When not disrupting an industry, growing his company or pitching prospective clients, Shubham Banerjee can be found meeting his board, brainstorming with engineers or knocking on the doors of venture capitalists. Such is the life of Silicon Valley’s youngest entrepreneur.
Shubham Banerjee is the Evangelist and Founder of Braigo Labs Inc. and the inventor of Braigo.
At the age of 13, Shubham used Lego to create a low-cost Braille printer (a.k.a. Braigo) that he designed over long evenings at his family’s kitchen table in Santa Clara, an hour south of San Francisco. The idea is to print Braille reading materials from a personal computer or electronic device on to paper using raised dots instead of ink.
His startup, Braigo Labs, has received an undisclosed investment amount from Intel Capital and Shubham is considered the youngest entrepreneur to receive venture capital.
The founder and public face of Braigo Labs is too young to sign documents or write cheques so his mother is the official chief executive. His father, Niloy, originally from India, serves as the board.
Shubham devised the idea as a school science fair project last year, after he asked his parents how blind people read. “Google it,” they replied.
Shubham was shocked to discover that a market of 200 million people, most in developing countries, relied on clunky, expensive equipment. They are focused on bringing Braigo to market so real people can benefit and pay only a fraction of the original cost.
Shubham is regularly featured in International and National Media including CNN, NBC, ABC, PBS, NPR, CBC, BBC, Discovery, amongst others. He has had thousands of articles written about him in major publications and he holds several awards for innovation, to include:
• The White House – Honored Maker
• US News – Next Generation of STEM Leaders
• Popular Science – Greatest Innovations of the Year
• Trusted Reviews (UK) – Technology Innovation Awards
• Silicon Valley Business Journal 40 Under 40
• Maker Faire – Editors Choice Awards
• Readers Digest Best of America
• Fortune Magazine 18 Under 18 – The Young Innovators Who Are Changing The World
• The Guardian – Teen Powerlist
• Youngest Founder to Receive Venture Capital Funding for a Startup
His story has captured the imagination of many people, including industry veterans, and students alike who think Braigo will shake up the market for the visually impaired. He openly shares his story of innovation to inspire both adults and children alike. With his down to earth personality and young man sense of humor, Shubham has been well received by many different audiences.
Shubham Banerjee may be the youngest Silicon Valley-based tech entrepreneur to ever receive funding from a venture-capital firm, but at the end of the day he is still a typical teenager.
Banerjee’s creation, which he constructed out of LEGOs for a science-fair project earlier last year, is a low-cost Braille printer that he hopes to one day sell for a fraction of its current $2,000 price tag.
“He’s solving a real problem, and he wants to go off and disrupt an existing industry. And that’s really what it’s all about,” Edward Ross, Director of Inventor Platforms at Intel.
Shubham offers a compelling insight (and remember – he is only 13-years old) on his journey in how he disrupted an industry with an estimated 285 million people that are visually impaired worldwide with 35 million legally blind worldwide, and 90 percent of these individuals live in developing countries, according to the World Health Organization.
“An inexpensive Braille printer could bring affordable, 21st-century computing to millions of people facing visual impairment,” Shubham continues, “Technology should help us and not become a burden to high cost.”
When not disrupting an industry, growing his company or pitching prospective clients, Shubham Banerjee can be found meeting his board, brainstorming with engineers or knocking on the doors of venture capitalists. Such is the life of a Silicon Valley’s youngest entrepreneur.
In a half hour interview style format, the host will relive Shubham’s journey as a seventh-grade student from Santa Clara, California to how he developed the Braille printer using toy construction LEGO pieces. The low-cost invention could be an accessible solution for blind and disadvantaged people across the globe.
The printer, dubbed Braigo (short for Braille with Lego), was created from the Lego Mindstorms EV3 set, which retails for $349. Banerjee also added $5-worth of additional materials, which means the finished product costs about $350. This makes Braigo much more affordable than other Braille printers, which can retail for more than $2,000. Shubham’s story is filled with inspirational and motivational elements in how he viewed LEGOs more than just a toy.
Inspired by the beautiful mind of Shubham Banerjee, who combined his love of LEGO with the genuine desire to do something good for people, LEGO moved forward to create the ‘Build for Good Challenge’. LEGO sent the same $350 LEGO EV3 kit that Shubham used to seven major companies (Amazon, Egencia, Expedia, HTC, Microsoft, Nordstrom, and Zulily) and asked them to create a robot that solves a ‘human-interest problem’.
Through his inspiring journey, Shubham takes us from his proof of concept to show everyone that we can do better to help the people in need to why he had to form Braigo Labs Inc. to facilitate further research and development on many other similar solutions. Currently the company is working on different innovative ideas to bring to market alternative solutions to costly products currently available starting with braille printing/embossing technology.