IO, the company that launched on stage at Disrupt Europe and is looking to replace Yelp with a natural language recommendation engine, is today launching its service publicly in the Bay Area.
The app, re-branded from IO to Luka, is going live with more than 2,000 restaurants signed on in the Bay Area. But how does it all work?
Luka is an app that looks a lot like an SMS conversation. Users can message Luka with questions like “Anything fun to do tonight?” or “I have a date tonight. Where should we go?”
Luka then processes those requests and sends back recommendations that are based not only on the request itself but your history and preferences. Luka learns that you are a vegetarian or that you’re addicted to cheese or that a good fried fish taco is your reason for living. Knowing these things, Luka transforms what is usually a tedious browsing experience on Yelp into a relaxed experience in which Luka is doing the work.
Luka originally launched as IO, but the team told TechCrunch that Luka felt more personal and more suited to the brand, which is supposed to feel like a real-life human friend who knows all the coolest spots to go. Founder Eugenia Kuyda re-named the app Luka after her ten-year-old friend, who had asked to get his name in the app.
The original launch last year also included a NYC beta, while the company continued building out the service in their home country of Russia. However, Luka has since been accepted into Y Combinator and so the company shut down the NYC beta in order to work on SF, where they now live.
To learn more about Luka, head over to the website here.