Every Valentine's Day, I get a trail of roses from my bedroom door to another part of the house, leading up to a very special surprise. It's something I've clearly gotten used to (please don't stop if you're reading this, dear), but something I look forward to every year. For my part, I'm always looking for something just as special to do for my husband.
That's where RAVN comes in. Just in time for Valentine's Day - and for those of you like me seeking something interesting to do - RAVN is officially launching.
RAVN, formerly known as Skyara, is one of the first start-ups that participated in i/o Ventures three-month Accelerator program in 2010, in which it took $25,000 in funding for 6% to 8% of their company. It launched in November of that year, but like many start-up evolutions, the inital idea the team had focused on has evolved into something else.
"RAVN is about helping you discover unique events in your city," said Jonathan Wu, co-founder and CEO of RAVN, in an interview with me. "We crawl through all the events in a city. And, based on popularity, we’ll incorporate them and deliver them to you."
Sounds interesting and somewhat similar to Plancast, which is a directory of events that you can discover through people you follow or categories you like. But it's not. "Plancast is about people sharing events," said Wu. "RAVN is about helping you discover unique events in your city."
Indeed, on RAVN, you can find out what's happening at CalShakes.org or the San Francisco Symphony, which aren't exactly events you'd find on Plancast. But RAVN wants to be particularly helpful in finding unique events, like random Truffle hunts, an event that Wu stumbled upon while vacationing in Italy, which gave him the idea for RAVN. "I love traveling and hate missing out on cool events," he said.
Much like services that want to personalize, the sign-up process involves Facebook Connect. Additionally, RAVN relies on users to input their interests.
The curation process works best if a person actually inputs data about what he or she likes and which events he or she attends. "Every event has a series of meta data that we can use to personalize it for you," Wu explained. "Think of it as Pandora. You can mark a song and like a song, and as you continue to use it, your results get more refined."
As mentioned earlier, RAVN started out as Skyera, an "Airbnb for activities," as Wu described it. It was a venue for people to offer up events, or more like classes. For instance, if you are a yoga insructor, you could let everyone know you were holding a yoga class. "RAVN evolved out of this," said Wu. " We found our users were just interestd in finding new things to do. They were interested in finding unique things to do that were broader in general."
RAVN is currently only available on the iPhone, but the team plans to have an Android version out later this year.