Rattan Raina IPS (Retd)
One fine morning in Dec, 2013, a seventh class student of Indian origin named Shubham Banerjee was having breakfast on the kitchen table in California, USA. He asked his father how the blind people would read. His father himself a technocrat told his son to search on internet. The boy searched on the google and learnt that the blind people all over the world read and write with the help of Braille printers and other allied gadgets.
But to his dismay, he found that the Braille Printers would cost thousands of dollars which the blind people could not generally afford.
Seriously thinking on this issue, this boy of 12 years hit upon an idea, if proved successful, would make the same gadgets available at fraction of the original price. At his home, the boy built a device and worked on it for few months but to test the same and further improve upon it, he needed more investment and expertise too. His father decided to invest money from his own savings which he did. However, in the meantime, the Intel Corporation, the world’s largest Computer chip maker, got interested in this venture. When their team of engineers examined the device, they were in for a great surprise. Seeing huge potential in boy’s invention , the Intel Corporation invested an undisclosed amount of money ( believed to be around 15 million dollars-almost Rs.100 crores) . A new company was floated by the name of Palo Alto startup Braigo Lab.. And Shubham Banerjee at the age of just 13 years became the CEO and owner of this company.
Shubham Banerjee has thus made history by being the youngest entrepreneur in the world to have received such high Capital Funding. What started as a home built mind storming project has resulted in the family setup with his mother Malini Banerjee as its president. ( she was a school teacher in California School). The father was taken as a member of the Board of Directors. The father, besides, is also acting as chauffeur and chaperone for his teen age son to attend to news events, business meetings, interviews and press briefings. The funding from Intel Corporation enabled the family to hire the engineers , production designers and other technical staff besides purchasing machines required for further research.
Shubham Banerjee’s invention will eventually provide affordable Braille Printers and other gadgets giving the blind people the better access to literature and news.The cost would be around 350 Dollars whereas the Braille Printers would originally cost 2000 to 10,000 Dollars. The Vice President of Intel Corporation Mr. Mike Bell said, “We had no idea that someone could really invent new version of Braille printer and bring the cost down to such an extent.”
This invention called Software and printer to convert computer text and internet into Braille has earned this boy of 13 years a place in history. Besides,he also happens to be 2 years younger than the British entrepreneur Nick D’Alosia who was previously the worlds youngest inventor having received the funding in the year 2011 for his startup company summly, a News Reading Appliance eventually bought by Yahoo for whopping 30 Million Dollars.
Shubham Banerjee was last year invited to White House to meet the President of the United States. He was also invited to attend Maker Fare in New York: a gathering of top technologists and inventors. Shubham says”If you think it can be done, it can probably be done”. The beauty is that with all the multifarious engagements, Shubham still goes to School and attends his classes regularly in California.
How I wish that our children back in J&K, who are undoubtedly no less talented and intelligent than their counterparts on this side of the globe, get inspired and this story acts as a torch light for them to achieve great heights and bring laurels to our Nation.
Rattan Raina IPS (Retd)