Deepika Singh from Alore spoke to solopreneur Kyle Duck, Founder, creator and CEO of Alli AI
Alore: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your professional journey so far?
Kyle Duck: I’m the founder of Alli AI which is the world’s first AI for SEO. I’m American and split my time between Amsterdam and Tennessee.
The first few years of my career were lean. I snuck on more than one train to get to business meetings because I couldn’t afford a ticket. Of course, the struggle just makes you appreciate the good times.
Since then, my work has been a mix of corporate consulting and entrepreneurial projects. It’s on a very similar arch to Ryan Buckley’s “Parallel Entrepreneurship” concept. Ryan is the founder of toofr.com and is writing a book about it.
Now that Alli AI is launched and has traction, I’ve dropped the consulting.
Alore: What is Alli AI and what’s unique about it?
Kyle Duck: Alli AI is an “AI” for search engine optimization. As a business, it falls under the SAAS category.
Every business today aims for more search engine traffic. As a business, trying to sort out the endless and contradictory blogs, videos, tools and cryptic statements from Google can make any marketer’s head spin!
Alli AI simplifies this. You just add your website and search keywords, then she tells you what to do to get more traffic.
Basically, it’s all the stuff I would do for a client — site optimization checklists, content analysis, link finding — tailored for each client and packaged into a pretty UI. The first iteration of Alli AI was a Slack chatbot I set up for my own use.
I picked the name because it had “AI” in it. Plus, I wanted to humanize the tool, so it would feel like you were interacting with someone on the other end. That human touch is a big part of what Alli AI has become.
Alore: How did you envision Alli AI?
Kyle Duck: Alli AI grew organically from my consulting business. I had a lot of clients and wanted to build a system to better manage them all. My vision was I would log on every day and the system would tell me “Do this for ABC site” and “Do that for XYZ site”.
Just to make my life easier! Eventually I realized this would be valuable for others as well.
Alore: Alli AI uses AI to scour the internet to find relevant high domain authority links to attempt linking to so what’s your tech stack? (AI/ML languages, tech tools etc)
Kyle Duck: Ruby on Rails, Heroku and lots of cron jobs.
Though unconventional for AI/ML, Ruby has solid gems for most of the algorithms. More importantly, I already knew Ruby and enjoy coding in it. For my B2B/B2E business, processing speed isn’t (yet?) a huge concern.
If performance ever becomes an issue, I’ll hire someone to port my algorithms to Python or Java or something that solves my need. Shipping fast and shipping first is most important.
Alore: Alli AI is using technology as its foundation and interestingly you’re a one-person SaaS (so far?). What’s the journey been and when do you plan to expand your team?
Kyle Duck: I was actually about to hire someone to help with customer support last week.
Then I went through my Intercom chats. I realized that most of the support issues come from trial users that don’t convert. You rarely hear from your happiest, most profitable customers.
So, instead of hiring someone, I decided to ignore the mosquitoes. I’ll still keep the line open for my best customers.
One change I am making is porting the Rails back end of Alli AI to Bullet Train. Bullet Train is a “SAAS-in-a-box” and comes pre-built with a lot of the code you have to reuse for every app (teams, users, logins, tests, etc.). This will free up some of my brain cycles to focus on the product and marketing. So, in a way I am expanding, just via another SAAS!
Alore: What has been the biggest challenge in your journey with Alli AI so far?
Kyle Duck: All of the challenges are equal in a way. I’m always trying to improve Alli AI — either adding features, improving the UI, marketing, whatever. Every mini-project is a struggle in its own right.
One thing, and this is a bit ironic, tech wise the hard things are easy and the easy things are hard.
Something seemingly silly and small like validating URLs ends up being way more complicated than, say, a decision tree for the AI.
Alore: What has been your biggest learning since you started Alli AI?
Kyle Duck: It’s easy to sell great products. Going overboard with “sales tactics” can even backfire. Also, it’s best to show your product and its benefits VISUALLY rather than via text.
Show, don’t tell.
Alore: What were/are your three key focus areas to achieve a good product market fit?
Kyle Duck: I use Alli AI myself, so that always gives me ideas for adding features or making improvements. Also, I’ve gotten some great ideas from my customers that I’ve also added to Alli AI.
Alore: How did you go about promoting Alli AI in the nascent stages?
Kyle Duck: Facebook ads!
I’ve also done some blogging on IndieHackers and in Facebook SAAS groups, but most of my revenue comes from ads.
Alore: What is your productivity mantra? (How do you maximize your day? – Any apps, tools, planning tips you use and would share/recommend?)
Kyle Duck: “Early to bed. Early to rise. Work like hell. Advertise.” is my mantra. It’s a quote from Wernher von Braun, who was a German rocket scientist and later worked for NASA.
I organize my day based on that quote. “Work like hell” for me means working on the product. “Advertise” means spreading the word in some way. For example, today’s “Advertise” task is this interview!
Not all productivity is created equal. My focus is on being effective. No apps or tools. I use a pocket calendar to plan my day and write my thoughts on paper.
So much of our work is with abstractions. It’s important for your memory and creativity to bring that work off the screen and into the physical world as much as possible. Also, I try to ship something new every day. That can be a feature, an UI update, a blog post or a new ad campaign.
About Kyle Duck:
Kyle Duck is the founder of Alli AI for SEO. Before founding Alli AI, Kyle has been a SEO consultant for companies like Staples, Expedia and Viacom. He has an interest in languages and speaks Dutch, Russian and Spanish besides his native tongue English. He is an alumnus of University of Amsterdam and Rhodes College.
You can reach Kyle here