Gus G. Sentementes
3:18 PM EDT, June 5, 2012
Every once and awhile, you see a new twist on an age-old way of doing things. Baltimore's Woofound is that new twist.
The old twist, in this instance, is using the Internet to find things you want to do. A lot of apps out there make you hunt and peck through categories, checking off boxes, or sifting through reviews to get a not-so-great list of stuff you might be interested in.
Woofound for iPhone, created by Dan Sines and Josh Spears, makes you take a fun visual test of your likes and dislikes (rather "Me" or "Not me"), and assesses your preferences. The app has some artificial intelligence and a lot of know-how of human psychology baked into it, the creators tell me.
The result is a slick user interface that helps you discover lots of different things in your area -- from activities to events to restaurants -- based on your stated likes and dislikes.
Baltimoreans should know that Woofound, a 15-person startup that's based in Middle River, has some legs. The company has raised a little over a million dollars from private investors since its founding last year.
And, their personality-matching technology has so many potential uses in so many different fields that the iPhone app that they released this week is just the tip of the iceberg, in my view.
"Woofound at its core is a matching engine that quicly learns about user personality and preference," said co-founder Dan Sines in an interview.
Spears said the iPhone app would come in useful for travelers who land in a new city and want to find a range of new things to do, without browsing on Yelp or Google. "Instead of going on Yelp or Google and having to sift through countless options and reviews, we're narrowing the results to who you are as a person," Spears said.
Woofound's development is being guided by psychoanalyst and psychotherapist Dr. Noreen Honeycutt, who has a private practice in Baltimore, says TechCrunch. Honeycutt is the head of psychology at Woofound.
[Aside: Kudos to Woofound for having a "head of psychology." How many startups can say they have that interesting position on staff?]
As for the app itself? It's nicely designed and very fun to use. The app has a lot of info on Baltimore and Washington, but the Woofound team is starting to fill it up with information about cities all over the country.
So, one of the questions that we should ask: Do people need this? Is this new twist new enough?
I think so. Woofound's tech is being tapped by the University of Maryland Baltimore County to help their students better match themselves to careers. Imagine colleges across the country helping students match their interests to whatever they wish to do on campus. The perfect freshman tool? Maybe.
I'd also imagine Woofound's approach could find a home in the online dating scene -- competition for Match.com?
"We're designed to cut through the clutter," said Sines. "We want to show poeple things that are truly relevant to them."
BTW, is there perhaps anything more relevant than finding the right mate?
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