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This article was published on June 26, 2012

Next-generation recommendation engine Nara launches, taking on $4m

Next-generation recommendation engine Nara launches, taking on $4m
Alex Wilhelm
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Alex Wilhelm

Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]

Today Nara has launched itself into the market, in a bid to make the web more personal, by generating recommendations that individuals can use on a daily basis, at a much higher level of accuracy than was previously possible. The company is rife with PhDs, something that shows in its work.

Nara is very much a technology company, and more so than your average startup. Instead of simply using parts and pieces of modern technology to build a product, Nara is instead pressing on with the business of building next-generation neural networks to change what is possible with current computing power. Its creation, dubbed the ‘Nara Neural Network,’ according to the company, is modeled after the human brain. Given what Nara wants it to do, that’s not too surprising.

What the company intends, and claims to have done in a single specific niche thus far, is to create a system that can take in small amounts of data, and come to large conclusions from it. Most online recommendation systems require continuous, or extensive input of information, a process of training, to become useful. Nara, on the other hand, is different, at least in theory. Its entire system is built on the idea of limited in, maximum out.

The company also today announced some $4 million in funding, led by Peter de Roetth and participated in by other unnamed angels.

When you sign up for Nara, you select a town, and then give it three names, the names of three restaurants. From there, it recommends other places that you might like. From three pieces of data, it tries to generate a list that you can use. From its beta website, Nara claims to have “50,000 restaurants in 8 cities” in its database. Drop down menus reveal that the company is working next on shopping, hotels, and other entertainment. Currently, places to eat are its only game.

TNW spoke with Nathan Wilson, Nara’s CTO, to discuss the ins and outs of the company’s technology. Given what we were told, what the company envisions is something far grander than a simple engine that will help you pick where you have dinner. If the company’s plans come to fruition, which will mean that their technology behaves as they think it will, Nara could be a step forward for finding a great host of things, in any area, based on your preferences in others. That’s big.

However, for now, it will help you find a place to have a drink in SOMA. As Nara matures, we will keep you posted.

➤ Nara

Image credit: Pixeljones