Calendo, an iOS app that surfaces upcoming events an individual would like to attend, has been in an extended beta period for the past four months, during which time it went live in Israel, followed by Ireland a couple of weeks ago.
During the stealth phase, Calendo claimed to have matched events “twice as effectively as Facebook”, with users increasing their event attendance from four to nine on average per month, based on 2,000 beta users.
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Now, the Tel Aviv-based startup has quietly drawn back the curtains for users around the world, so we thought we’d check it out.
Calendo brings events to you
Calendo sells itself as “a smart recommendation engine for events” – it learns users’ tastes and preferences, and scans thousands of events to filter only those it thinks he or she would like to attend. That’s it in a nutshell, at least.
First up, Calendo needs access to your Facebook profile to know the basics about you – gender, location, age, likes and so on. So, if you’re not a fan of Facebook-centric apps, you can look away now.
When you first set-up shop, it will suggest Pages to follow within the app, and other Facebook friends to follow, ones who are already using Calendo. It will also ask for permission to reel in information from your other friends on Facebook, presumably based on the assumption that what your Facebook friends like, you will also like.
When I tested the app, things got off to a good start – it suggested I may like to attend the TNW Europe Conference next week. I was one-step ahead of Calendo on this occasion though, as I’m already going.
Once you bookmark the event, you will have the option to check-in to that event via Facebook, invite other friends, export to your calendar, or share on Facebook/Twitter.
Calendo seemed obsessed with pop sensation Rihanna for some strange reason – it kept on recommending I go see her strut her stuff live on stage, even though I don’t live anywhere near the locations it suggests. That’s when I realized ‘Anywhere’ was the default location – and also, because I’m not overly active with Facebook events, it would’ve had difficulty recommending events at first.
But it would be helpful if it defaulted to the user’s current location, on the assumption that they’re not going to travel to Germany or New York to see Rihanna – I don’t even like Rihanna. Well, I don’t mind her – but I would’ve liked a ‘No Rihanna’ button right there.
The good news here, however, is that Calendo claims to “intelligently adapt” to a person’s unique tastes over time, so only time will tell if Rihanna rears her head again.
Another annoying little feature was this – it kept on suggesting that I invite my friends, to which I selected ‘No, thanks’, but it wouldn’t take no for an answer. Perhaps every 3 events or so, it would ask me again.
Moving on, Calendo then suggested I’d maybe wish to go see Rihanna in London instead, once I’d set the app to use my current location. While I would naturally prefer to see Rihanna closer to home, I’m still more of a rock ‘n roll kinda guy at heart.
Oh, and it also kept suggesting that I ‘Like’ Calendo on Facebook, even though I was quite clear about my intentions not to do so.
These minor gripes aside though, I actually did find Calendo to be a really sweet app once I got past the initial teething troubles. And I do realize that it would have difficulties suggesting events based on the available information it had.
After a while, however, it did throw up a tonne of useful events, some of which I may actually attend, and I can easily access these from my bookmarks tab. Events range from concerts and sporting events, to parties and art exhibitions.
Alternatively, there’s also a ‘Today’ tab which sifts out events nearby (or in some far off place, if you like) that you may wish to attend if you find yourself bored one afternoon.
You can easily keep tabs on all the Pages and People you’re following in Calendo, and at any moment you can invite Facebook Friends or address book contacts to join too.
It will be interesting to see how this app develops. It claims to be a better event-surfacing service than what Facebook itself offers, so it wouldn’t surprise me if these guys are looking to garner the attention of Zuck’s M&A team.
“Calendo’s vision is to help people enrich their offline lives by allowing them to discover new activities, expand their social circles and make better use of their leisure time,” explains Eran Back, co-founder & CEO of Calendo.
It was interesting to note that the number of events attended by the average Calendo user increased from 4 events to 9 events each month during the beta phase. From my initial dabblings, I can easily see why that would be the case.
Both Calendo founders, Eran Back and Dov Frank, are veteran startup entrepreneurs. Back recently founded Tagsback, an automatic photo-sharing platform, while Frank has previously launched social shopping platform eGroupy.
The duo teamed up with serial entrepreneur Saar Wilf, founder of ‘Fraud Sciences’ which was acquired by eBay for $169m back in 2008. Wilf invested a $500K seed round in the venture and also serves as chairman of the board.
Calendo is available to download for free from the App Store now, and we’re told an Android incarnation is in the works too.
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