Restaurant finding service Nara debuts, snags $4M

Why not have a team of scientists help you find the best restaurant in town

Technology trends and news by Krystal Peak
June 26, 2012
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Nara a start aimed to improve restaurant and other recommendations, is exiting its stealth mode today and announced that it raised a $4 million funding round. 

The Cambridge-Mass. based company, which is starting its service with recommendations in a limited number of U.S. cities has hopes to become a platform that can analyze and filter a whole host of recommendations based on each person's interests.

The latest $4 million round was led by Peter de Roetth and other angel investors. 

Nara has been in stealth mode since it was founded in 2010 by Thomas Copeman, a serial entrepreneur that has helped build brands such as lululemon athletica and BodyGlide. The company currently has 18 employees.

While the service is starting out with just restaurant recommendations, the offerings are fairly impressive -- all you have to do is enter three restaurants that you like and Nara starts. Users can then see the recommendations and vote if they like or don't like the recommendation and then save given restaurants to a list and even connect right from there to Open Table for reservations.

Rather than work solely off of social recommendations, Nara factor in neural network algorithms and what Nara calls a “digital DNA” profile of the user to organize the web’s information for its users. 

"Nara is all about 'finding,' not searching," said Thomas Copeman, chief executive officer and founder of Nara in a statement. "The Internet should work for you, not the other way around. I started Nara based on the belief that we can all achieve a life well found. By creating the category of finding, we hope to push humanity towards discovering a greater understanding of what excites us and connects us back to the real world."

The Nara team is a sorted bunch of computer scientists, creative artists, neuroscientists, astrophysicists, and technology and Internet veterans. 

Nara's chief technology officer, Dr. Nathan Wilson is a computer and neuroscientist who has dedicated his career to understanding new models of computation based on the architecture of the brain. With a doctorate in brain and cognitive sciences from MIT, and a master's degree in computer science and artificial intelligence from Cornell, Nathan conceived and built the Nara Neural Network. This complex algorithm closely mirrors a human brain in terms of information gathering and decision-making and is the underlying framework responsible for driving the technology inside of the Nara platform.



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