Minnesota-based startup Inveni announced today that it has closed a $483,333 seed funding round led by a group of Silicon Valley investors, who asked to have their identities remain confidential. Be that as it may, the latest round of funding brings Inveni’s total to $1.7 million.
Inveni is a free web service that serves up movie and TV recommendations based on a user’s unique tastes. How does it work? Think of it as technology akin to that which drives Netflix’s personalization and recommendation features. Inveni’s software assists you in creating a customized “Taste Profile” by enabling you to share the preferences you’ve already established on sites like Amazon or Hulu. Speaking of Amazon, Inveni founder Aaron Weber told me that the startup is being advised by former NetPerceptions executives, the makers of the collaborative filtering software that drives Amazon’s recommendation engine.
Though Inveni’s technology draws obvious parallels with Netflix and Amazon, Weber said that the two services essentially rely on an algorithm to aggregate taste preferences and serve recommendations, and Inveni differs from this — sort of. The service has used a bot to crawl other sites on the web that offer user-generated content recommendations (i.e. sites that let users recommend movies and TV shows to each other) and it’s incorporated this data into its own database. Which doesn’t really sound Kosher, but we’ll let it slide. Just this once. And unlike the fully automated algorithms, Inveni users can publish the TV shows and movies they’ve watched, which leads the site to ask their friends and other Inveni members what they should check out next.
Update: Weber says that this crawling is one component of the recommendations and explains that staff, contractors, and the site’s users establish the majority of connections. The crawling is intended to help Inveni staff make recommendations faster.
The startup will initially remain focused on movies and TV, but says plans are in the works to expand beyond Hollywood — potentially to books and music.
Founded in 2008, Inveni debuted its service at TechCrunch Disrupt SF in September 2010. Since then, it has remained in beta, but Weber told me that he hopes to launch officially this spring.