There are definitely times where I feel like my social life has gotten a bit … not monotonous, but tied to a familiar pattern of bookstores, movie theaters, bars, and karaoke bars. That’s why I’m checking out a new site called SpotOn.it, which tries to break people out of their own personal ruts by recommending different types of events.
There are lots of other activity-recommendation apps out there (the most interesting to me has probably been Weotta). SpotOn.it is different because it integrates with your Google Calendar, from which it can learn two important things — what you like to do, and what your schedule looks like.
“Our tech is based off building statistical models off of how people spend their time,” said co-founder and CEO Smita Saxena. She noted that she and her co-founder and CTO Charles Feng both have a background in machine learning.
SpotOn.it is also crawling the web to gather information about different events and activities, and identifying the basic characteristics of each activity. (The service has a pretty broad range of sources, Saxena said, though it’s still working on getting local events information from print magazines — she described it as “the last frontier”). Put that together with your event information and it can recommend nearby activities that take place when you’re free and that are tailored to your interests.
You can also “like” activities and add them to your wish list (which is shared with other users) or your calendar. That, in turn, gives SpotOn.it more data for making personalized recommendations.
It sounds like there’s a pretty broad range of activities. For example, Saxena said that SpotOn.it has been in private beta, and that one of the big user groups is moms in the San Francisco Bay Area. So if a mom had an hour or two free with one of her children, SpotOn.it could recommend play groups nearby. I also signed myself up and got a pretty interesting range of activities that I could do this weekend — like tandem skydiving and visiting the GLBT museum. I hadn’t heard of most of them, but they all sounded like things I might enjoy. (Though, no, I’m not going skydiving.)
The service is free, and Saxena said that she plans to make money eventually by integrating local deals that are tailored to users’ interests. She also said SpotOn.it could integrate with other services through an SDK allowing those services to offer activity recommendations to their own users.
The company is a graduate of StartX, the incubator for Stanford students and alums.