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Lauren Mandt of CrimeDoor: “Never cut corners”

CrimeDoor is not about hiring button pushers, we need a passionate workforce or we will fail. Whatever position someone holds on our team can’t be just a job, it must be a lifestyle. Since our central goal in content creation is to provide the best information, every person contributing to our product must have an […]

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CrimeDoor is not about hiring button pushers, we need a passionate workforce or we will fail. Whatever position someone holds on our team can’t be just a job, it must be a lifestyle. Since our central goal in content creation is to provide the best information, every person contributing to our product must have an innate desire to deliver accuracy, full stop.

This requires an individual who cares about True Crime storytelling and the many families affected by these tragedies. If the passion isn’t there, then we can’t be confident that we are always delivering a quality product.

We never cut corners with our research and our selection of media. If we achieve these goals, we will be able to earn trust from our audience, which in time will afford us loyalty.


As part of our series about strong women leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lauren Mandt, Founder and Owner of CrimeDoor.

Lauren Mandt is a media veteran, with a background in marketing and operations in fashion, wellness, television and immersive media. Since 2015, Lauren has focused exclusively on creating AR/VR content. Notable clients include IndyCar, Fox News, Coca-Cola.

CrimeDoor is a one of a kind Augmented Reality (AR) based app that “opens the doors” to real crime scenes. When users enter these doors they are brought into virtual experiences that recreate the exact scenes detectives encountered when they originally arrived.

Lauren is a true crime fan and it was that passion that drove the creation of CrimeDoor. She wanted to create a central hub of true crime information since videos, articles, podcasts, photos and police reports are all available online but scattered all over the Internet. She herself had spent hours going down rabbit holes and wanted to make it easier for other true crime fans by creating a one-stop-shop with the most comprehensive collection of true crime knowledge.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share a story about the hard times or challenges that you faced when you first started this journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even when the path is tough?

I was incredibly shy as a kid, in fact, right up until I got married. Like so many people, I exited college with debt, coupled with no real direction, which led to insecurity. I think this is very common for young women, especially if you don’t have a passion for something.

I studied film at UNLV, but I didn’t have a movie I wanted to make or a script I wanted to write. In fact, I didn’t even want to work in the movie business, but I did want to understand storytelling. I learned from the masters as to how life could work in films, what the ups and downs may be, but it was a theory. When I got into the real world my insecurity was fueled by my growing debt, which clouded my plans and judgement even more. It never occurred to me I could do the things I am doing now; I couldn’t think big.

It all changed when I found a life partner. Suddenly I had someone who stared me down and told me all day every day that I was great, and I could do so much more in life and business. This was my husband; he helped me understand myself. It’s extremely difficult to see yourself in life and perform an honest self-audit. For this, you really need a third person and I was lucky to find someone who challenged me and encouraged me to just be honest with myself and everything else would eventually come together. I wake up every day and I ask myself am I being the best I can be, whatever that is. It’s always going to require work, but I am up for the challenge.

What do you see as the pain point that your company is helping to address?

There is a great deal of distrust with police, now more than ever. This needs to change.

Sure, there are some bad cops out there, just as there are bad bankers, real estate agents and stock brokers. The vast majority of the police are really interested in protecting people. Seriously, they put themselves into dangerous situations every day.

Do you want someone shooting at you because you’re trying to help people? I don’t.

CrimeDoor will offer new partnerships between the police and the community by democratizing crime solving. Prior to our app, law enforcement was limited to one, maybe two hours at a crime scene and then it would be wiped clean forever. There wasn’t an organic way for them to engage with the public to support a case or participate in solving the crime, beyond an initial search or posting flyers.

As time passes and leads go cold, anger can grow with the lack of results. It’s tough trying to catch a perpetrator five years after a crime if all you have are a few photos and a shoe box with a dirty sock, a broken comb and stick of lipstick. Very hard. Now, the community and the authorities can work together on their mobile devices to collectively solve a crime. This will help heal divisions, regain trust and deliver results. Both parties need to find common ground and we believe CrimeDoor can assist in creating these important partnerships.

What do you think makes your company stand out?

Authenticity is unique these days. From day one we understood our place in the True Crime community, which is to say we know what we want to deliver for our audience. There are too many places on the internet, TV and in the news that focus on sensationalizing crime on a daily basis in an effort to drive click bait. That is not for us, as they say, just the facts. We don’t worry about making money; it will come eventually if we are always authentic. We only think about being the best that we can be and listen to our audience. So many voices speak to us from the past and we must be true to them. If we can adhere to that promise, we will always be unique and grow with our community.

Too many companies enter into business with the sole focus of making money and not serving the people who give them permission to exist. We don’t have any investors. My husband and I have self-funded this project because we care about the True Crime community. Our high standards of quality will lead to authenticity and that’s what matters. It seems old fashioned, but it’s true; you can’t put a price on authenticity.

Are you working on any exciting new projects for your company now? How do you think that will directly help people?

Every day we enter into new partnerships with members of the True Crime community, families and law enforcement. Retired detective Paul Holes is one of our earliest content creators. He was an integral person in solving the Golden State Killer case and is always working with families to help them find answers. He introduced us to the family of Rebecca Zahau, who was found hanging naked outside the balcony of her home in Coronado in 2011. Her arms and legs were bound and her mouth was gagged. The official cause of death was recorded as a suicide and the family believes foul play was involved.

Paul, Rebecca’s sister, mother and brother-in-law have never stopped their effort to find answers and agreed to work with us to recreate an AR CrimeDoor that allows a person to experience this tragic scene in their own living room. This content will be released soon and the family hopes it will bring attention to her case. It will be very intense for many, nevertheless, we are proud to work with all of them to tell the story they see as important. They have supplied us with photographs, videos and documents that have never been released to the public. This will allow all of us to create a CrimeDoor that is accurate to the square inch.

Here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful tech company? Please share a story or an example for each five points.

  1. We are not about hiring button pushers, we need a passionate workforce or we will fail. Whatever position someone holds on our team can’t be just a job, it must be a lifestyle.
  2. Since our central goal in content creation is to provide the best information, every person contributing to our product must have an innate desire to deliver accuracy, full stop.
  3. This requires an individual who cares about True Crime storytelling and the many families affected by these tragedies. If the passion isn’t there, then we can’t be confident that we are always delivering a quality product.
  4. We never cut corners with our research and our selection of media.
  5. If we achieve these goals, we will be able to earn trust from our audience, which in time will afford us loyalty.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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