13-Year-Old Creator of Lego Braille Printer Is Youngest Ever to Receive Venture Capital Funding - NBC Bay Area
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13-Year-Old Creator of Lego Braille Printer Is Youngest Ever to Receive Venture Capital Funding

Shubham Banerjee designed a functioning Braille printer made out of a Lego robotics kit when he was 12. This week, Intel Capital announced it is investing in the boy’s startup, Braigo Labs.

Intel Capital announced on Tuesday it is funding Braigo Labs and it's founder, 13-year-old Shubham Banerjee (Published Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014)

From a child playing with Legos to the founder of a Silicon Valley technology company. It's a path many of today's young business leaders have likely followed.

None, however, have made the transition quite as quickly as Shubham Banerjee.

On Tuesday, Intel Capital announced it will invest in Braigo Labs and its 13-year-old founder. This makes Shubham, according to Intel's research, the youngest recipient ever of venture capital funding.

"That's a big thing," Shubham says of the distinction.

Shubham's original Braille printer, Braigo, was created using a $350 Lego Mindstorms robotic kit.

Shubham first came to the attention of the technology world earlier this year when, as a 12-year-old, he created a functioning Braille printer out of a Lego Mindstorms robotics kit. "I was just looking to help the visually impaired," says Shubham of the project, created over a three-month period working nights and weekends on his family's kitchen table in their Santa Clara home.

Shubham says the idea for the printer, eventually dubbed Braigo, started with a flier dropped off at the Banerjee home. It was a request for donations to a charity aiding the blind. Shubham says he had never before given much thought to the lives of the visually impaired.

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He asked his father how blind people read.

"Google it," was his father's response.

Braigo 2.0 is a more conventional-style printer. Shubham is founder of a company, Braigo Labs, that hopes to put the printer into production.

When Shubham did just that, he learned about Braille and Braille printers, particularly how expensive they were. "Two-thousand dollars and up," Shubham says. He knew that must put them out of reach for many blind people.

His creation, while not entirely practical, was certainly inspirational to many. Shubham suddenly became the focus of numerous news stories. The tech prodigy with a heart of gold was a story that resonated around the world.

"It was pretty crazy," Shubham says. "I don't know how that happened.

Intel Capital's investment in Braigo Labs, and Shubham, makes him, according to their research, the youngest recipient of venture capital funding ever.

Shubham has since traveled all over the country demonstrating Braigo. He was even invited to a Maker Faire held at the White House this summer. "I was just 15 feet from the President of the United States," Shubham gushes.

He also kept himself busy working on the next generation of Braigo. "I knew I wasn't done yet," Shubham says.

His latest creation, Braigo 2.0 is no longer a Lego hack but a genuine consumer product. "The cheapest, lightest Braille printer ever made."

Like all great Silicon Valley idea's, though, Shubham as going to need money to bring his printer from prototype to store shelves. That is what Intel Capital's money is intended to do.

"I feel more passionate than ever about what I'm doing," Shubham says. "The sky's the limit."

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