Qloo, an iOS app that makes personalized recommendations across a wide range of categories, has closed a $3 million seed funding round with participation from angel investors Samih Toukan and Hussam Khoury, founders of Maktoob (which was acquired by Yahoo in 2009) and Cross Creek Pictures founding partner Tommy Thompson (who produced “Black Swan”). This round includes a previously announced $1.4 million raised from Qloo investors Kindler Capital, actor Danny Masterson and Cedric the Entertainer. The startup also launched its free app today.
While there are lots of other content discovery platforms, Qloo wants to differentiate by offering suggestions across eight verticals–music, film, TV, dining, nightlife, fashion, books and travel–with its proprietary, patent-pending recommendation engine. This means you don’t have to visit individual sites or apps like Goodread, Prescreen or Soundwave, and is especially handy for mobile users.
To use Qloo, you have to select at least four categories and enter one of your favorite things in each. I told Qloo that I like the book We Have Always Lived In The Castle, the movie “Let The Right Ones In,” “Mad Men,” the French electronic music duo Air and Ethiopian food. Some of the suggestions it came up with were indie rock band The Walkmen, author Neil Strauss, the 1984 movie “Paris, Texas” and fashion brand Nicole Miller. It also told me I might enjoy a “date night” in the 21st Amendment La Louisiane, a New Orleans bar. All of these recommendations piqued my interest, except for the fashion one, which seemed somewhat random. I have no plans to visit Louisiana soon, but I do like the latest season of “American Horror Story,” which takes place in New Orleans, as well as speakeasy-style bars, so I’m happy to consider the 21st Amendment La Louisiane for my fantasy travel list.
Qloo lets you vote yay or nay on recommendations by swiping left or right, which is supposed to train the app to make better suggestions. The startup says Qloo’s recommendation engine sourced data from a group of 25,000 “tastemakers” who entered more than a million things into the app’s private-beta. Each of the eight verticals also contain subcategories, so you can get even more specific recommendations. For example, you can chose “biographies,” “books for the coffee table” or “fun reads” in the book section. The app lets you sample recommendations by playing song samples, watching movie trailers, buying books or looking at menus. Qloo also includes a social discovery feature so you can find other people who share your interests or follow users. If you live in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles or London, you can take advantage of Qloo’s “hyper-local” recommendations. It plans to add more cities on an ongoing basis.
The startup was founded in 2012 by Alex Elias and Jay Alger and plans to release an Android app by the end of this year, followed by a tablet version.