Tout’d Puts $1.4M Seed Round toward Updating Recommendation Platform

7/26/12Follow @jpruth

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the feed when someone asks a question, a week later you can’t really find it,” he says.

In addition to offering direct responses to questions, Tout’d also mines its database for all answers to similar questions posed within the users’ extended social circles. “If you are looking for an Italian restaurant in New York, we’ll show you all the Italian restaurants that were previously recommended by your friends who answered other friends,” Morelli says.

With the seed funding, he says the company plans to redesign its website, begin work on a mobile app due in the coming months, and hire at least one more developer. Tout’d already has some experienced entrepreneurs on its team. Kallenberg, part of the 2007 TechStars class in Boulder, CO., co-founded Villij.com, which was a recommendation engine for matching users with other people who shared similar interests. Villij did not survive in spite of the TechStars pedigree, but Kallenberg says he is using his technical expertise and overall experience in entrepreneurship to help grow Tout’d. “I don’t want to make the same mistakes, I want to make new mistakes,” he says. “I want to go bigger and better.”

Cutri and Morelli are also building on their prior efforts. Morelli and Cutri say they left the world of big banks to establish their own financials services company but then decided they wanted out of that market. Seeking a fresh challenge in New York’s tech renaissance, they co-founded WhichDoc last year. WhichDoc relied on users volunteering information about doctors, which Morelli says was comparable to Yelp reviews. Kallenberg came on board during the development of WhichDoc but the team decided to pivot early this year. “[WhichDoc] limited the ability of friends to share recommendations with friends,” Morelli says. “It didn’t create the same type of social incentives that Tout’d does.” The company plans to sell ads to local businesses and vendors next to the recommendations. Tout’d also lets users purchase recommended products through links to Amazon. Partnerships to book hotel rooms, airfare, and restaurants reservations are also in the works.

Cutri believes the Tout’d platform can set itself apart from rival recommendation sites by letting users ask their community of friends general questions, such as where to take a daytrip with the family, and not just about businesses, products, and services. “That is something Yelp really can’t do for you,” he says.

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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