Sherpa, a personal assistant app that launched initially in the Spanish-speaking world, just announced that it has raised $1.7 million in funding from undisclosed angel investors.
Sherpa users can speak or type their requests, and the app answers them by collecting information from around the web. The company has also partnered with PayPal and other services, so that users accomplish tasks like making travel reservations and transferring money.
The technology was developed by founder and CEO Xabier Uribe-Etxebarria. He actually stopped by the TechCrunch office last fall to show off the app and to compare the results to what you would find in Siri and in Wolfram Alpha. There were, in fact, a number of cases where he’d asked some factual questions and get more complete and relevant answers from Sherpa than the competition. (To be clear, that was a pretty limited test. Since I don’t speak Spanish fluently or own an Android phone, I haven’t tested the live app.)
The big differentiator, he said, is the level at which Sherpa can understand your question — for one thing, he said the app understands more than 250,000 concepts and 5,000 syntactic and semantic rules.
Sherpa, which is currently Android-only (the goal is to turn it into a broader cross-device platform), launched in October, and the company says it has been downloaded 400,000 times. Next it plans to launch in North America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and South Africa in the second quarter of the year.
If you’re a Spanish speaker, you can download the app from Google Play here.