Thinkerbell Labs, which builds literacy devices for the visually impaired has raised an angel investment of Rs 1.3 Crore from Indian Angel Network and Mr Anand Mahindra. The angel round was led by Mr. Rajesh Navaneetham and Mr. Manjunath Nayak. Mr. Anand Mahindra, Chairman and Managing Director at Mahindra Group invested in the company in his personal capacity. Mr.Rajesh Navaneetham will sit on the board of ThinkerBell Labs representing IAN. The startup will be utilizing the funds to run pilots in the UK, setting up product, sales and content teams.
Founded in 2016 by four BITS Pilani, Goa Campus Graduates, Sanskriti Dawle, Aman Srivastava, Dilip Ramesh and Saif Shaikh, the startup aims at eliminating the problem of low literacy among visually impaired people all over the world. The team was earlier working under the name Project Mudra and recently made the switch to Thinkerbell Labs.
The startup’s flagship product Annie, addresses the pain point of low braille literacy among the visually impaired by helping them learn how to Read, Write and Type in Braille. Annie can be used directly by the CYP (children and young people with Visual Impairment) to self-learn Braille and be monitored by the teachers or parents.
Elucidating on the Angel Round, Sanskriti Dawle, Co-Founder, Thinkerbell Labs said, “We are incredibly privileged to be invested in by such an amazing group of investors. We believe that their network and skills would be a significant addition to our team and would certainly help us in our quest to build inclusive economic growth by dramatically increasing the literacy rate of Braille world over.”
“Currently, there are more than 285 Million visually impaired people in the world. Given that a tactile medium is the only way in which the visually impaired can read and write, it is extremely important for them to learn Braille. There is a direct correlation of low braille literacy and unemployment among the visually impaired. However, even in developed countries, braille literacy rates are extremely low. It is only 4% in the UK. In the USA, only 10% are literate in Braille and in India it is less than 1%,” notes Dawle.
A big feather in the team’s cap was when in April 2016, Project Mudra presented a demo of their product to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in Mumbai and it was at this event the founders first met IAN Co-Founder Mr. Saurabh Srivastava and Mr Anand Mahindra who expressed their interest for an investment.
The start-up has several other accolades to their credit which includes, Great Tech Rocketships – Department of International Trade, UK Government and 500K BIZ Launchpad – Deshpande Foundation (Given out by Mr. Narayan Murthy).