Side takes friends’ opinions to the recommendation bank


Image via Side
Image via Side

Who knows you better, your friends or your computer?

If you answered friends, then you should be interested in the new app, Side, a recommendation engine that goes beyond computer algorithms and actually taps in to your friends’ opinions thanks to a direct connection to Facebook.

If you answered computer, maybe you need some new friends.

Anyway, through the app, friends answer a series of questions about your personality and habits (everything from your ideal first date to what type of car you’ll be driving in ten years) in order for Side to recommend new products and services that match you as a person, and not just your search history.

“At their core, recommendation algorithms are supposed to be a platform for discovery. However, because the current models are only based on a very particular part of your character — what you’ve been looking at online — they fail to really ever provide suggestions that are truly different from what you are already looking at,” the Side designers explained via the official company blog. “For example, all it takes is a few minutes of searching for sunglasses online to have every ad you see and every recommendation you get based on your supposed interest in sunglasses. Unfortunately, current recommendation engines have to be so targeted in their approach because, without a human component, they must rely on purely objective data to figure out what you may like. At Side, we are able to paint a much more complete picture of a user by tapping into the subjective opinions of those who know that person the best. This broad view allows us to help users discover products, experiences, and services that are not so obviously linked to one particular attribute and therefore can genuinely surprise them.”

The intuitive iOS app was created by Harvard sophomores Nithin Tumma, James Ruben, and Neel Patel as part of the Summer@Highland startup accelerator, and it has already been so well received that Side has also just been announced as the newest portfolio company of General Catalyst’s Rough Draft Ventures.

Now, if only I can get my friends to see me in a Ferrari.