The vision to build a next-gen search engine was for results to be graphic, plain talking and truly helpful, says co-founder Angela Hoover.
Co-founders Angela Hoover, 25, and Jed White, 54
Investors VC investors: Y Combinator, K20 Fund, Goodwater Capital, Gaingels, BBQ Capital, Acacia Venture Capital Partners Angel investors: Nick Chan, Tim Trumper, David Gyngell, Peter Zavecz
Headquarters San Francisco, United States
Staff 10 and hiring
Market valuation Raised US$2.5 million on a valuation cap. Gearing up for the first priced round of funding later this year.
What’s your elevator pitch?
“Andi is a search engine for the next generation: visual, conversational and factually accurate. Instead of just links, Andi gives you answers, like chatting with a smart friend. The internet is full of wonderful information but it gets buried by ads and SEO spam. We wanted to reimagine search for the way that people like to consume information now, through direct answers and a visual feed.”
How did the idea come about?
“I spent my gap year in Australia when I was 18, working in construction because I wanted to be a civil engineer. I went travelling in Europe on my way home [to the United States} and I was doing a lot of Google searches and getting frustrated by the amount of ads. As a broke backpacker, if I’m trying to find the cheapest hostel or restaurant near me I actually want a high-quality result. I met Jed, who’s Australian with a startup background, at Denver airport – I heard his accent and we got talking about what a new search engine would look like.”
What was the problem you were trying to solve?
“Google came up with the PageRank algorithm and a lot of that was based on keywords. Andi is based on semantic search – it ranks content based on contextual evidence and elevates the most relevant and highest-quality sources, filtering low-quality content, with no ads. Our vision for Andi is to provide an assistant that uses generative AI to answer questions and automate tasks.”
How did you get it off the ground?
“I started studying a business major at the Community College of Denver and Jed and I kept in contact. He was a journo in a previous life but for 20 years he’s been building vertical search engines. By this time, he was living in Denver, working on another startup. Eight months [after we met], we’re talking and he says, ‘Hey, I’ve built the back end of Andi – I think we have something here.’ I started watching videos on YC Startup School, a free online course. Through that, we were accepted into Y Combinator [YC], an accelerator in the US.”
How did you convince investors?
“We came out of the three-month YC program and launched generative AI question answering in March 2022, months before ChatGPT was released. We had turned search from a bar with a list of blue links into a conversational assistant. The YC investment gave us credentials and from early on, we had a working product to show investors. Nick [Chan, now COO] and I worked together on the angel round of funding and we raised around US$500,000 – his backing gave Australian investors confidence to take the leap of faith. Since then we’ve worked our butts off. Our business model is ‘freemium’: free, anonymous search for everyone and paid pro accounts down the line.”
“Enterprise search is another part of the business model – there’s demand for natural language search. We’ve spoken to more than 30 companies that want to use Andi to search their own internal documents for staff or on the front end for users. We hope in the future that ‘Ask Andi’ is a phrase that’s as common as ‘Google it.’”
Image credit: Katie Thompson