Meet The 13-Year-Old CEO Who Made It Big By Helping Blind People Read

by John Haltiwanger

The most intelligent, innovative and successful people in the world all possess the indispensable quality of curiosity.

Innovators are constantly identifying problems, asking questions and searching for solutions. Without inquisitiveness, humanity would be a static entity.

Hence, the first step toward changing the world is the desire to learn.

Likewise, as Albert Einstein once stated:

The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.

Similarly, a resourceful and creative 13-year-old boy just became the youngest tech entrepreneur ever to receive funding from a venture-capital firm.

This young man hasn't even graduated from high school, and he's already invented a product that has the potential to help millions of people.

His journey to this point began with the simple act of asking a question. By searching for answers, he became a solution.

Meet Shubham Banerjee

Last year, Shubham Banerjee came to the realization that he had no idea how blind people read. Naturally, he did what most young people do when they aren't sure of something -- he asked his parents. When he approached them, however, they encouraged him to look for the answer himself. As he puts it:

I asked my parents... but they were busy and told me to Google it.

Upon searching for the answer, Banerjee discovered that blind people read with Braille, the raised-dot writing system. Yet, in the process, he also learned that Braille printers are exorbitantly expensive -- $2,000 or more, on average.

At the time, he was just 12 years old. Most kids his age probably would've let this go, but this was completely unacceptable to Shubham.

After doing further research, he learned that 90 percent of the world's 285 million visually-impaired people live in developing countries.

It quickly became apparent to him that visually-impaired people living in poverty would have a very difficult time getting access to Braille due to the high cost of printers.

Accordingly, he states:

It [the cost of printers] just seemed so high, especially for all these people living in developing countries. I thought, 'I have to bring the cost down.'

As a result, Banerjee set out to build a low-cost Braille printer.

Helping Blind People Read... With Legos

By using Lego’s Mindstorms EV3 blocks and affordable parts from Home Depot, Shubham was able to construct a cheap and efficient Braille printer.

Banerjee dubbed his product "Braigo," a combination of the words "Braille" and "Lego." Every day after school, he works on improving his invention.

As he explains it, it was a relatively simple idea at first:

I just wanted to help the visually impaired. I had a Lego Robotics kit, so I asked, 'Why not just try that?'

By combining his love of Legos with a desire to improve the lives of people around the world, Banerjee created a truly innovative product.

Shubham believes that his invention will help drive down the cost of Braille printers to as low as $500. He argues that this is a moral issue:

I want to tell (big company manufacturers) to stop taking advantage of blind people.

At present, it appears likely that he will succeed in this commendable endeavor.

Due to the fact that he's a minor, he can't officially be the CEO of his company, Braigo Labs. For the moment, he is simply the founder.

In spite of his age, Shubham's impressive product has already garnered the attention of major investors.

Shubham's Company Just Received Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars

A year ago, Shubham Banerjee had no idea what Braille was. Now, however, he's the founder and de facto CEO of a start-up that Intel Capital just invested in, and he's only 13.

At the Intel Capital Global Summit last week, it was announced that Braigo Labs was among the 16 tech startups that Intel will be investing in this year.

The exact amount of the investment is unknown, but it's thought to be somewhere in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

What makes this all so remarkable is not just Banerjee's age, but also his desire to improve and enrich the lives of people around the world. He is an inspiration, and possesses wisdom far beyond his years.

Correspondingly, when asked what initially motivated him to build the low-cost Braille printer, Shubham stated:

It was curiosity. I’m always thinking up something. If you think it can be done, then it can probably be done.

At just 13 years old, Shubham is already an example for us all. Undoubtedly, this is only the beginning for this extraordinary young man. Indeed, it appears that Banerjee and Braigo Labs are destined for even bigger and better things.

The greatest inventions in history were once considered improbable ideas. All it takes is one person to attempt the impossible for the world to move forward.

Shubham Banerjee is a testament to the fact that we can begin fighting for a better world at any point in life. Age is no obstacle; true innovation is timeless.