Three high school friends develop tool for consumers to find the best deals on products during pandemic


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Three high school friends came together to develop PriceMerge, a tool to help consumers during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Archit Mehta, a senior at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North; Parth Harish, a junior at John P. Stevens High School; and Darshan Lakshminaryan, a junior at Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Technologies in Edison, launched PriceMerge in August.

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With the demand for necessary products during the coronavirus – face masks, hand sanitizer, soap and tissues – PriceMerge helps consumers compare prices of any product across thousands of websites and provides users with the best deals.

With PriceMerge, consumers can also indicate a price they feel comfortable purchasing the products. The consumers will then receive an email when the price of the products falls below their indicated value.

“For example, if the current best price for tissues is $10, and a user wants to buy them when they hit $5, they can indicate this on our website and they’ll receive an email with the link to the product when the product falls below $5,” Archit said.

Within the first week, the site saw more than 10,000 visitors, which Archit called “thrilling.”

“That meant my product was truly making a difference in the world and was helping others to save money during the pandemic, which plagues our nation today,” he said. “The response so far has also been overwhelming with many visitors letting us know that our product was a game changer for them, helping to save time, energy, and, most of all, money. These responses motivate me to continue working on the website even in the face of any difficulties I encounter, because they remind me how this product has the potential to completely revolutionize the living situations of many Americans who don’t have steady sources of income.”

Archit added that building PriceMerge has helped him realize the power of technology, while simultaneously motivating him to continue to help others in the world by using the technological skills he possesses in order to create change.

Parth said he found “designing the algorithm” as the “most satisfying aspect of developing PriceMerge.”

“After starting with one functionality, we reviewed feedback, built more attributes to the app, and optimized our methods,” he said. “My initial motive for PriceMerge was to give back to the community, but the learning opportunities this experience had to offer was what captivated my interest. The obstacles faced along the way were intriguing because I knew that the solutions existed, and that it was just a matter of research to find them.”

After various versions of PriceMerge were sent out for feedback and beta testing, Parth said the work did not come to an end.

“Marketing the application proved to be another complex process, but definitely one I had lots of fun in,” he said. “PriceMerge will not be one of those applications that is published and then never enhanced again. With time, comes new problems, ideas, and the need for new attributes.”

Darshan said aside from the goal of helping people, developing PriceMerge from scratch was a great learning experience for everyone. He said his involvement taught him “the ins and outs of front end web development.”

“On top of that, I was also able to learn a lot of PHP (programming), especially in the case of handling form inputs and scraping the web,” he said. “I’m really happy about all the problems we ran into along the way because all of them taught us valuable lessons. From basic programming etiquette to more complex inter-website libraries, working on PriceMerge has definitely made me a better programmer.”

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