By Tanvi Bajaj
When you do a Google search, chances are that, you never even look past the first five listings. In fact, studies have shown that 67% of all clicks on search engine result pages go exclusively to the first five links; while 95% of average users don’t go beyond the first page.
In a time when SEO optimization and web search algorithms determine the popularity of brands and companies, producing tailored content to adhere to these ranking systems has never been more important.
This is where Altum comes in. The UC San Diego startup combines highly efficient artificial intelligence with human content writers to – as the company’s motto indicates – “provide high-quality SEO content to engage your users and drive organic growth.”
We sat down with David Park, Altum Co-Founder and CEO, to discuss his journey building a startup in San Diego’s growing tech ecosystem.
Year Founded: 2015
However, Altum’s signature product Jenni (the artificial intelligence) was just developed in September 2019.
Key Players: David Park (CEO & Co-Founder), Henry Mao (CTO & Co-Founder), Cassie (Zhisheng) Huang (Software Engineer), Justin Kim (UX Designer)
Headcount: Along with the core four, the team also has about 20 independent contractors as writers.
Headquarters: The Basement / Von Liebig Center at UCSD
Technology: Altum’s original plan, to create a text generation AI, ended up being scrapped due to the degraded quality of the articles it produced.
“We actually tried very hard to do text generation but after running tests, as of right now, the technology just isn’t there,” Park explained. Therefore, Park and his team turned their attention elsewhere: specifically, they built an AI system which evaluates the signals that Google uses to determine an article’s ranking (such as meta page description, keyword existence and variation, readability, etc).
How it Works: Altum’s AI-assisted content writer, Jenni, produces high quality articles saving customers half the time and money.
Customers come to Jenni with the specific keyword that they are targeting and want to rank for.
Jenni analyzes the current top ranking articles for that keyword and extracts key information: keyword density, keyword variations, content length, structure, and more.
Then that information is sent to a professional writer who is equipped with additional AI tools to help them address the market gap and deliver a “fresh” article that will outrank the competition.
When the article is complete, it’s sent a team of editors who use AI tools to check the readability, plagiarism score, and overall quality of the content.
In essence, “Jenni is an AI tool that gives writers the ability to focus their articles in a certain way,” Park explained.
Altum writers have the information necessary to produce content adhering to Google’s ranking algorithm, ensuring that the articles they give to their customers are optimized to appear at the top of every related web search.
To date, Altum has written and sold over half a million words with each article averaging 1,500 words- a total of over 300 articles. Each article ranges from categories like “online dog training courses” to “how to market during a pandemic.”
Customers: Some of Altum’s most prominent customers are Epidemic Marketing, Perth Marketing Company, Decoded Solutions LLC, and 100 Percent Organic SEO. Testimonials from the CEO of each describe Altum articles as well-researched, affordable, reliable, and overall very impressive.
Inspiration: At first, the startup was open to create any form of artificial intelligence-based platform, with one requirement: the use of natural language processing -a result of Park and Mao’s fascination with GTP2 (a text generation AI).
After surveys and discussion with many prospective users, the most repeated demand was for affordable, consistent, high-quality content.
Park believes that access to quality and affordable content is scarce: “We wanted to solve that and be a one-stop shop where you can always reliably get content,” he said about the motivation behind creating Jenni. “We wanted to create something that would provide value month after month.”
Challenges: “For me, one of the hardest challenges was when we were actually doing customer discovery. We had to do cold calling, which is so tough. Everyone is obviously so busy and you have to wedge your foot in the door. Getting the first momentum of finding the product market fit was a big challenge,” Park said.
Funding: Altum’s funding was a combination of a $10,000 angel investment and about $5,000 self-contributed by Park and Mao. Currently, the team is no longer looking for funding as Altum’s revenue is enough to sustain the company.
Mentors: To Park, an international business major,the biggest resource for his startup was the coworking spaces at the Basement at UCSD. “Being an entrepreneur can be really lonely, but these coworking spaces allow you to interact with other people who are doing the same thing. Seei
ng other people believe in their ideas the way you believe in yours, that’s a very valuable currency,” he said.
Logistically speaking, the team debuted Altum’s product at Triton Entrepreneur Night and cites Hem Suri as their most influential mentor.
On the Horizon: Over the next five years, Park hopes to break out from SEO writing and expand Jenni’s abilities to generate desirable content for all industries.
But in the long-term, Park and his team want to work towards the goal of making writing reports and documents a thing of the past- a world, “where I want to know market trends for coffee in San Diego and an AI can just write the report for me.”
San Diego Tech Ecosystem: According to Park, San Diego has a perfect blend of beautiful weather, enthusiastic bright young entrepreneurs, and a great tech ecosystem for anyone who wants to break into the scene. “If you have enough of a drive and you want something,” he said, “you will always get it.”
Let’s Taco ‘Bout Tacos: Tacos El Gordo on H Street takes the top spot for Park. After five years of living in San Diego, he cites it as the best place he’s been and a constant go-to whenever he wants to satisfy his taco cravings.
Keep up with Altum through their website Jenni.ai and LinkedIn.
Editor’s Note: TritonTech is an original series on UC San Diego created by Fresh Brewed Tech that showcases the innovative ideas born in the halls of academia that are making a great impact on our ecosystem and beyond.