollout in one weekend, which apparently created enough buzz to grab investor attention.
After the embrace of our Japanese community overnight, the TestFlight is now full. Arigato 有り難う We apologize to those with invites…hang tight. Updates soon 👀
— Dispo (@DispoHQ) February 14, 2021
For a bit of perspective, Flickr was purchased by Yahoo in 2005 for somewhere between $22 and $25 million; that equates to about a $33 million max valuation after adjusting for inflation.
Dispo’s value proposition is that it takes the nostalgia of a disposable film camera and packs it into an app. The interface mimics the look of the back of an old disposable and even forces users to only see a tiny preview of the coming photo through a digital recreation of a disposable’s diopter. The only option in the app is to turn the flash on and off.
There are no editing features, and photos taken in the app are not immediately reviewable. Instead, photos have a “development” period and are only available the next day at 9 AM local time. Images can be placed in a filing system called “film rolls” and can be shared among friends as well as posted publicly in the latest beta version of the app. The original app did not have social functionality.
The latest version of Dispo appears to promise social features, but poor reviews state that an invite is required to fully use it.
Dobrik currently operates an Instagram account that exclusively posts pictures taken with the Dispo app.
Dobrik originally came up with the idea for Dispo after seeing how much fun his friends were having using disposable cameras at a party (pre-pandemic). Wanting to mimic that experience with a smartphone, he developed the concept and published the original iteration of the app in 2019. Last fall, Dobrik raised $4 million in seed funding from Reddit Co-Founder Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six fund.
If this report is true, Dobrik’s leveraging of his YouTube success combined with the nostalgia of film packed into a digital experience looks to be a home run. If nothing else, his Japanese fanbase is extremely excited to try it out for themselves.