Ex-TechCruncher launches semantic Q&A service Beepl

Beepl is a questions and answers service, which launches today. Co-founder/CEO and ex-TechCrunch blogger Steve O’Hear actually left TC to do this startup is convinced that Beepl can take on the the so-called Q&A field better than Quora. But how?

Unlike Quora where the questions come first and can thus make the service look quite chaotic, it’s Beepl’s aim to first find the experts in a subject who can answer the questions. It does this by applying its semantic engine to users’ interests as surfaced through various social media profiles, such as their Facebook likes, LinkedIn skills and recent tweets, along with their explicit activity on Beepl itself. It’s the startup’s use of this semantic technology that makes it different from Quora. Instead of experts having to look for or follow a question, the questions essentially “follow” the experts.

To continue the inevitable comparison to Quora, O’Hear told me that Beepl is more like social media rather than a wiki-type resource, “so we don’t care if the same question is being asked again and again” he says. Why? Because the experts it surfaces are always changing and improving,so the answers can be ever more relevant.

The questions can be also asked on Twitter with a hash tag #ask and the answers are fed into Beepl and represent additional source of information. This function however has not yet been tested as Beepl was in a closed alpha up until now (it opens up today). The experts are awarded expertise points, but their PeerIndex or Klout scores are not taken into account. Perhaps that could change – given that Beepl could become a social ranking for experts answering questions. We’ll see I guess.

Beepl raised $400,000 from Czech venture capital firm Credo Ventures last summer and is headquartered in London, but its R&D team is based in Prague, Czech Republic.

Meanwhile, Beepl is not alone in trying to improve the effectiveness of a Q&A services. In Poland a startup called Wisdio has recently raised $140,000 of seed money from local VCs and business angels. According to its founder and CEO Sebastian Zontek, the service aims to deliver questions to the right people taking into account their activity data on Wisdio, other social networks as well as their behavioural profiles.