40 under 40

Shubham Banerjee may be the youngest person to ever get venture funding, which made him the hit of Intel Capital’s recent Global Summit in Huntington Beach.

The invention that won the then-12-year-old Banerjee Intel’s backing is a Braille printer he devised from a Lego kit. With his mother as president and father as adviser, young Banerjee formed Braigo Labs in Palo Alto and plans to start selling a more durable version of the printer.

It also helped secure Banerjee a place on the 2014 Silicon Valley Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 list.

How did you get interested in helping blind people? Last December, I saw a flier asking for donations for the blind. So I asked my parents, “How do blind people read?” My mom and dad were quite busy at the time, though, and they told me to Google it. When I did, I found out about Braille printers and how much they cost. At the same time, the deadline on my science fair project was coming up fast, and I decided to make a low-cost Braille printer out of Legos.

Why Legos? From the time I was about two years old, Legos have fascinated me. I bought up every kit I could and I had lots of Legos. I still have Legos.

What did other people at the Intel Global Summit think of a 13-year-old getting funded? I got a lot of positive reactions. People were surprised to see a 13-year-old in the house. It was pretty scary. Some of the people there have sold multiple different companies and have been in the business for a long time.

How did people at your school react? Some of the teachers knew and some of them didn’t. But all my friends come to me every day and say, “Oh, that’s cool,” but they are getting used to it.