In a world where information overload is driving us further apart, a startup called Loku has launched a technology to connect neighbors to their community and help people find cool things to do nearby.
Loku boils down huge feeds of data from sources such as local blogs and weekly newspapers, social media, restaurant reviews and deals, arranging them in a gorgeous webzine layout that’s automatically customized for your neighborhood. Currently Loku is rolling out in 15 cities.
Loku was created to solve a very real problem for founder Dan Street. He spent four or five nights per week traveling. Street, who worked in private equity and then as a consultant, says that he turned this road warrior lifestyle into a game and tried to experience life the way a local would. “I became obsessed with the idea of how do you become part of the community,” says Street.
Another issue, Street says, is that people within neighborhoods don’t really feel all that connected to each other, and often there isn’t a good way for them to stay on top of what’s going on around them. “People don’t feel there’s a problem, because there’s nothing to solve it,” he says. In our mass media age, he says, we are unaware of just how disconnected we our from our neighbors and our neighborhoods.
With Loku, he hopes that people will be able to harness the torrent of social media data and the constant stream of information to have more meaningful local interactions.
Building Loku has taken three years and $350,000 of Street’s own money, with $1 million raised from angel investors, including Dave McClure’s 500 Startups.
“Where I’d like to have the biggest impact is certainly an automated version of Patch, with more tools for discovery,” said Street, referring to Aol’s network of community news sites that has been rolling out across the U.S. over the past two years. “A little bit of Google, a little bit of Patch and a little bit of Yelp,” says Street of Loku.