Meet Silicon Valley's Youngest Entrepreneur

There is an increasing trend among MBA students to choose to work with start-ups, even for a much lesser pay package than what they may get in regular MBA jobs. Many of them choose to strike out on their own, chasing dreams. These dreams may not necessarily lie in the business sector, but can even lie i the social sector. Realising the trend, many institutes are now offering a branch of MBA in entrepreneurship. And it is finding a number of takers.

That brand of entrepreneurs aside, the internet generation has thrown a whole lot of teeny boppers who are raking by the thousands and millions. While many have made headlines in the past, the latest in line is Shubham Banerjee, a teen of Indian origin who is prominent in the Silicon Valley, USA. This thirteen year old, who is still in the eighth grade, has developed a low cost machine to print in Braille. This brought the IT major Intel visiting to his start-up Braigo Labs. Braille is the tactile writing and reading system used by the visually impaired.

It was a school science fair that sparked his interest. He built a Braille printer with his Lego Robotics kit for the fair which got him thinking how blind people read. On Googling, his research led him to the fact that the printer used to print in Braille cost about two thousand dollars. This made it prohibitively expensive for most blind readers, especially in developing countries. This set him thinking, and he set about building a printer for the blind by spending many hours with his Lego Mindstorms EV 3 kit. He demonstrated his printer to the visitors on the kitchen table of his house.

It is now Shubham’s desire to build a printer for the blind which will print out raised dots on paper straight from a personal computer or printing device. The printer should not cost more than three and a half hundred dollars and weigh less than a few pounds against the current printers which can weigh up to twenty pounds.

The name Braigo itself is derived from a combo of Braille and Lego and it received a lot of support from the blind community. Shubham started Braigo with an investment of three and a half thousand dollars from his father. With this investment, he built an improved version of his Lego printer by combining a regular printer got off the shelf with a chip from Intel that could convert text to Braille.

So impressed were Intel officials with the model that they invested in the start-up. The investment amount is undisclosed, but Intel has obtained a financial stake in the company. Shubham is believed to be the youngest entrepreneur to receive venture capital from Intel. Braigo is now using the fund to hire professional engineers and advisors to improve upon the design of the printer. A prototype may hit the market later this year. Well done Shubham Banerjee for this marvellous invention. This 13-year old teenager has thought about a community that is not so often thought about and who don’t have too many resources to learn Braille.

Atreyee Roy (have 690 posts in total)

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