Locu, a data-focused startup launched from Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s lab at MIT has raised a $4 Million Series A round of venture capital led by General Catalyst Partners, with participation from Chris Sacca’s Lowercase Capital, Lightbank and SV Angel. Locu’s existing angel investors, including Naval Ravikant and Babak Nivi of AngelPool, Quotidian Ventures, and Matt Ocko of Data Collective, also participated in the round. Larry Bohn, partner at General Catalyst, will be joining Locu’s board.
Locu’s mission is to structure the world’s information, says the company. Locu is particularly focused on large, distributed, and complex data sets that previously could only be tackled with costly and hard-to-scale manual labor.
Locu’s patent-pending approach features an elastic hierarchy of crowd workers and advanced machine learning, developed by a 10-person engineering team composed of MIT computer science researchers who have worked on data-related projects at companies including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Bloomberg and ITA Software. While virtual work marketplaces like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk are geared towards micro tasks, Locu is building infrastructure to train and manage crowd workers to generate more complex structured data sets at scale.
Concentrating first on the local data space, Locu spent the last year creating a real-time, structured repository of small business offerings data. The company has already processed hundreds of thousands of semantically annotated merchant price lists, such as restaurant menus, and has been licensing its data to big web players and small developers that want to tap into more relevant local data. While the majority of its data is currently for the US, Locu also has data for the UK, Canada and is adding other international markets.
With the proceeds from this funding, Locu is planning to scale its team, technology and customer base.
Locu is a venture-backed technology company with offices in Cambridge, MA and San Francisco, CA.