Loku is a local search site that promotes local discovery and highlights the quirks of each city. Loku recently released a mobile application that lets users discover what’s happening right around them like events, restaurants, news and tips as well as it lets users establish themselves as local experts for their cities. With the release of the app, Dan Street, CEO of Loku, has given us some more insight into the operations of Loku in this Q&A.
Why did you leave the investment firm of KKR to enter the startup world?
Prior to doing a startup, I worked at great firms like Bain, KKR, and Dell. I really liked my time at each of those places. But around 2007, I lost two grandparents who were really important to me, and thought about what I wanted to do in my life. I realized that one of my big goals was to use my career not just for me, but to leave something positive behind. Loku came out of that inspiration.
Why did you create Loku?
In particular, I chose local discovery because it meant something to me. For me, local grew out of a childhood ideal. I grew up in a lot of smaller towns and suburbs, where everybody knew each other, and you knew the local store owners. Sort of like Austin. As I grew my career, I ended up in urban places like NY or SF. I loved those cities, but felt like I lost something great about smaller towns. The purpose of Loku is to bring a smaller town feel to urban areas.
Loku had raised $1.68 million in angel and seed stage funding so far, do you plan to seek additional funding? If so, how much and when?
Yes, we’ll likely raise more money. We’re going after a big opportunity, with really tough technology. These kinds of businesses don’t come cheap.
How many people use Loku?
We don’t release numbers, I’m sorry. But it’s nearing 6 figures, and growing 50%+ each month.
Loku recently introduced its mobile app what has been the reaction to it?
People are really excited about our mobile app. We’ve seen great engagement stats, including 26+ flips and over 5 minutes per session. Although we have a long way to go, our ambitions are much higher, we’re excited to be where we are.
How does Loku make money?
At this point, our focus is on delivering the best experience for our users and attracting more folks to join our app — the app and community only get better with more people onboard. We have been successful with a number of revenue models but plan on focusing on users in the short-term.
Who are your competitors and how does Loku differentiate itself in the local search space?
Our idea, making discovering new things you’ll love on your cell phone a fun game, hasn’t really been done. There are a lot of people who might come close, but we don’t think anyone is a direct competitor at the moment.
Is Loku’s headquarters in San Francisco? What role does the Austin office play in the company?
We were started in Austin, and our heart is here. We recruit heavily from UT and Rice (my alma mater) and all but one of our employees went to school in Texas. At this point, having our exec team in SF is the right thing for our business. There is expertise in our space in the Bay Area that you can’t find anywhere else. At the same time, we’re committed to having dual HQ in Austin – it’s where we’re from.
How many employees does Loku have? Are you hiring?
We’ve got 14 people, which is a lucky number. At this point, we only take interns, and some of them end up with full-time offers. We do not hire outside of our intern program at the moment. As the app continues to take off, we will be adding folk in the next few months, but primarily through our internship program.
What are Loku’s plans for the future?
We really want to impact lots of people in a positive way. If we can make it fun, and cool, to be involved in your local community, we’ll all be very happy. To do that, we’ll need to launch native mobile apps, expand the cities we cover, and keep getting better every day.