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Spotsetter’s social approach to search helps you know where to go

Spotsetter launched today and announced that it has raised a total of $1.3 million in seed funding.

The startup has built a social search engine on top of Google Maps and makes personalized recommendations for places to go.

“The premise is that when people do search, it is becoming more and more personal,” said founder and CEO Johnny Lee in an interview with VentureBeat. “We wanted to take all the rich social content out there and provide information that is more relevant and endorsements that are more meaningful.”

Spotsetter culls information from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Foursqure, as well as information from public review sites like local blogs Yelp and TripAdvisor. The mobile app presents users with local options based on places their friends like. You can label your friends with tags like “foodie,” “nightlife ninja,” and “savvy shopper,” and their picks will get sent to the top of your search rankings.

“There is still not a strong social answer to the question of ‘where to go,’” Lee said. “We think we have a really unique approach. This is something Google and Apple maps have not delivered to users. We are not just layering social on top of maps — this is advanced search ranking technology.”

Spotsetter was founded two years ago and went through the Angelpad accelerator program last year. The app has been in public beta for two months and analyzed 5 million user profiles and 40 million venues. Lee founded Spotsetter along with cofounder Stephen Tse who was an engineer at Google maps. Foursquare offers a similar social layer but only presents information from Foursquare users, and they wanted to build a product that worked across multiple platforms.

Users can look up any place, category, or keyword or refer to specific friends that they know are experts in those areas. There is also a discovery element that lets you zoom across a map to find where your friends have been. This is particularly useful if you are traveling somewhere unfamiliar and have no idea where to go. Rather than texting your friends for recommendations, Spotsetter can, in theory, tell you what venues they would recommend.

The company is based in San Francisco. Javelin Venture Partners led this round with participation from angel investors.

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