THE BLOG
06/30/2011 06:16 pm ET | Updated Aug 30, 2011

18-Year-Old Gets 100K To Improve Internet Searching

Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.

By: Robyn Gee

The Thiel Foundation, set up by PayPal president Peter Thiel, recently awarded the Twenty Under Twenty Awards to young science and technology visionaries. Each fellowship winner received $100,000 to divert from their college trajectories and turn their ideas into realities.

John Marbach was one of those winners. His project, Ingenic, aims to improve Internet searches by sifting out the useless bits, and only giving the user the "reliable" results. "I wanted to attack the consumption end of the web, and find reliable content online... Reliable in the sense that you get good quality, something you actually want to see," said Marbach.

He gave the example of a Spanish teacher looking for resources online. Marbach said, "There's a lot of research online that could enrich the learning experience - news articles, YouTube videos to teach pronunciation, and Flickr galleries of the culture. But the search process is very disjointed. A teacher could go onto Ingenic for a frictionless user experience," he said.

How would the curation process work? Marbach is in the process of figuring that out, but the idea is basically human curation. "We want to incentivize people to curate a collection of content. Some person would do all the searching and add all the links to the Ingenic platform, then they could share it and other people could follow it. There's definitely community behind it. Any start-up needs to have a social component," he added.

Making the decision to forego college was not hard for Marbach. "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Even if I went to college, I would still start this company afterward," he said. "I feel like I have all the pieces lined up to make it a success. If I'm going to drop out of school and start a company now's the time."

The Thiel Foundation allows the winners to begin their fellowship any time during the year of 2011. Marbach will take advantage of that, and gain a semester's worth of college experience at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, where he will take computer science classes. He will officially begin the fellowship in December 2011, but hopes to release a prototype of Ingenic this summer.

Check out stories on a few other winners here and here.

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