Student-Run Search Engine Benefits Charity

King's junior Jack Kim, a budding Web entrepreneur, details his latest project, Benelab

Budding Web entrepreneur and CEO Jack Kim, a junior at King’s High School in Shoreline, dreams of going to Stanford and owning his own Silicon Valley company someday.

But right now he’s working on his second Web site, Benelab.org, a search engine powered by Microsoft’s Bing search engine that raises money for charity.

“You donate by using the site,” Kim said, describing it as a crowdsource-type platform.

Charity Water is the current charity for donations on the site and the goal is to raise $100 in December.

Kim decided to do a non-profit site because it would be easier to start and maintain than a for-profit business. His work on Benelab will also apply to the 40-hour community service graduation requirement at King’s.

“Our main focus is to get experience. Plus it’s fun for me,” he said.

This is the second site Kim has built; the first was a Twilight series-themed search engine, called Twiloogle.com. He decided to do Benelab after taking a  business course at Stanford University last summer.
Kim made a list of high school students with various areas of knowledge and recruited them to work on Benelab.

He hired Devin Caplow, a junior, to be his chief operating officer. Caplow’s stepdad is from Uganda, and his parents run a non-profit called Pilgrim Africa that helps child soldiers from the Ugandan Civil War.

Caplow’s grandmother provided $1,500 in seed funding for Benelab, $400 of which was used to buy a server.

Kim’s hired others to serve vice president of marketing, chief information officer, public relations officer, secretary and treasurer.  About 12 students at King’s are involved in the project.

Kim served an exhibitor at a tradeshow at the DECA Western Regional Leadership Conference in Los Angeles in November. DECA is marketing organization for high school students.

Caplow, who hopes to study mechanical engineering at MIT, said he the Benelab project is teaching him leadership skills and how to connect to people and organize them.

Benelab legally incorporated on July 29, 2011. Money is raised via click throughs to Google AdSense and are donated to various charities through July 2012. About a half-cent is raised for each search.

Kim’s goal is to get at least 500 users per day; he averages about 130 right now. He also hopes to tell his story in the media at least five times in the next few months.

The search engine rates music videos and how-to-videos higher in the results so users don’t have to scroll and click to find them. If you type in a song title, for example, a music video for it, if it exists, will show up in a window at the top.

Kim hopes to add online polls and other features soon. He also designed the graphics and look of the site.
















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