Shubham Banerjee, a 13-year-old boy who is known as the youngest entrepreneur of the Silicon Valley, had a crazy feat when he invented low-cost machines to print Braille, the tactile writing system for the visually impaired. He, the owner of Braigo Labs , shares his journey to success with ScoopWhoop.
How do you enjoy being treated as a genius?
I am not a genius, I guess I had an idea and followed through step by step. Actually all the attention doesn’t really impact me, since in the background I have my head down and working hard to take the product to market… I always felt that the advances in technology should help us as human beings and not become a burden due to high costs. It is very easy to build a million dollar equipment to do a job, compared to the skills necessary to do the same job at a much cheaper price.
How did an idea of a printer for differently able students come to your mind?
I’ve been loving LEGOS since I was 2 years old. In a mail that came to our house in December 2013, I noticed some posts that said, ‘Help the blind people with donations.’ I asked my parents how blind people read and they said Google it! Upon further research, I discovered that typical Braille printers cost about $2,000 or even more, and I felt that was unnecessarily expensive for someone already at a disadvantage. Thus, I put my brain to work, and the first thing that came to mind was to create an alternative using my favourite toy .
How does a toy generate power?
The Lego EV3 kit that I used comes with the brick where you can use batteries to power up the micro controller inside after you have programmed it.
What are the future plans and aspirations that you have for Braigo Labs?
At this moment we are working hard to have the product available for the consumers, this product needs to reach everywhere and we will be working out the details of the next steps as we proceed further.
Keeping aside your achievements, have you ever gone through pressure of expectations from the world around you?
Yes, there are expectations from me. More than before. People from the blind community have probably noticed that there is hope. I am happy that now I have a team who is working to make this a success.
What is the current project that you’re working on?
Working on the industrial design and software for the printer , plus some other secret innovations. It will be revealed in due course.
If we take examples of successful entrepreneurs, many of them did not opt for higher education, what are your plans for future studies?
I will continue to do my studies, I feel it’s important. Maybe my grades will suffer a little temporarily but I do plan to go to college. Maybe in the medical or the engineering field, not certain yet.
Since you are already so successful, did the youngest entrepreneur in the world ever face failure in life?
Many a times. Failures happen, but that’s fine, since all experiments are not always successful.
Who is your inspiration?
Both my parents, they work hard a lot, for me and my sister to have a good life and gave us so many opportunities. But the other two people, I would say would be Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.
Your message for those who look up to you for inspiration?
Never feel shy from asking questions, no questions are either stupid or dumb. Read a lot of stuff online that’s not in your textbooks. Having great grades like straight As are not always the holy grail for success. If your school has science fairs then participate and try and do something different. If any door gets shut in front of you, there are always other doors to explore.