Today a new company called Smarterer has raised $1.25 million from True Ventures and Google Ventures, with participation from angels including Mark Gerson, Shikhar Ghosh, Scott Kurnit, Peter Lehrman, Thomas Lehrman, and Dharmesh Shah, among others. And tonight the service is opening in an invite-only private beta (more on that in a moment).
Smarterer’s product revolves around a fairly straightforward theory: it doesn’t take a lot of time to gauge if someone is competent in a given subject. In fact, Smarterer thinks it can determine your proficiency in just about anything in 60 seconds and 10 multiple choice questions.
The experience is slightly nerve-wracking. After starting a test you’ll be given a practice question that doesn’t count, so that you can familiarize yourself with the system, but then it’s on to the real quiz. A question appears at the top of the screen with a handful of multiple choice answers below it, and a bar representing the amount of time you have left trickling rapidly downward (remember, you’re only supposed to be spending a few seconds on each question). Pick your answer, and you’ll immediately be told whether or not you were correct. Click a button and you’re onto the next question.
After ten or so questions, you’ll get a score, which goes into your user profile. You can also generate embeddable badges that you can put on your personal website. The beta system is actually taking advantage of the badges — in order to gain access for now, you need to find someone with a badge, and click on it to request that they send you a beta invite.
The system seems pretty simple, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. Smarterer users your performance on the first few questions to get a sense of how much you know, then uses that information to determine which questions to ask next (i.e. if you miss the first two questions, you’ll be presented with easy questions for the remainder of the session, and you’ll probably get a fairly low rank).
Now, the idea behind Smarterer isn’t entirely novel. Gild, which launched at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco last year, also lets people demonstrate and display their skillset using a variety of tests. But that site is geared primarily to the tech industry, whereas Smarterer seems to have a broader focus.
Smarterer is planning to hit a large number of topics with its tests by using a crowd-sourcing system. After completing a test in a topic, you can opt to submit additional questions, and if they’re good, you’ll earn more points (the system can figure out a good question based on how many people get it right — the best questions will be difficult). Users can flag questions that they think are incorrect.
The company plans to eventually monetize by working with recruiters and companies looking to hire. They say that eventually they hope this will replace the ‘Skills’ section in a standard resume.
So does it work? I took several tests (most of them seem to be tech-oriented at this point, so I did tests about Gmail, Facebook, and Google Search). My results: I’m apparently awesome at Facebook, pretty good at Gmail, and not-so-great at Google Search. I don’t really agree with that assessment (my Google-foo is pretty strong, thanks), but over time the questions will improve, and I can always take more tests to try to prove my real worth. Overall, I could see this working well at gauging experience for many topics, but there’s a risk that some of them will become tests of trivia as opposed to skill.
The company was funded and conceived by BzzAgent CEO Dave Balter, and Jennifer Fremont-Smith is Smarterer’s CEO. The Boston-based team currently has four employees.