Until last December, the 13-year old Shubam Banerjee living in California, US had no idea what Braille was. It was only after reading a fundraising flyer about the visually impaired that he started to wonder how blind people read.
As any other child would do, he asked his parents but was told by them to surf the net. When he Google searched, he was shocked to know the Braille was priced upward of $2,000. He felt that was unnecessarily expensive for someone already at a disadvantage. He used the LEGO model Mindstorms EV3 to design a different type of Braille printer that costs only $350. It took Banerjee three weeks to come up with the final design.
His father, Niloy Banerjee guided him throughout his project. Shubham used to complete all his school assignments and then work on the project. He was interested in bringing a low-cost Braille printer to the market. He found that Intel’s new chip Edison was a great fit for being connected to the cloud/internet. With Edison, he was able to program the automatic printing of CNN headlines every morning.
Inspired by his product and vision, Intel executive Mike Bell announced at the conference stage that the giant chipmaker would fund for his company, Braigo labs. Mike Bell said that he was surprised to know someone could reinvent a Braille printer and reduce its cost. Once the Braille printer design was completed, Shubham received a lot of recognition including ‘The Tech Awards’ 2014 and an invitation to the White House Maker Faire, an event that honors student entrepreneurs and innovators. Niloy said that he had invested $35,000 into this project. The exact amount of Intel’s investment was not disclosed.
Young entrepreneurs will be in their mid-teens when they make a big name. Nick D’Aloisio was 17 when he was funded for his startup Summly, a news reading app in 2011. Yahoo last year bought his company for $30 million.
While many young entrepreneurs who receive venture-capital investment end up quitting their education to focus on their businesses full time, Shubham says he doesn’t belong to that group.