Cut Through the Social Recommendation Noise with Sherpia

July 21, 2011

11:30 am

There’s a big problem on the Internet, and Sherpia is trying to fix it.

The problem?  Recommendation sites, from music to hotels, aggregate user preferences based on the wisdom of the masses; however, the masses don’t always apply to us. For example, pop music is fun and fluffy, but people rarely really, really love it.  If 10% of people are in the majority, and 90% like something different, then the many different minority preferences together outweigh the majority.

The solution?  Sherpia’s hybrid search engine/social recommendation website that makes it easy for users to find relevant sites based on their interests.  Sherpia recognizes that people trust the opinions of those they know, so their goal is to connect users with websites that have been personally recommended by friends, co-workers, and industry experts.

After several months of private testing, Sherpia has opened their alpha release to the public and launched their Industry Guide Program, which includes Common Sense Media, Forbes.com, SheFinds, Bestcovery, iLearn Technology, and several others.

Sherpia is not alone in it’s quest to personalize the Internet – there are a few other companies doing something similar:

  • Lunch lets you find and share opinions on wide variety of items
  • Gogobot believes that when planning a trip, the best advice comes from people you trust and people like you
  • The Shared Web helps you discover the best of the web through the people who’s taste you trust most
  • Hunch helps you share and discover great recommendations about all sorts of topics

In order for Sherpia to succeed, they’ll have to manage the difficult Catch-22 of startups: in order to get users, you need to have users.  The next robust preference-slicing website will be popular because it is robust, and it will be robust because it’s popular.

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Patrick has been involved in the DC and Seattle startup communities for over 2 years… an eternity in tech startups! He has taken two companies from vision to reality as Operations Manager. Fresh off orchestrating a dream move from Seattle to New York, he intends on returning to finance/consulting while advising eager start-ups whenever possible. Reach him on twitter @Skelley84

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