SOURCE: iCoolhunt


March 12, 2013 08:00 ET

iCoolhunt's Quest to Engineer an Algorithm to Crack the "Code of Cool" Funded by Italy's Largest Bank

Social Scientists Team up With Data Scientists to Create a Community of "Cool Hunters" and Generate Trend Forecasts for Brands

PULA, ITALY--(Marketwire - Mar 12, 2013) -


  • iCoolhunt, a gamified photo-sharing platform for crowdsourcing trend spotting, announced today the launch of its new application, for Web and mobile (iOS), and seed funding in the amount of $670,000 (EUR 500,000) from VC firm, Atlante Ventures Mezzogiorno/IMI Fondi Chiusi SGR S.p.A. -- part of the largest bank in Italy, the INTESA SANPAOLO Group. The company is among the first social media startups to receive funding out of Italy.

  • iCoolhunt is the latest application to join the rising trend of games-with-a-purpose (GWAPs), which aim to solve large-scale problems, in this case: tracking emerging trends globally and in real-time. iCoolhunt is attempting to solve this problem by developing an algorithm, based on trend-spotting activities on the platform, that will crack the "code of cool."

  • Trend spotting is a $36 billion growth business, according to Outsell; with the seed funding, iCoolhunt plans to address this market opportunity by developing the backend of the platform and providing subscription-based trend forecasting reports, overlaying editorial commentary to the data analysis, starting later this year. In addition to trend forecasting reports, brands will soon be able to:
    • Access a dashboard that will display the evolution of trends in real-time
    • Commission projects where expert or locale-specific iCoolhunt players can participate in pay-by-task trend research activities and contests
    • Test design concepts on the iCoolhunt platform and measure initial reactions before pulling the trigger on manufacturing

  • iCoolhunt challenges the community of passionate and passive trend spotters to be part a citizen movement and relentlessly pursue a sense of wonder -- to be part of the creative process before a concept becomes "fashionable." Through the iCoolhunt platform, players (iCoolhunters) hunt down and upload photos (prey) from the Web and the real world. Other features of the application include:
    • Trendboxes: photo conversations where an iCoolhunter can upload a photo that other players respond to with similar photos to validate a trend through crowdsourcing
    • Badgest: players can unlock badges based on quantity and freshness of prey captured (from Rookie status to the ultimate Guru), Trendboxes created and followed (Trend Expert), and number of cool votes or not (King of Uncool)
    • Integration with: Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, Twitter (Web); Facebook and Twitter (iOS)
    • Immersive experiences: iCoolhunt is also looking to develop immersive features, such as geo-specific trend forecasts (like weather forecasts) that give people a sense for what is being considered cool in various locales that they live in or want to visit

  • Brothers, co-founders and co-CEOs of iCoolhunt, Luca and Alessio Morena, bring unique perspectives to the tech startup scene: Luca earned a doctorate in philosophy and Alessio was the founder of a Web design agency. They believe the future of technology startups combines the powers of data science with social science, which will create a demand for experts in the humanities. In addition to developers, iCoolhunt's team also includes a digital ethnographer and writers.


  • "Creativity is like lightning -- it can hit anywhere, anytime. We want to track that spontaneous insight on a global scale with iCoolhunt to prove that there is a universal code for what humanity interprets as 'cool' or intriguing. And now, with the invention of smartphone cameras, we can extend trend spotting beyond the traditional academic realm and empower citizens of the world to tell each other what the future looks like. With iCoolhunt, we've combined collective human intuition and a sense of wonder with data crunching to create the next generation of trend-forecasting tools." -- Luca Morena, co-CEO and co-founder of iCoolhunt

  • "It's an exciting time to be part of the nascent startup scene in Italy and we're fortunate to have found a great funding partner in Atlante Ventures Mezzogiorno/IMI Fondi Chiusi SGR S.p.A. We look forward to using the funds to execute on our revenue model: to provide brands with valuable real-time insights into trending concepts and ways to engage with the trend-spotting community." -- Luca Morena, co-CEO and co-founder of iCoolhunt

  • "People are trend spotting everyday across various social media platforms -- we wanted to find a way to disconnect this activity from the context of their personal lives and aspirations and concentrate it to a single platform where people can be rewarded for their finds. We deliberately chose not to include nostalgic filters as a feature to keep users focused on the present and what the future could be." -- Alessio Morena, co-CEO and co-founder of iCoolhunt

  • "We believe iCoolhunt can provide the next generation of trend-forecasting services and fits our portfolio of high-growth and innovative companies at Atlante Ventures Mezzogiorno. The company's crowdsourced approach to collecting information about new ideas around the world addresses a huge market opportunity for brands facing this problem today. We truly admire what iCoolhunt's team has built over the last couple of years and look forward to be part of their continued success." -- Aurelio Mezzotero, investment director at Atlante Ventures Mezzogiorno

Please use this link to access iCoolHunt
iCoolhunt Twitter feed
iCoolhunt Facebook page
iCoolhunt screenshots

Please contact Kristine David for more information or to arrange an interview.

Originally launched as proof-of-concept in 2010, iCoolhunt was catapulted into the VC spotlight when its iOS app experienced 20,000 downloads in a single week. It is now one of an increasing number of startups to receive VC funding in Italy. The company was founded in 2012 by philosopher, Luca Morena, and designer, Alessio Morena; advisors include Ciro Cattuto (head of the data science lab at the ISI Foundation) and Rebecca Walker (award-winning author at the Huffington Post and author of Black Cool: One Thousand Streams of Blackness). iCoolhunt is based out of the Sardegna Ricerche incubator in Pula in Cagliari, Italy, with operations in Turin. For more information about iCoolhunt, please visit: