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November 15, 2019
Commerce

Meet the Adelaide tech team who’ve built a search engine that actually listens

Despite several blows, including the dot-com bubble burst of 2000, Adelaide-based company YourAmigo has built a significant business in the United States and marks 20 years in business with potentially their greatest innovation yet.

  • Words: Andrew Spence
  • Pictures: Kate Bowman

YourAmigo was incorporated in September 1999 after acquiring some unique search engine technology developed in Adelaide by Flinders University researcher Professor David Powers.

Initial plans for the company were to use the Flinders University technology to take on Google and Yahoo in the internet search space.

Remarks

Find out more about Your Amigo via their website.

“The early thoughts were ‘Let’s take on the world,’” says YourAmigo CEO Rahmon Coupe, “but the dot-com bubble burst in March 2000 and the change for us was that our ability to raise capital was just gone, particularly in Adelaide but even in Silicon Valley for a period of time.”

A year after the dot-com bubble burst, September 11 terrorist attacks halted another round of investment in the Adelaide startup, forcing Rahmon and his team to pivot. 

“We decided to take this novel search engine and rather than use it to search the entire internet and do things that cost an enormous amount of money to establish, we would direct it towards searching within an enterprise’s website or the internal intranet of a company,” he says.

The software was sold to a variety of companies in the United States and the United Kingdom, including the Honolulu Police Department, publisher McGraw Hill, the Chicago Tribune and European defence company Thales.

The technology created by YourAmigo proved a turning point for the company, sparking increases in revenue by 100 per cent a year for almost a decade from 2004. The technology also resulted in YourAmigo being named the South Australian Exporter of the Year in 2008.

And this year YourAmigo launched an entirely new way to search online – YourAnswer.

YourAnswer’s patented technology combines natural language processing with machine learning, image recognition and a suite of algorithms to produce a website specific experience that can be tailored to reflect a company’s brand personality.

In April, YourAnswer’s voice shopping experience system won ‘Most Exciting Tech Award’ at the annual Worldwide Business Research presentations in California and is currently signing up websites as fast as it can to customise its software to suit them.

A team meeting to review the search aesthetic and functionality

 

Rahmon says YourAnswer involves three key functions: a website that allows visitors to use voice to get what they are looking for in a seamless way, an artificial intelligence system that actually understands what they say rather than just returning word search results, and a dynamic display that shows requested items in a more user-friendly way on mobile devices.

“We’re very excited because we do believe that this has the potential to have a massive impact on how the internet is used,” he says.

YourAnswer launched its software in February and has already customised its technology with several client websites including American plus-size women’s clothing company and lifestyle brand, Ashley Stewart.

Rahmon Coupe

In just three months the voice shopping technology has achieved quantum leaps in mobile website performance, with users staying on participating websites more than two times longer, viewing 50 per cent more pages, and converting 190 per cent higher compared to other visitors on the site.

Rahmon, one of three co-founders and the original CEO, says there is now a “huge pipeline” of companies looking to adopt the technology on their ecommerce websites.

“We’re getting people spending more when they’re on a website and we’re getting the people who use the YourAnswer system on a website converting at a far higher rate than those who didn’t go into the experience,” he says.

Rahmon says although YourAmigo has enjoyed considerable success over the past 20 years, YourAnswer has the potential to overtake its annual revenue. Growth does have its limits though.

“Historically we’ve sold into websites in 32 different countries with YourAmigo, including in foreign languages. 

“YourAnswer isn’t quite ready for foreign languages just yet – it’s enough of a challenge in English – but I wouldn’t rule it out one day.”

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