Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Alike Helps You Find Places You'll Love

You most likely know your neighborhood pretty well. You know where to find the best vegetable curry, where to find the cutest clothes, and where all the cool kids hang out on a Saturday night. But what if you visit a city you've never been to before and don't know anyone there? Sure, you could turn to online reviews, but can you really trust what complete strangers are saying? What's good for them may not work for you. This is where Alike comes in.

Recently released for the iPhone, Alike is a mobile and web app that tells you which places nearby match your tastes and preferences. Simply key in the name of your favorite spot and it will show you a list of recommendations that are most like your search query. Alike also provides venue details, menus, deals, ratings, photos, and more.

Founder Maria Zhang, a software engineer who had previously worked at Microsoft and Zillow, leads Alike's team of self-described data geeks and mobile enthusiasts who love to shop. “Our mission is to make searching on the go simple and easy so everyone will end up having wonderful experiences while out and about,” she says.

But how does Alike know just how similar two places are to each other? “We've painstakingly collected hundreds of terabytes of data and crafted complex algorithms to really understand the essence of a place,” Zhang explains. “We compare these essences to discover similar places. The great thing about this big data approach is that there is no waiting for a critical mass of 500 of your friends or 10 million other people for the service to be useful.”

So far, Alike has analyzed nearly 20 million places and over 201 million attributes. And it's continuously doing so to offer even more and even better suggestions.

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