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On Friday, Engineering juniors Pratham Mittal and Archit Budhraja will compete in the global round of a startup competition in Hsinchu City, Taiwan.

They will present “Newsance” — a website they created that aggregates news and social media — to judges in Asia via a virtual submission.

This project was developed over “Startup Weekend” during the second week of November this year. Their product won first place. In addition to winning $1,500, the team caught the eyes of Facebook, Mashery and Bing, earning an Application Programming Interface award from each company. The team also captured the attention of a software engineer from Google and was given packages to launch its product, including a blog.

The two-day hackathon hosted 49 teams from universities across the East Coast. The competition at Princeton University, sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation, also hosted a group of tech-savvy professionals to act as mentors and judges for the participating teams. Mentors and judges came from top tech companies like Yahoo!, Microsoft and Tumblr.

That Friday, teams were expected to conceive of an idea and develop a prototype of the possible project. By Sunday, each team was expected to present the beginnings of a company with a fully-formed product.

While Mittal and Budhraja were initially unsure what their exact project would be, they went into the competition with a vague idea of what they wanted to create.

“I wasn’t too sure about the type of product I wanted to make. When I went in, I didn’t have a good idea, but I had a basic frame in mind,” Mittal said.

The basic frame that Mittal had in mind was the umbrella of social media. From there, the team decided to create Newsance.

After each team created a product proposal, they were asked to pitch their ideas in under a minute to the entire group.

In their pitch, the team described Newsance as an “interactive space for you to follow news and opinions around the world. It is not like your traditional news website; will allow you to go beyond reading lengthy news articles, commenting on them, and posting them on walls. will let you engage actively with your community in exploring the events around you. With all that we have planned, it will let you become a part of the news itself.”

After pitching their ideas, teams were allowed 15 minutes to mingle with other individuals in the room in hopes of formulating a more expansive team. At the end of the 15 minutes, Mittal and Budhraja had assembled a team of nine people, including five students from Princeton and a professional developer from Philadelphia.

After a weekend of work, the team found that their project took on a more serious tone. Now, in cases where natural disasters or bombings might happen in an area, Newsance would notify its user about which friends could be located around the same area of the accident.

Mittal still acknowledges that there are improvements to be made on the project, and the team is looking for possible developers from Penn to continue development.

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