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Summary:

New York-based Qloo is launching Thursday with $1.4 million to provide a one-stop shop for cultural discovery. The startup is backed by Kindler Capital, as well as entrepreneur and angel investor Jason Calacanis and actors Danny Masterson and Cedric the Entertainer.

chef - taste

If you’re looking for recommendations online, Netflix can customize movie picks, Pandora can personalize music and Foursquare can suggest restaurants and other places you might like. But Qloo, a New York-based startup, wants to be your one-stop shop for discovering all kinds of cultural things and places.

The company launched in private Alpha in April and on Thursday is announcing that it’s launching with $1.4 million in funding. Kindler Capital led the round, which also included actors Cedric the Entertainer and Danny Masterson. The startup’s advisory board includes entrepreneur and angel investor Jason Calacanis and men’s clothing maker Duncan Quinn.

On the site, users select one thing across eight categories (film, TV, music, fashion, nightlife, books, travel and dining) that best reflects their taste in that category. Then Qloo (pronounced “clue”) generates suggestions in each of those categories based on the selections provided by other users with similar taste. But instead of just receiving suggestions from those who share their taste in a specific category, the site lets people select the aspects of their taste that they want to inform each new search.

“It first evolved from the idea that there are relationships between taste in different areas of culture,” said Alex Elias, who co-founded the company along with Jay Alger. “So someone’s taste in music might implicate where they might enjoy having a drink or their fashion sensibilities. Or your taste in literature might implicate the films you’d want to watch or where you might want to travel.”

In a sense, its approach is similar to Hunch’s notion of the taste graph, which uses a disparate selection of a person’s preferences to guide discovery. But while Hunch now helps eBay personalize shopping online, Qloo wants to personalize cultural recommendations.

Given the trend toward personalization, Qloo provides an interesting value proposition, but I will be curious to see if people want a cross-cultural experience when they can already receive personalized suggestions on vertical-specific platforms.

Even though Facebook, Foursquare and other social platforms may offer social data that could reveal users’ cultural preferences, Elias said Qloo chose not to integrate them (beyond letting users sign-in with Facebook) because they felt it was too noisy.

“People might like things on Facebook for different reasons,” he said. “We want to know what five restaurants really represent you.”

Qloo is invite-only but people can request an invitation on its site.

  1. Personalization, discovery, social…these three terms are the future of ecommerce. Qloo is positioning itself in a particular way using the “taste graph” which alludes to the “interest graph.” The “taste graph” unlike the “interest graph” is not attempting to connect people with people based upon similar tastes, but to connect people with those actual tastes. We wish Qloo success, from one start up to another. http://insparq.com/

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