As a 12-year-old, Shubham Banerjee received a flier seeking donations for the blind.
He began thinking, and asked his parents how blind people read. “Google it,” they told him.
Banerjee did, and learned about Braille and the high cost of Braille printers.
So he built his own Braille printer — out of legos.
He's now planning to start selling his product, now made with other materials, by the end of the year. He hopes to reduce the number of people who are illiterate in Braille and who don't have a Braille printer.
Now 14 years old, Banerjee told his story on March 30 for the David Letterman Speaker Series. He believes technology should be helpful and not a burden due to cost. He has been to the White House and met Bill Nye, but his parents still dictate where the high school freshman gets to go.
“I get to see a lot of business opportunities and a lot of things that people of my age don’t really get to see,” he said. “Especially since I’m living in the Silicon Valley, ... I go to a lot of events where I’m the youngest person and all of the other people are above their 50s, and it’s really scary and weird because all of the people are so old.”
Banerjee said he would advise people to not give up and always ask questions. He has received some degrading emails from other Braille printing companies, but he simply puts those in the trash.
“If you have an idea, no matter how crazy it is, go for it,” Banerjee said. “Don’t be afraid to share it with other people, to actually start a company. … I know I can accomplish anything.”