Nara is a small startup with big ambitions. The company, which is coming out of stealth mode today, aims to “automate, personalize and curate the Web.” Nara’s Boston-based team, which consists of a healthy mix of entrepreneurs, artists, computer scientists, neuroscientists and astrophysicists, says that it wants to build nothing less than a “a next-generation personal internet platform.” Nara is starting a bit smaller than this, though, and is currently focusing on restaurant recommendations in a limited number of U.S. cities. In the long run, though, as Nara founder and CEO Thomas Copeman told me last week, the company hopes that its algorithms will be able to analyze all of the web and filter information based on the user’s personal interests and preferences.
Nara (which oddly enough doesn’t feature any deer in its logo) also today announced that it has raised a $4 million funding round led by Peter de Roetth and other angel investors. The company was founded in 2010 by Copeman and currently has 18 employees.
It’s worth remembering that today’s launch, with its focus on restaurant recommendations is just the tip of the iceberg of what Nara wants to achieve. That said, the restaurant search is a pretty impressive product in itself. You simply give it the name of three other restaurants you like and it will start profiling you based on this and the up or down votes you give to other restaurants on the site. Thanks to these initial reviews, the system works pretty well right from the start.
Copeman does not believe that purely social recommendation systems are the best way to help users decide which restaurant or event to go to. Instead, his team aims to use its neural network algorithms (the “Nara Neural Network”) and what Nara calls a “digital DNA” profile of the user to organize the web’s information for its users. With its recommendation systems, which will soon expand to other topics besides restaurants, the company wants to help users spend less time on searching and more time on doing the things they want to do.