These three kids combined could become the next Mark Zuckerberg... and they're still in high school.
Last month, New York TechDay brought together 400 exhibitors and 10,000 attendees for a day full of demos, pitches and the opportunity to network with entrepreneurs who believe they have the next big thing.
Established companies, like Microsoft, Uber, Gilt and Yelp, were in attendance. The show floor was a sea of elaborate booths and free swag; exhibitors were doing anything to attract attention.
Amidst all the chaos, three young men manned a simple booth that consisted of a white tablecloth and a single laptop. By simply looking at them, you would never guess that the group was a trio of budding tech entrepreneurs.
Intrigued, we probed to find out more about what they were doing at TechDay... it turns out that the three are high school juniors at Horace Mann School in Riverdale, New York, just north of Manhattan.
The 17-year-old cofounders and classmates, Sahil Gupta, Stan Zhang and Cavan Klinsky have been tinkering with the web and coding since 5th grade. They were at TechDay to demo Gevva, a new search engine that will change how we find answers on the Internet, they said.
"We take the quickest headlines, best directions and best restaurants so users get exactly what they're looking for without having to click away," Klinsky said. "Gevva unifies all the functions into one easy to use and fast package."
Gevva was born out of a high school hackathon. It won the competition and netted the group $500. Instead of spending the cash on fun, the budding entrepreneurs spent it on the exhibitor fee to show at TechDay.
"Gevva isn't your traditional search engine, it's a 'do engine,'" Gupta said. Gevva gives users instant answers to queries directly inside the search engine. The search engines we're used to, like Google, connect users to another website that matches a query.
"The average Internet user has a routine of things they do each day on the web. For example, you use Google to look for directions, read the news or find a restaurant to eat at. The result you're looking for is spread over many sites and Google bridges the gap," Klinsky said. "But Gevva takes the quickest headlines, best directions, best restaurants and unifies your result into one easy to use and fast package."
The $500 investment to exhibit at TechDay paid off. While the search engine isn't nearly as advanced as Google, the fact that it was created during a hackathon by three high school students is impressive. We weren't the only attendees at TechDay to take notice of Gevva.
The Gevva cofounders have been in contact with potential investors, two Columbia grad students interested in interning for them this summer, and have an offer for free office space.
"TechDay gave us a sense of validation, which was mind-blowing. It left us with such a fulfilling feeling after many, many failed betas," Klinsky said.
Gupta, Zhang and Klinsky are what the new breed of entrepreneur looks like. They're young, ambitious and hardworking.
A product like Gevva wouldn't be possible without the prevalence of the Internet and the wealth of information available to anyone who has the time to learn a skill or trade. For these three, there won't be a corporate ladder to climb because they're already putting in the work to secure a successful future.
The trio didn't learn how to code in school; they're self-taught. They're also extremely humble and are grateful for the attention that their product is receiving. And, in case you were wondering, they aren't looking to cash out on their first offer.
"Money isn't a motive, our costs are low right now and we're more focused on getting a support system in place. We've been talking to startups that are willing to help us work there. That's what we're looking for above an investor base," Gupta said.
The teens envision Gevva expanding beyond a "do engine" and into a platform with extensions (like you'd find on Google Chrome) while continuing to gain traction and users.
The primary goal is to fix pain points on the Internet with Gevva. For example, you know how tedious it can be to maintain multiple social media accounts online... The teens hope to use Gevva as a platform that could one day help you create and manage a unified social media experience, quickly and easily.
"Next up is summer break, where we'll be working to build up feature sets for business professionals and power users," Zhang said. "Ultimately we hope to build up a feature set people that users would want to pay for."
While most kids their age are studying for final exams, thinking about what colleges to apply to and just hanging out, these three are figuring out how they can use their talents to make an impact on the world.
We often hear about what kids could be doing better and about all of their shortcomings, but there's good too and here's a perfect example.
It's a great feeling to know that our generation is doing amazing things that not only help the people around us, but also our society as a whole. We're looking forward to keeping an eye on the Gevva guys; we're sure this won't be the last we hear of them.
Photo Credit: Terence Thomas/Elite Daily