Think about how many times a day you use Google. Any time you want to look up a new recipe for dinner, or check for the hundredth time if you should be using there, their, or they’re in the paper you’re writing, you always end up with the same conclusion to just “google it.” I sometimes believe in the phrase
Since everyone takes the same course of action for any question they might have, Google makes billions of dollars off advertising. Normally that would just be called becoming successful, but what if another site provided the same service, but donated all the money they made to help the world. Now that success could be shared with the world.
Benelab is a student startup that does just that.
A Genuine Creator
So who is the creator of this startup that takes a billion dollar idea and tweaks it for good? That would be none other than Jack Kim, a student that used his skills from a high school web design class to create the non profit search engine. He even gives an honest and relatable reason why he started it as he explains, “The reason for the nonprofit was that I really didn’t care much about making money – I mean, I didn’t have to feed myself, and experience was the only thing to gain.“ Alongside Kim is a small team of 10 of his classmates, each of which he lured into the project by saying “you know it really wouldn’t hurt to say in your college apps that you helped found a nonprofit web startup in high school.“ I think something about that statement really hit home with the potential teammates and thus Benelab was born.
Minimal Effort Required
Why does this idea have such great potential? “Benelab generates funds while we do something we all do each and every day: search.“ It barely requires you to go out of your way to make an impact in the world. Everybody takes the time to do a simple search whenever they don’t know the answer to something, so why not just bring that act to a different site. This way you put in no extra effort, but if many people make the switch all the money made will be reinvested in our world.
Starting Off Small with Room to Grow
While this may be the first you’ve heard of Benelab, users have already flocked to it and have shown how powerful this tool can be. In the month of May, the Benelab team took to their blog to show how much of a profit was made, and where they decided to donate the money that month. For that month they choose the Ronald McDonald House, and were able to donate $330.
And in June they raised $400 to purchase and send 20 hand-powered LED lanterns to Peru.
(Images from here)
Although that is not nearly as much as what Google makes in a month, it is a start. They were able to help out some great causes and will only continue to grow and donate.
Room to Improve
You may be thinking, “if this invention is so great then why is everyone not already using it”? Well, I always thought the idea was great, but during the time I took to test out Benelab I did notice a few shortcomings. Some of these weaknesses stem from that fact that Benelab uses Bing’s API instead of Google’s API. Now, people already use Google over Bing because they like it better, so a new product that builds off the lesser of the two is not an easy sell. This search engine is not as lightening fast as Google, as I found it takes about 2 seconds to complete a search on Benelab as apposed to .36 seconds on Google. Now after researching the benefits that Benelab can bring to our world, I think that is a small price to pay.
Why You Should Still Give Benelab a Chance
The technicalities of each search engine will very likely improve as time goes on, but what they stand for will remain the same. I believe that Benelab can grow and compete with the “big dogs” because if more people become aware of their site and what it stands for, they will want to make the change. If you are willing to make the change, change your homepage to Benelab and continue to search away.