Clearstone Incubates ThisNext

Clearstone Venture Partners has been quietly incubating a considerable number of consumer Internet startups recently. First we found some vague details on SPOCK, and earlier this week I bumped into ThisNext, an online shopping discovery company, that has raised $3.5 million, led by Clearstone, of course.

ThisNext CEO Gordon Gould describes the company’s idea for “Shopcasts” as a list of top-ten-style products from online influencers like chefs, and professional rock climbers. The shopper can click through to buy the item and the influencer gets paid. I checked out ThisNext’s site, which is in private beta and will launch August 21st, and played around with the discovery and recommendation features. I’m a sucker for products recommended by sites like Coolhunting and Dailycandy and ThisNext sounds like an easier more powerful way to access that type of data.

The interesting part is the technology behind the service that creates a set of metrics based on which recommenders have the most influence, among other things. Gordon compares some of the features to Flickr’s “Interestingness”.

Clearstone VC Sumant Mandal says price comparison shopping on the Internet is relatively good now, while discovery of items is still relatively poor. ThisNext will tap the “the empowerment of the micro-influencer,” Sumant says. AOL exec Jason Calacanis must think it’s pretty cool too –he’s on the board.