[Startup Bharat] Dhanbad-based 13Tabs is working to make the internet a safer place for people

Dhanbad-based 13Tabs is a web search engine that has been designed to provide user privacy and prevent the spread of misinformation
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Isn’t it a little scary when we find search engines and social media accounts keeping tabs on what we are doing online?

Online privacy has become one of the biggest concerns as the internet penetrates deeper into India. Searches, clicks, interests, and personal data of internet users are all profiled and stored to make personalised advertisement suggestions, and this store can be vulnerable during data breaches and cybercrimes.  

Dhanbad-based Trylika Technologies is solving this problem with its web search engine 13Tabs, which takes care of user privacy and prevents the spread of fake news.

Founded in 2019 by brothers Sagar and Varun Mishra, 13Tabs is designed with privacy at the core of the product.

The search engine does not record the user’s private information and enables search neutrality. Its fact-checker tool also enables users to check any social media post or news to prevent the spread of misinformation.

“We built this product from scratch and its prototype was launched in December 2016. The prototype was accessed from 59 countries and has been used three million times during the testing phase. In the next few years we overcame tech difficulties, made the product stable, and added unique features such as fact-checking tools,” Sagar says.

The company was incorporated in 2019 and then incubated in NASSCOM 10000 Startups.

Illustration: YS Design

Protecting user privacy

According to the co-founder, 13Tabs was built to solve two main problems: internet privacy and the spread of fake news. 

He explains that users share a lot of information, including search history, website visits, location, preferences, likes-dislikes, medical condition, financial details, travel plans, and political affiliations among others, with search service providers while searching the web.

Search engineers collect this data and create a user behaviour profile, which is then used to target advertisements and also sold to third-party advertisers.  

According to the co-founder, search engines' web index contains almost all information present on the web, including fake news, but they do not provide a method to fact check any information available to them. Hence, they end up spreading misinformation.

“There are other privacy-enabled search engines such as DuckDuckGo and Startpage, but they are completely dependent on other search providers like Google, Bing, and Yandex. Our product is independent of other search providers,” Sagar says.

The co-founder also clarified that 13Tabs does not have a huge web index as compared to Google or Bing, and has to borrow results from them in case of certain queries. The 13Tabs search engine only shares the searched term with other search engines, but no other user information such as IP address, location, and device info, among others. 

Sagar also revealed that they began working on 13Tabs from Delhi, but eventually decided to move to their hometown Dhanbad to cut down on their personal living costs and invest it in building the product. 

According to the co-founder, search engine 13Tabs is designed with privacy at the core of the product. [Image Credit: 13Tabs]

Business and more

Sagar explains that the startup is yet to monetise its service, but it plans to operate on an advertisement-based revenue model. The startup is planning to offer custom search solutions, result syndication, and application subscriptions in the future. 

“We are not monetising the service and will not do so for the next few months. Our current focus is to expand the team and increase our user base,” he adds.

The search engine is getting most of its traffic from India, the US, Spain, Germany, France, Brazil, and South Africa. According to the co-founder, 13Tabs records around 25,000 organic searches and over 100,000 bot requests per month

The bootstrapped startup is looking to raise external investment to focus on user acquisition. It plans to offer 13TABS exclusive merchandise to users for creating brand awareness, educate people about internet privacy, and financially support the company’s expansion plans. 

According to the latest NCRB data, India had recorded 4,4546 cases of cybercrimes in 2019. According to media reports, India saw an 86 percent rise in cybercrimes cases amid the COVID-19 lockdown in early 2020.

Internet safety and online privacy is a major concern and needs to be addressed to make India a digital nation. Startups such as 13Tabs may help take a bigger step towards this goal.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai