Nothing makes a person feel old faster than hearing about the latest child prodigy in technology. Here we have the story of a 13-year-old named Shubham Banerjee who managed to make it through an early-stage funding round with Intel Capital. It’s still not exactly a rags to riches story, but heart warming nonetheless as the funding was announced as a surprise during a conference to which he was invited that was being held in India. Prior to receiving the investment from Intel, his cash flow consisted of $35,000 that had been invested by his biggest supporters: mom and dad.
He has been receiving this attention from Intel as a result of his innovation in the area of Braille printing. Braille, a system of raised bumps that was developed to enable the blind to read on their own, is something that has transferred particularly well to the world of 3D printing. Banerjee was attracted to the idea through a flyer he read that was being distributed as part of a fundraising campaign. He turned his attentions to the creation of a device that would be capable of printing in Braille at a significantly reduced cost. His dream is that he will someday be able to produce the printers on an industrial scale.
Intel first became aware of Banerjee because the printer he developed used an Intel Edison chip. This chip, a processor aimed at the hobbyist market, landed him a spot at the conference that was hosted to disseminate ideas about uses for the Edison. Banerjee remembers when he heard the announcement from Intel at the conference:
“I turned back to my dad, and said, ‘What did he just say??’ I was all over the place.”
While neither Banerjee nor Intel would disclose the amount of the funding, sources familiar with the project suggest that it is in the neighborhood of several hundreds of thousands of dollars. No small feat for someone who has only just reached adolescence. After Intel revealed their intentions, Banerjee got a quick crash course in business development, including vocabulary lessons such as the meaning of terms like “venture capital” and “return on investment.”
When it came time file patent papers for his work, the young entrepreneur had to turn to an adult to co-sign the documents. Luckily, Malini Banarjee, the president of his company Braigo Labs, is also his mother and was perfectly willing to lend her signature to the documents.
When he’s not busy being possibly the youngest capital backed entrepreneur in the world, the now-13-year-old is a middle school student at the Champion School in San Jose, California. He says that he mostly gets A’s and B’s. When asked if he had plans to skip out on his schooling in order to focus on his business, Banerjee showed his true intelligence:
“It’s an after-school thing.”
I can only imagine how proud his parents must be and look forward to seeing what this bright young mind continues to bring to the world of 3D printing. Let’s hear your thoughts on this incredible invention in the 3D Braille Printer forum thread on 3DPB.com.