With Benelab, the power of search can help people in need. Founded by Jack Kim, a current high school junior, Benelab is a nonprofit search engine that makes money off search targeted advertisements—just like Google or Bing—but donates the proceeds to a team-selected charity each month.
“Benelab is a crowdsource effort that showcases the idea of micro-philanthropy, meaning a lot of people doing little, everyday tasks add up to a lot,” said Kim, who is also Benelab’s CEO. Benelab is powered by Yahoo and operates on a revenue-share model for the advertisements.
Kim discovered his love for web design after taking a class in ninth grade. From there, he realized he could make money online in this manner. One of his most successful projects was Twiloogle.com, a Twilight-themed Google. After attending a summer business camp at Stanford University, Kim learned how to start his own company.
“I decided to go with a nonprofit because I love helping other people in need,” Kim said. “When I started Benelab, I wanted one of the core ideas that set it apart from others to be donating to one cause per month.” Other existing charity search engines, he said, tended to donate to too many causes, which resulted in far smaller sums actually being given. “Benelab’s one-cause-per-month feature allows us to donate the entire pool users have helped raise to one charity, guaranteeing bigger impact. Plus, we have specific goals each month related to the cause.”
The entire Benelab team, as can be seen from their website, are all young and still in high school. Last month, Jack Kim's team set out to provide five hearing aids to hearing-impaired children in a third world country. Charities are currently picked by the Benelab team, but they are moving towards polling users in the future.
So far, Kim says that fundraising has been pretty steady. “We like to set high goals every month to always try harder, so we haven’t always been able to meet our goals, but we get pretty close most of the time,” he said. “We’re focusing heavily on increasing our user base,” he added. “We currently see around 1000 searches a day. We would like this number to be in the ten thousands within this year.”
Kim hopes to attend Stanford University, and he says that he will definitely bring Benelab with him. He hopes to improve Benelab with his team this coming summer, and then in college he hopes to start more businesses. “After college, I hope to pursue my passion I social entrepreneurship—creating new ways of making the world better.”
Below is a video from Vimeo explaining how Benelab works.
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