We recently had the chance to chat with the founders of Gevva — a new kind of search engine that gives searchers the immediate answer they are looking for rather than providing links to web services.
Here’s the kicker…Gevva is the creation of 3 high schoolers — Stan, Sahil and Cavan. Read their story below and be inspired by them!
Tell me a little bit about the inspiration to create this search engine
We’re young enough that Google has dominated the search engine market for the totality of our conscious memory. Anyone who has even remotely followed the flow of the internet over the last ten years can attest to its fluidity and rapid change cycle. Given this, the consistently uninspired linear progression of Google, in search, is puzzling, and by definition has inefficiencies that largely stem from not adapting to new use cases. We started Gevva with the idea of a command-line for the web, where a user could interact with web services directly through a single text command. While this idea of expedient interaction with web services is still alive in the Gevva core, we realized that this functionality should be logically, and practically, part of the search experience, which led us to the most recent iteration of Gevva, the search engine with a focus on getting users to the services they want with as few decisions, clicks, and frustration as technically possible. (Sahil)
What inspires you to create change in a space largely controlled by Google/Bing/Yahoo?
It’s difficult, perhaps even impossible, to challenge big players in what they do best, especially in the internet paradigm of today where search sits at the core of the internet experience. Thus our challenge to these search giants lies not in finding a better search algorithm, or improving e return speed, but rather in addressing the verticals we feel they have outright neglected, particularly interaction with common web services. If a user enters ‘convert doc to pdf’ into Google, the experience of choosing from a list of potentially unhelpful links is just as tedious and time-consuming as it always has been, and that sort of stagnancy is confusing and disappointing but simultaneously inspiring for young entrepreneurs with nothing to lose and a background in programming that allows us to crank out prototypes without outside help. (Sahil)
What is it like to be such young entrepreneurs?
Being a young entrepreneur is fantastic. The startup world is the only sector where youth is celebrated instead of looked down upon. Entrepreneurs are a tight-knit community with a sense of community like none other. We’d never receive all of the trust, advice, support, and respect we’ve been getting if we were getting started in a field like medicine. (Cavan)
Who do you look up to? Who are your mentors?
As someone who spends his time dreaming up ideas for startups, with admittedly inconsistent quality, the biggest potential pitfall I see for young entrepreneurs is a primary focus on making money, without regard to social impact. This goes in two directions. First, it often feels as if startup ideas these days lack the “Without regard to monetary gain, would I want to live in a world where this exists?” Second, though niche markets often provide means of quick profit, startups that focus on this strategy occasionally fall into the category of ‘altogether unimportant.’ Is it really worth it to make a Tinder for fisherman, or an Instagram for tree-lovers? Elon Musk, with his focus on positive social impact as a form of idea validation, and his assessment of the “three problems that are most fundamental to the progression of humanity”, makes him hard not to look up to. (Sahil)
I look up to a lot of people. Two being my dad and Travis Kalanick, the CEO of Uber. They both set their mind on a goal and won’t stop until they accomplish it, overcoming a lot of inertia on the way. This is a quality that’s important for Gevva’s success and one I try and emulate. (Cavan)
Bill Gates has been an inspiration to me (and undoubtedly, to many other people) since I was a child. Not only did he build from the ground up the arguably largest player during the last twenty years in personal computing, he has put his wealth and knowledge towards solving humanity’s larger problems. I would like to someday be able to even have a fraction of the impact he and many others in the realm of technology and entrepreneurship have had on the world.(Stan)
Our mentors, to whom we owe a huge thanks for providing us the invaluable guidance and support that has gotten us this far, are Adam Parrish, the founder of NeoSavvy, a tech consulting firm, and Vimal Bhalodia, the CTO of People.co. (Stan)
What are your aspirations for Gevva? What are your personal aspirations? Are you going to college? If so, to pursue what?
Our aspirations for Gevva are to build something that fundamentally changes the way people navigate and interact with the internet. The current way doesn’t mesh with what users are actually trying to accomplish and we need to fix that.”(Cavan)
On the whole, I aspire to have a social impact that disrupts a fundamental system. I believe Gevva has the opportunity to revolutionize the way we interact with the core and most common functionality of the internet, and its success will dictate my personal plan for the future. (Sahil)
I’m just aiming to live a happy, balanced, and successful life. I’m definitely planning on going to college, probably to pursue economics and computer science. (Cavan)
I am very interested in exploring the world of software engineering and computer science, the field I would most likely pursue when I go to college.(Stan)
What about your personal/education backgrounds makes you well suited to be entrepreneurs?
As a virtue of the age we live in and the blindly accessible nature of technology education, I, as a child with access to the internet and a desire to explore my ideas, was able to explore the depths of programming and product development to my own mental capacity, and not an amount dictated by an existing educational establishment. This landscape, paired with my father’s background in technology and experience with self-started entrepreneurship, gave me the ability and support to pursue my own dreams. (Sahil)
I’m lucky enough to go to a fantastic high school in New York that has a great computer science program. This, in addition to a lot of self-teaching, has given me the technical abilities to build something like Gevva.
Both my parents are incredibly hard-working and motivated people and most of my work-ethic and drive, two incredibly important traits for entrepreneurs, comes from them.(Cavan)
Out of the three of us, I am definitely on the technical side of the story much more often than the entrepreneurial. However, having that sort of distribution of knowledge has been incredibly useful, making the team as a whole much more efficient by focusing our individual talents on the most relevant areas. I became interested in computers and technology during the fifth or sixth grade, originally because I wanted to make a game like the many Flash games I wasted much of my elementary school afternoons on. I spent much of middle school poring over many online tutorials and building little side projects. I have been hooked on software engineering ever since, and it is something I find genuinely enjoyable. (Stan)
What is one sentence that inspires you?
“Ideas are far more often killed by doubt than failure.” (Sahil)
“Nec Aspera Terrent”, which roughly translates to difficulties be damned. (Cavan)
Well begun is half done. (Stan)
What is one piece of advice you would give others looking to create their own business, product, etc.?
Though a viable business model is essential to long term survival, in a world where entrepreneurship and social service are simultaneously encouraged and respected, the core question I ask myself when validating an idea, and moreso evaluating it’s worth in terms of time and effort, is “How, and how much, could it impact the world?” (Sahil)
Go for it. Worst case, you learn a lot. (Cavan)
Being passionate and getting excited about the idea behind the product or business is probably the most important thing to have when the end result is still developing. Instead of looking at the prototype and saying “This will never work,” it is a lot easier to work on something you are enthusiastic about. Even if it does not work out in the end, the whole experience is a learning opportunity for the future. (Stan)