“Discover the best of the web based on your interests”. This is how readers are welcomed on-line by Theneeds, the company “Made in Italy” based for over a year in San Francisco, within one of the most important startup accelerator for technology and innovation.
Initially created in January 2013 as a web platform focused on personalized content recommendation, as the name itself suggests, Theneeds has also become since last month an application for iPhone.
The startup created by three co-founders, Gabriele Pansa, Luca Albertalli and Emanuele Cesena, is now composed of a team of six people, and is seeing a growing presence in the U.S. market for online information.
In addition to offering attractive services and news selected from thousands of sources of information, Theneeds differs from similar programs of digital news (ie the magazines-like Flipboard) thanks to its advanced technology, which allows to make a refined service tailored to the interests of the reader.
L'Italo-Americano interviewed Gabriele Pansa, one of the founders and CEO of Theneeds.
What is the concept behind the creation of Theneeds, and why here in San Francisco?
The idea was born two years ago, sharing with friends the frustration of an on-line experience only focused on research and extremely time consuming when looking for something interesting.
We wondered if we could do something to help finding relevant content. Along with Luca Albertalli, with whom I had already shared a work experience, we started working on how this could be developed, then we were joined by Emanuele Cesena, a researcher in mathematics, to work on the algorithms and technology.
Since the beginning we had in mind as our target the U.S. market, both for the size and the language since our technology is developed in English, so we decided over a year ago to move to San Francisco. The experience in our work environment is certainly very useful, as we are surrounded by other startups which already became very successful.
After testing our service with a private version of Theneeds, last summer we opened the platform to everyone and our web presence has grown by 80% per month. Finally a few weeks ago we have launched our new iPhone application.
If you had to pick three words to describe what Theneeds offers to its users, what could they be?
Personalization first. The shorter description of what we do is personalized content recommendation on your interests.
The experience of discovery is also important. Usually what happens when you are looking for something on the web is consulting dozens of sites, while in this case you will be able to discover really significant content with our service.
Finally learning. Normally sources are quite vague in the typologies offered and don't support serendipity. The essential aspect for us is to learn constantly from the user actions, which are his interests, in order to provide an increasingly important selection.
The extremely difficult thing is to offer relevant content, as it requires very complex technology.
How much technological development is important for your team?
Our hallmark is focused on technology, which means for the user an easier and more relevant experience, as we do the job of filtering and content research. We use the most sophisticated technology that you can find at the moment, so our experience want to be more "passive" compared to other news reader existing today .
While other programs offer content only from sources you select, we give more importance to the learning process. We ask you quickly what your interests are at a high level, and then we keep learning directly from you.
We are doing what Pandora does in the world of music, as we show you the most relevant things based on your interaction.
Social networks are obviously important as well. Theneeds performs a sophisticated analysis of your activity and stream on Facebook and Twitter to understand more about the person.
You have just launched the application on iOS for iPhone, what is the next step?
In addition to continue working on the perfection of the product both on web and application, the next step will be the launch on the Android market. We keep working on the technology because for us it is the core, the aspect where we focus the most.
Despite our sources of information are all in English, the expansion on European markets such as the Italian is a future project for the medium-term.
San Francisco is the perfect place to develop this kind of business, so the challenge is to work even harder in order to achieve our ambitious goals.