Spot Taps Experts And Friends To Recommend The Best Restaurants, Shops And More

Startup studio Expa is unveiling its newest company today — Spot, which promises to help users to find “the best places in the world.”

In other words, Spot will deliver personalized recommendations for things like restaurants, bars, stores and hotels. You can use it as a guide when you’re traveling, or to explore your home city.

The app isn’t launching today — it’s in private beta testing right now, but company lead Luke Groesbeck (previously co-founder of Job Alchemist and consumer product lead at Eventbrite) is ready to talk about the basics of the product, and about his vision.

When it comes to local discovery and travel guides, Groesbeck acknowledged that Yelp and Trip Advisor dominate, but he said they “came to prominence in the early days of the web.” His aim with Spot is build “a mobile company that works as well in your corner as it does on the other side of the world.”

There have also been other startups trying to do something similar, and they haven’t exactly taken off. Groesbeck said “it’s a really hard problem,” but what other companies have focused on is “the design side of the equation — they tried to design a better Yelp, a better Trip Advisor.” And once they built it, they assumed users would provide all the actual recommendations.

“In this day and age you cannot rely entirely on user generated content to build something that’s going to work at scale,” he said. “One of the things we have that’s different is global reach and local depth. The way we do that is, we’re trying to do for the real world what Google has done for the web.”

For starters, Spot is crawling the web to see how people are discussing different locations. It’s also trying to bring on travel experts and local curators, particularly during this beta phase.

So when the app launches, if you’re looking for a good coffee shop, instead than being presented with a long list of choices and reviews, Spot will supposedly give you smart recommendations based on experts. Over time, those recommendations should get more personal, based on your activity in the app and on the activity of your friends.

As I said up top, Spot is part of Expa, the startup studio created by StumbleUpon and Uber co-founder Garrett Camp. The first company to launch out of Expa was restaurant app-maker Reserve.

You can sign up for Spot’s private beta here.