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How to Build a Profitable AI Search Engine: Strategies to Earn $30,000/Month

How an AI Search Engine Built for Developers Makes $30,000 a Month in Recurring Revenue

In this article, we’ll explore the remarkable journey of Dev with 2vs, an AI search engine designed specifically for developers. We’ll delve into how they validated their idea, scaled rapidly to hundreds of thousands of users, and differentiated themselves in a highly competitive market.

Before we dive into the journey, let’s take a closer look at the product itself. Dev is a next-generation AI search engine for developers, providing accurate and precise answers to coding questions. By clicking on one of the prompts, such as “Python encrypt and decrypt file,” Dev offers the exact answer along with a Python script demonstrating how to encrypt and decrypt files. The tool boasts a lightning-fast response time, making it an invaluable resource for developers.

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The Problem and Solution

The inspiration behind Dev stemmed from the limitations of popular chat tools like ChatGPT. While these tools can be helpful, they often generate errors and hallucinations, which can be frustrating for developers seeking reliable solutions. The founder of Dev recognized this problem and set out to create an AI search engine that could provide trustworthy, error-free answers and code snippets.

Validating the Idea

Before writing a single line of code, the founder took a crucial step: conducting 50 one-on-one Zoom interviews with developers from various backgrounds. These interviews allowed them to gain a deep understanding of the challenges and pain points faced by their target users.

Throughout the interviews, a common theme emerged. Developers expressed frustration with the inaccurate code snippets and explanations provided by generalist AI tools. They yearned for a reliable and focused alternative that could cater to their specific needs.

Building the MVP

Armed with valuable insights from the developer interviews, the founder and their team got to work on building Dev. The goal was to create an AI search engine that could deliver trustworthy, error-free answers to coding questions while generating clean, functional code snippets.

To ensure the most relevant and accurate results, Dev leverages retrieval augmented generation (RAG) and large language models under the hood. They also built their own specialized search indexes, spanning development-related websites, official documentation, and open-source repositories.

Launching Quickly

To validate the idea quickly, the team challenged themselves to build and launch a minimum viable product (MVP) within just one week. This tight timeframe pushed the founder to prioritize essential features and ship a functional version of the AI search engine swiftly.

The initial version of Dev was bare-bones but functional, focusing solely on solving the core problem of unreliable AI code generation and answers. After sharing the MVP with a small group of friends and colleagues, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Developers appreciated having an AI tool they could trust for their day-to-day coding needs, giving the founder the confidence to push forward.

Differentiating in a Crowded Market

Dev wasn’t the only generative search engine in the market. Competitors like Perplexity and had already established themselves. To stand out, the founder believed they needed to go above and beyond in serving developers.

While other tools relied on Google or Bing search results for up-to-date information, Dev took a different approach. They built a custom search index tailored specifically to development-related scenarios. In addition to integrating Google search, they crawled and indexed a vast array of developer websites, official documentation, and open-source repositories like GitHub.

This exclusive focus on developer resources allowed Dev to provide more relevant and accurate results for coding queries. By drawing upon a rich knowledge base of programming-specific information, the AI search engine could answer questions accurately and provide code snippets that developers could rely on.

Key Features

Dev introduced two key features that further differentiated it from its competitors:

  1. Agent Mode: For complex queries, Dev infers the user’s intent and selects from specialized agent types, such as code generation, explanation, debugging, optimization, or web searches. This enables the AI search engine to provide tailored solutions based on the specific needs of the developer.
  2. Clean, Focused UI: The founder prioritized a clutter-free and intuitive user interface, allowing developers to focus on their work without distractions. The clean design of Dev ensures that users can easily navigate and interact with the tool, enhancing their overall experience.

By combining the custom developer search index with these unique capabilities, Dev carved out a compelling value proposition as the go-to AI search engine for developers. This specialized approach set them apart from more general-purpose offerings and gave users a compelling reason to choose Dev over its competitors.

Finding Initial Traction

With an optimized MVP in hand, it was time for Dev to reach a larger audience. The founder shared the AI search engine with their existing Twitter following, which consisted mainly of Chinese developers or developers based in China.

The response exceeded their wildest expectations. Through word of mouth alone, Dev’s user base skyrocketed to over 500,000 users within just a few months. Developers across China were raving about the tool, and the user base continued to grow exponentially.

Overcoming Adversity

Just as Dev was hitting its stride, an unexpected setback occurred. The AI search engine was suddenly blocked by the Great Firewall, cutting off access to all users in mainland China. In an instant, their primary growth engine vanished, dealing a devastating blow to the company.

However, the founder refused to give up. They believed in the value of their product and recognized that developers outside of China faced similar challenges. With determination, they went back to the drawing board, adapting Dev for a global audience.

Starting from scratch, the founder rebuilt the user base one developer at a time. Slowly but surely, Dev began to gain traction in other markets, proving the universal appeal of their AI search engine.

Monetization and Growth

It wasn’t until March 2023 that Dev decided to monetize its user base. They launched a premium subscription plan, and in the first month alone, it generated an impressive $28,000 in revenue. The numbers continued to grow in the months that followed, validating the demand for their specialized AI search engine.

Today, Dev is helping developers across the world write better code faster. The AI search engine has become an indispensable tool for countless developers, and the company shows no signs of slowing down.

Key Takeaways and Insights

The founder of Dev shares several key takeaways and insights from their journey:

  1. Solve a Real, Painful Problem: Successful startups address genuine needs for their target users. By focusing on the specific challenges faced by developers, Dev was able to create an AI search engine that resonated with its audience.
  2. Validate the Idea Quickly with an MVP: Instead of striving for perfection right away, launch a bare-bones version of your product to test your assumptions. Dev’s rapid MVP development allowed them to gather valuable feedback and iterate quickly.
  3. Differentiate Your Offering in a Crowded Market: In a competitive landscape, it’s crucial to stand out through unique features and a laser focus on your target audience. Dev’s custom search index and specialized capabilities set them apart from general-purpose AI search engines.
  4. Leverage Word of Mouth: If you build something that people love, they’ll naturally share it with others. Dev’s rapid growth in China was fueled by the enthusiasm of developers who found value in the tool.
  5. Embrace Adversity: No startup journey is without its challenges. When faced with the loss of their primary user base, Dev adapted and persevered, expanding to a global audience and finding success in new markets.


The journey of Dev with 2vs is a testament to the power of solving real problems, validating ideas quickly, and differentiating in a crowded market. By staying laser-focused on the needs of developers and continuously improving their AI search engine, the founder and their team have built a product that resonates deeply with its users.

As the founder emphasizes, adversity is an inevitable part of any startup journey. The key is to remain adaptable, persistent, and committed to delivering value to your target audience. With their unwavering dedication and innovative approach, Dev has emerged as a leading AI search engine for developers worldwide.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best AI search engine?

While there are several AI-powered search engines available, the best one depends on your specific needs and preferences. Some popular AI search engines include:

  • Google: Google uses AI and machine learning to enhance its search results and provide more relevant information to users.
  • Bing: Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, also incorporates AI to improve search results and offer intelligent features.
  • Dev with 2vs: Designed specifically for developers, Dev with 2vs is an AI search engine that provides accurate and reliable answers to coding questions, along with functional code snippets.

Ultimately, the best AI search engine for you will depend on factors such as the type of information you’re seeking, the accuracy of the results, and the user experience.

Is AI used in search engines?

Yes, AI is widely used in modern search engines to enhance the quality and relevance of search results. Many search engines, including Google and Bing, leverage AI and machine learning algorithms to understand user queries better, rank pages more accurately, and provide personalized results.

AI search engines can analyze vast amounts of data, identify patterns, and learn from user interactions to continuously improve their performance. They can also understand the context and intent behind search queries, allowing them to deliver more precise and helpful results to users.

What is Google’s AI search engine?

Google itself is an AI-powered search engine. While Google doesn’t have a separate AI search engine, it heavily integrates AI and machine learning technologies into its core search functionality.

Some of the AI-driven features in Google Search include:

  • RankBrain: An AI system that helps Google understand complex search queries and provide more relevant results.
  • BERT: A deep learning algorithm that enables Google to comprehend the context and meaning of words in search queries, improving the accuracy of search results.
  • Neural Matching: An AI technique that helps Google identify similarities between search queries and web pages, even when they don’t contain exact keyword matches.

These AI technologies work together to enhance the quality and usefulness of Google’s search results, making it one of the most advanced AI search engines available.

While AI is becoming increasingly sophisticated and powerful, it’s unlikely to completely replace Google search in the near future. Google is already heavily invested in AI and continuously integrates AI technologies into its search engine to improve results and user experience.

However, the rise of specialized AI search engines like Dev with 2vs demonstrates that there is room for innovation and differentiation in the search market. These focused AI tools can cater to specific niches or user needs, offering tailored results that may be more relevant and accurate than general-purpose search engines.

As AI continues to advance, we can expect to see more collaboration and integration between AI and traditional search engines like Google. Rather than replacing Google search entirely, AI is likely to complement and enhance it, enabling even more intelligent and personalized search experiences for users.

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