What it’s Really Like to Star (and Succeed) on Apple Music’s New Show Planet of the Apps

By Lauren Farleigh, founder & CEO of Dote

When I left my (paying) job to work full time on my side project, Dote, I made a deal with myself. If I was going to do this, I had to give it everything I had. Early mornings, late nights, weekends, holidays. Even when I didn’t feel like it, even when I was way outside of my comfort zone. I was all in. 

When the opportunity to pitch Dote on Apple Music’s new series, Planet of the Apps, came across my inbox, I knew it was the kind of thing I had to embrace. So far my Year of Yes hadn’t led me astray.  

Waiting for the flight from SFO to LA, where I’d give my first pitch to Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow, Gary Vaynerchuk and will.i.am, the advisors for Planet of the Apps, I spotted a hodgepodge group of men and women, scrolling through their iPhones, speaking to each other in hushed voices, some bespectacled, some vitamin D deficient, all a little under slept. I recognized my fellow ilk immediately. I watched them from afar until we got to our hotel in the heart of Hollywood. “Are you here for that, uh, Apple thing?” I asked. The NDAs regarding our participation in the show left little wiggle room to chat freely. “Yes we are!” they exclaimed. Fast friends.

Some stuttered and stumbled and blanked, but we all finished our pitches. Halfway through, Gwyneth’s kids showed up on-set wanting to try the escalator. It looked like a lot of fun to ride if you didn’t have to give a perfectly timed startup pitch at the same time.  Happily, I made it through the first round with Gwyneth Paltrow as my advisor.

What I hope the show captures but was clear to all of us on set, is how dedicated the advisors were to the process and to us as founders. Will.i.am was genuinely heartbroken when someone wasn’t chosen for the accelerator. He and Gary V. spoke with a group of us for hours after filming about their experiences fundraising and building companies.

 After wrapping up, the developers who pitched that day went out for drinks. We didn’t really know what to think of it all. There were companies that were only ideas, companies that had already raised tens of millions of dollars of funding, and everything in between. Despite our differences, the camaraderie was immediate. Almost all of us had left a path more stable and secure to pursue our pipedream. We were from all over, from all professional backgrounds and from all walks of life, but what we had in common was a belief that we owed it to ourselves to see if we could make it striking out on our own.  

 With the pitch done, we were back on our own, with 6 weeks to prepare for the VC pitch at Lightspeed Venture Partners. When I arrived home in SF, the bodysuit Jessica Alba demanded I order during my presentation was waiting at my doorstep (Jessica, let me know if you still want it!)

My first meeting with Gwyneth at the Goop office was all business. Even though I’ve met my share of successful advisors and founders in Silicon Valley, I was still pretty nervous to meet with the Goop team in LA. I met with the producer at a coffee shop a block away before walking over to see the office for the first time. It did not disappoint. Goop is the hippest-without-trying-to-be-hip headquarters I’ve ever seen — invisible from the street. Everyone who works there was well-prepared and looked impeccable. (Also—Coldplay was playing in the background!)

 Gwyneth and I walked through an old pitch deck and she quizzed me on our metrics. “You have GOT to get LTV higher (loan to value ratio),” she said. “I know,” I admitted. Then she smiled and said, “If Lightspeed doesn’t want to do this, we’ll go find someone who will.” Surreal. But the meeting put me at ease. Gwyneth believed in Dote as much as I did.

 Right before Christmas I emailed Gwyneth asking if she could reach out to influencers on Dote’s behalf to ask if they wanted to get featured in our app. “The only problem is, they’ll never believe it is you,” I said. “Can you send me a Dote hat so I can take a selfie to send with the note?” she asked. “It’s on its way,” I replied.  

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Week after week, not only was my relationship with Gwyneth and the Goop team growing, but so was my relationship with the other developers and producers.  By the time our VC pitches were scheduled, we had all seen each other’s great progress and were rooting for one another.

My call time for the VC pitch was 6 AM. It was still dark when we arrived at the co-working space where we would present to Lightspeed. I was slated for the afternoon, but then we got word that all of Gwyneth’s pitches were moved to the morning. It was go time.

 Gwyneth and I showed up in almost the same outfit, her in all green and me in all black. We’d already been getting comments about our matching blonde hair, so in a way it felt kind of fitting. We’d been absorbed in the same project together for weeks. I’d been watching order after order come in on Dote from Gwyneth’s account and I’d become a Goop addict in the meantime, so at that point we were really channeling each other’s vibes. (Can I say that about Gwyneth Paltrow?)

Our pitch went just how we’d planned it. When I received the VC offer I was over the moon, but I hesitated because I was worried about dilution. You can see my reticence on the show! What you didn’t see was Gwyneth coaching me on taking the offer. The cameras were in our face but she pulled off her mic and whispered in my ear her percentage ownership of Goop after every fundraising round. “Baby Girl, the pie just gets bigger,” she said. I knew she was right.

 I also wanted to get a hold of our board member and lead investor Michael Dearing before accepting anything, even verbally. Standing outside of the pitch room Gwyneth and I were frantically trying to call him to get his advice. He wasn’t picking up. She looked at me and said, “I think it’s just you and me Baby Girl.” It was! So I said, “Let’s do this.”  

We went back and forth into the room with Lightspeed about five times. Over lunch, I received a request from them for some additional numbers concerning our spend and revenue, cost of acquiring new customers and the like. I frantically did my analysis in the holding area. I guess they liked what they saw!

 We had some downtime before our post-pitch interview. Gwyneth told me about some of the challenges she was facing at the moment—her upcoming board meeting and some challenges they’d had procuring enough inventory to meet demand. We got personal too. I asked her if she missed acting. She said that she had achieved the pinnacle of success of acting at such an early age in winning an Oscar, and that she felt something in her that needed to see what else she could do. I recognized that feeling in myself. 

Once the interview began, I said to the camera, “If I can do this, I think anybody can.” Gwyneth started laughing in the seat next to me and said, “That is not true. It’s so nice of you to say, but that’s not true.” It was a moment that will always stand out for me.  This was the vote of confidence that made me feel like I’m the one to make Dote the enormous business I know it can be. 

And just like that, filming was over. The developers went out for drinks that night. Spirits were mixed, but I think everyone was glad the long day was done. We all took a selfie together and sent it to Gwyneth. She texted back, “I wish I were there!” We did too.

 

10 Must-Have’s From Tillys Stylist Ali Catron

We asked Ali Catron, Stylist for Tillys, for her 10 can’t-live-without items of the season. Gotta say, we seriously agree.

VANS Old Skool Platform Womens Shoes

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Buy on Dote

“An update to a classic by adding a little lift, this retro, skate-inspired sneaker is easy to pair with anything & will quickly become a personal favorite.”

 

RSQ L.A. Super High Waisted Womens Skinny Jeans

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Buy on Dote

“The higher, the better. Exclusive to Tillys these jeans are not only super flattering, but are a closet staple—I’d even go as far as calling them the pant version of the little black dress.

 

BILLABONG Hold Me Tight Wrap Dress

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Buy on Dote

“The wrap dress is such a versatile piece that works for all body types, all occasions and events. Dress is up with a pair or booties, or dress it down with a pair of sneakers. It’s simple—yet gives you a lot to work with.”

 

HIGHWAY Womens Boyfriend Denim Jacket

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Buy on Dote

 

“Taking the worn-in feel of boyfriend jeans, meet the boyfriend jean jacket! This is one of my favorite transitional pieces! During Summer it looks great over a little dress and once it cools down it gives you enough room to layer with a chunky sweater.”

 

SKY AND SPARROW Washed Womens Plaid Shirt

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Buy on Dote

“Another great styling piece, I love a good flannel tied around my waist to add a pop of color or worn open with a graphic t-shirt underneath.”

 

CHLOE & KATIE Lace Back Womens Cold Shoulder Top

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Buy on Dote

“Lace up is everything right now- as is the cold shoulder- these two find the perfect match with this lace back top.”

 

DOLCE VITA Colbey Leather Womens Boots

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Buy on Dote

“The Chelsea boot has always been a favorite of mine. This bootie can be worn year round and is super comfortable. To add some sass I lie to pair them with a fun sock.”

 

IVY & MAIN High Waisted Womens Mom Jeans

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Buy on Dote

“These are definitely not your mother’s jeans, not by a long shot. These are however, going to be your denim MVP.  Worn with a graphic t-shirt tucked in or a crop sweater these have the vintage look with all the right feels.”

 

 

O’NEILL Hilary Womens Sweater

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Buy on Dote

“Sweater season is right around the corner and this O’neill sweater is a great way to ease into it. Its chunky design will keep you cozy on a cool night.”

 

 

T-SHIRT & JEANS Karlee Mini Backpack

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Buy on Dote

“This adjustable backpack has been by every day carry. The straps allow the backpack to be worn as both a purse and a backpack letting you to get creative as well as allowing you to have your hands free to take the perfect selfie!”

—Ali Catron, Web Stylist for Tillys

 

Ali Catron

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Born and raised in Southern California just outside Los Angeles, fashion has always been a passion of Ali’s. Inspired by street style, music, and other creatives—she enjoys surrounding herself with people and things that deliver non-stop inspiration for living a more stylish and creative life.

Entrepreneur.com Article & Interview with Lauren Farleigh on The Hum!

“Use fear to your advantage,” “I eat brutal for lunch,” and other words to the wise from Dote CEO & Founder Lauren Farleigh on Entrepreneur.com today and The Hum:

I Was a Contestant on ‘Planet of the Apps’ and Got a $5 Million Investment. Here Are 5 Things I Learned From the Experience.

 

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“Where you start doesn’t matter.” – an interview with Lauren Farleigh, CEO & Founder of Dote

 

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Hi Dote Shoppers—

Because we’re both doing our summer internship with Dote remotely (Tasha from LA and Gretchen from New York), this past weekend we flew into San Francisco for a special week at Dote HQ!

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Lindsay (Partnerships Intern!), Gretchen & Tasha

We visited Lightspeed Venture Partners, the VC firm that invested $5 million in Dote on Planet of the Apps. We met with Nikki Quinn and learned all about what investors look at when evaluating an early stage product and team.

We also hung out with Josh Constine, Editor-at-Large of Techcrunch and learned all about what it’s like to have front row access to the latest developments in Silicon Valley. We heard about he created his own masters in cyber-sociology and were inspired to think about integrating our own abilities in YouTube content creation into our coursework when we go back to school in the Fall. 

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Josh & Gretchen & Tasha

We love you! Stay just the way you are.

XO.

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Hi Dote Shoppers!

The Hum wrote about Dote! Check out the full article or read some of our favorite parts below:

…There are other apps that do this but what sets Dote apart is their proprietary tech that allows for the user to checkout within the app. The other apps on the market kick you out to the store’s own website to complete your transactions. The result is an extremely simple and enjoyable experience for the user and a conversion rate better than 10X that of their competitors…

…Dote is also pursuing a purpose larger than themselves. Over 50% of their tech team is comprised of women and they are using their new found popularity to help inspire more women to enter the tech industry, including taking over the Women in Tech Snapchat this past week…

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…You should probably go download Dote right now. First, because it will improve your life and second, to leave some feedback campaigning for Taco to be shared with the world. #tacotakeover

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Thanks for the great write up! 🙂

(Taco, for those of you who don’t know, is Dote’s founder Lauren’s dog and the world’s cutest wearer of small hats.)

XO.

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Guys. We’re in Vogue!

Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Alba share their excitement about Dote in an article about Apple’s new show Planet of the Apps featuring Dote. (SPOILER ALERT: WE WIN.) It’s got us feeling pretty fancy. 

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So far, the biggest financial triumph has been for one of Paltrow’s mentees, Lauren Farleigh, who founded Dote, an app that makes mobile online shopping easier than ever. “It’s like a modern mall,” says Alba of Dote, which features items from popular chain stores, including Urban Outfitters, Sephora, and Zara. “But it’s all on one checkout,” adds Paltrow, as if she’s still trying to sell me this idea. “You don’t have to go to this store’s app and this other store’s app. It’s all very seamless.” After Farleigh presented the idea to a group of VCs at Lightspeed Venture Partners, she managed to land a $5 million investment for Dote; one of the largest ever doled out on a TV series.

I know I know. We can’t believe it either. You can read the whole article here.

XO.

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Dote Shoppers! It’s Gretchen and Tasha.

We’re in New York! Surviving the heat and Time Square. Yesterday we visited our newest brand partner. Welcome to Dote, Winky Lux!

We hung out with Natalie Mackey (@missnattymack), CEO at Winky Lux, and chatted about the latest in cosmetics. Winky Lux makes luxury color makeup with fun, bright designs. They’re the creators of the patent pending “lip pill” & the Flower Balm (there’s a flower inside the balm) inspired as they would say, “by MAGIC!”

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Now you can shop Winky Lux on Dote. (With a surprise gift with every order!) Let us know what other brands you’d like to see us add this summer.

Love you. Stay just the way you are.

XO.

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Tasha and Gretchen here!

Last week! What. a. whirlwind. Our Planet of the Apps episode aired and our CEO and Founder Lauren Farleigh spent the week in New York on a press tour with Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba, Will.i.am, and Gary V. Yes, somehow this is real life!

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Lauren Farleigh, CEO & Founder of Dote, with everyone from the TODAY Show

 

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Gwyneth Paltrow, Dote advisor & Greatest Of All Time

 

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Will.i.am, entrepreneur & fashion inspo

 

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Sad that Lauren didn’t choose him as an advisor. Still love you Gary V.

Lauren texted us these photos from behind the scenes at the TODAY Show, The View, Ryan Seacrest and a press junket at the Crosby Hotel in Soho. Yes! Seriously, still real life.

Lauren on E at the Planet of the Apps Premiere Party in LA

Refinery29 wrote an article about Lauren and her experience on Planet of the Apps called What It’s Like To Have Gwyneth Paltrow as Your Mentor.

Plus she had an interview with Cheddar at the New York Stock Exchange alongside Dote investor, Lightspeed’s Jeremy Liew. (Oh yeah, Lightspeed wrote a piece too!)

Whew! Big stuff still to come. Until then, as always, we love you. Stay just the way you are.

XO.

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Hi Dote Shoppers! It’s Gretchen and Tasha again.  

We’re buzzing through the work day because tonight is our much anticipated Planet of the Apps episode featuring Dote and our CEO and founder Lauren Farleigh! Ahhhhh. You can watch the trailer here. (That’s Lauren coming down the escalator!)

Lauren and Gretchen are going to be watching it from the W Hotel in New York tonight when the episode premieres at 9 PM EST. The rest of the Dote team is having a watching party from the office in San Francisco at 6 PST. Tasha is on her own 😉 but we’ll all be recording live so we can experience this with you! Look out for Instagram live notifications from doteshopping, lfarleigh, gretchenlovesbeauty and tasha.farsaci. Let us what you think on Twitter too @Doteshopping!

We love you! Stay just the way you are.

XO.

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