What happens when someone gets fed up with ads and SEO spam in search? They start a search engine.
At least Angela Hoover did. She founded San Francisco-based Andi Search in September 2021 after taking a backpacking trip through Europe, where she was frustrated with poor search results whenever she queried something.
Now the entrepreneur wants to turn the generative artificial intelligence (GAI) engine into a smart assistant, which sounds something like the voice-activated Google Assistant that can call and make reservations at a restaurant.
Hoover’s transition into technology began with summer jobs in the Colorado forest. As a teenager she wanted to become a park ranger, but just out of high school she discovered a love for construction and civil engineering, until she became a site coordinator at an Australian Microsoft data facility while working as a general laborer in construction.
“Once I began to work more closely with Microsoft, I learned that working in technology and construction were all about creating new things,” she said. “I just like to build stuff.”
Hoover wants to use AI to automate daily tasks for users, and believes Google’s search model is out of balance with a focus on older generations.
“When you go on line and do a search on Google everything is cluttered,” she said. “Search results don’t match the way younger generations like Gen Z consume information.”
Gen Z and Gen X search on TikTok and Instagram because they are more visual and much more likely to search on social media, according to a recent report from performance agency Tinuiti. For example, Gen Z far outpace Boomers in identifying photos and videos as product detail page feature, they find most helpful when deciding whether or not to purchase CPG products.
The key is high-quality content. While Andi’s in-house trained AI models detect SEO spam, taking into consideration the proper use of canonicals, the company is looking to form a partnership with Credder -- a news review platform similar to Rotten Tomatoes for movie reviews -- to keep bias out of content.
Andi also offers summation and explanation features in its engine, which launched in February. Google introduced an update to its summary feature in August in Labs.
Google’s AI-powered search generative experience (SGE) could already summarize articles across the web, but it took the feature one step further to provide a summary after clicking on the link.
Hoover said there are about 400,000 monthly active users. The plan is to launch a subscription model with paid pro and enterprise search accounts.
When asked about other subscription models that have come and gone -- namely the privacy search engine Neeva, which shut down in 2023 -- Hoover said to have
users justified in paying for search, "you need to make search more than 100 times better. Ad free in the future is just a baseline, but not the end to justifying a subscription. We're still trying to
determine what will provide the most value."
Andi is now better at understanding concepts, Hoover said, with a goal to better highlight content. In July, the company launched a new semantic content engine, and updates its source attribution model to provide a better user experience, which doesn’t necessarily mean more regulation, she said.
“Regulation is a good thing, but something you can only hear the load voices in a room,” she said. “Too much regulation could benefit big tech more, rather than little tech.”