Today a new startup called Peruse is launching. Peruse has developed a web service with a search box that lets you find files in Box accounts and personal Dropbox accounts using regular words — not keywords.
“Where is that sales projection spreadsheet I edited in March?” Luke Gotszling, cofounder and chief executive of Peruse, told VentureBeat in an interview last week, as he typed those words in to the Peruse search box. “Boom, there it is!”
It’s the kind of query that wouldn’t work in a cloud file sharing service. And Peruse should become more capable as it adds support for more file-sharing services.
Natural-language querying has become popular in business intelligence software, but file sharing has been less frequently targeted. And it’s just the beginning for Peruse.
Today the startup will open up a waiting list for the ability to answer questions in searches, by finding data sitting in cells in spreadsheets. The system can understand queries and figure out which rows and columns to refer to in order to provide an answer below the Peruse search box.
“You don’t even have to open the spreadsheet,” Gotszling said.
The feature could come in handy for data analysts who don’t want to dig through spreadsheets spanning, say, 20 pages, Gotszling said.
“The way we index these files is we actually look at them visually — it understands them in a way a person would understand them,” said Gotszling, who is showing off Peruse today at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York.
Over time Peruse will add support for other file types other than spreadsheets, Gotszling said.
Two people are working with him part-time on Peruse, which has not yet taken on funding.
Gotszling previously was an early employee at About.me. More recently he started cloud monitoring startup Finally.io, which shut down in March.
The experience of document search has not changed since 1995, Gotszling said. He thinks it’s about time that changed.