Student Innovator Weaves Web of Success With $10,000 Prize-Winning People Search Engine
For many of us tax time means gritted teeth, slogging through forms, and juggling dozens of different tax rates. And afterward? Forget it until next April. Innovator Jonathan Weber, though, frustrated as anyone, decided to take action.
Just 18 and filing for the first time, Weber went toe to toe with state and federal tax regulations; and decided to help make the process easier for others in his situation. As a freshman, he created his first website – a free portal of easy-to-understand information on filing taxes.
Weber has worked his way from freelance web developer to business owner, and now boasts almost a quarter million visits to his websites every week. Now 21, and a double major in computer sciences/computer security at East Stroudsburg University, Weber finds himself on the cusp of taking some major strides in the business world.
A junior come this fall, Weber entered the Annual PASSHE [Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education] Business Plan Competition with a plan for a new web startup. He took first place, winning $10,000 to support business development, and a year’s office space in ESU’S Business Accelerator Program located in the ESU Innovation Center.
His new startup, e-Dentified People Search, is a powerful people search engine. Weber developed proprietary search algorithms that can create a full profile of an individual’s internet presence and internet identity by using a single piece of information about the individual — like an email, username, handle, etc. His algorithms link pieces of information until it finds the true identities behind an online persona. As with his tax site and all of the sites owned by him, the emphasis of Weber’s newest venture is to help educate others with practical information.
The $10,000 certainly helps, but what truly excites Weber is his office at the ESU Business Accelerator, and connecting with the CEOs and entrepreneurs he meets through it.
Before winning the PASSHE competition, Weber wasn’t aware of the Business Accelerator program at ESU. He feels that may be true of many others and he is passionate about getting the word out. “I know there are many other students who have ideas like me,” says Weber. “And the ESU Innovation Center and Business Accelerator program provide great opportunities for people in just about every field.”
Given his youth, energy and feel for what people want and need – as well as his new student interns and office in ESU’s Innovation Center, Weber will no doubt learn much and succeed often. “College is about far more than just classes,” said Weber. “The experiences and opportunities I’ve found at ESU go above and beyond anything I had expected.”