Keeping your finger on the pulse of all things local just got that much easier with the Tuesday launch of Loku's new HTML5 app. The app follows on the heels of the September beta launch of the Loku.com website.
Another local/mobile deal, you ask? Yes--but with a pretty interesting angle. Let's say you're standing on Market Street in downtown San Francisco and you whip out your phone to see what's nearby. You pull up the Loku app and see that two blocks down, a highly rated local band is playing at a nearby bar. You walk toward the bar, but decide you should stick to your New Year's resolution to stop spending all your money at bars, you big drunk, and you scrap the plan. You reopen Loku, and now you can see a new list of nearby restaurants and events.
The app essentially acts as a constant stream of local information that changes according to your location. That element of discovery is what ultimately differentiates Loku from local search tools like Yelp, according to CEO Dan Street.
"We are more about exploring your local community in a fun way. To do that, we show people events (concerts, happy hours, etc), pictures, restaurants, local facts, and more, whereas Yelp is about finding a specific restaurant, service provider, etc that you want."
And while Yelp relies on user input, Loku mines the Web using a local analytics engine called "Sherpa" to pull updates and reviews on events from social media and the Internet. At launch, the app will cover six cities: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Austin, Chicago, and New York.
Since the site's beta launch last September, user acquisition has seen 50-80% growth month-over-month. Currently, some 60,000 users check in regularly using Loku.
Founded in 2008, Street says that it took over two years just to build the company's tech platform.
"Loku is a really challenging product from that side. We do a lot of work in natural language processing, computer vision, machine learning and more to provide things nearby that you'd love. Now that our engine is built, we're growing fast and people seem to love what we're doing!"
The company has raised $1.4 million to date.