Meet Mukund, a successful 16 yo entrepreneur that did just that. Hear his advice on how to build your startup while still getting straight A’s (mostly) in high school.

 
16-year-old Mukund Venkatakrishnan was frustrated with how costly and time intensive it was for his grandfather to obtain a hearing aid. So he spent two years making one himself that will cost less.

16-year-old Mukund Venkatakrishnan was frustrated with how costly and time intensive it was for his grandfather to obtain a hearing aid. So he spent two years making one himself that will cost less.

I Built a low cost hearing device for people with hearing loss

I built a low-cost device that tests a person’s hearing with a series of beeps, and also programs itself to become a hearing aid customized for that person. It eliminates the need for an expensive doctor and can be used with even the cheapest set of headphones. Read on if you’ve ever asked your self “How do i turn my idea into a business".


How’d you get started on this journey?

A few years ago, I visited my grandfather in India, while there, I realized he had hearing loss. The process of getting him tested and fitted for a hearing aid was pretty terrible, it cost over $1500. The average yearly income in India is only $600, so that’s a problem. I began researching the problem of hearing loss. That’s where I came up with my idea.


Tell us about some of the challenges you faced early on

I was not a technical person when i started this venture, I had to learn how to code. but it’s not that difficult to learn a coding language, you can do it in 7 hours if you focus, or 2 weeks like me, I didn’t focus.

I’d also say, the hardest part was wanting to quit, but making myself not quit. I wasn’t working in a lab where I could do this quickly and had all the equipment I needed, I was working in my bedroom at like 2am. There’s definitely something to be said for pivoting or even ending a venture, but there’s just as much to be said for sticking it out and powering through when you think everything is going to fail. That was probably my biggest challenge, not quitting or giving up.

Mukund's hearing device

Mukund's hearing device


Did you always know this would be successful?

There’s definitely something to be said for pivoting or even ending a venture, but there’s just as much to be said for sticking it out and powering through when you think everything is going to fail. That was probably my biggest challenge, not quitting or giving up.

How will you get this device into hands of people who need it?

I’m hoping to partner with the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and the United Nations, and license the technology to them. They know far more about distributing a product like this to people who really need it in developing countries.

If you could go back in a time machine and do 1 thing different what would it be?

When I first started the project, I thought the entire thing would be done in two months…. it’s been two years now and I still have a lot of work to do. If I could go back, I’d tell myself to set more realistic goals to work towards. Setting bad goals can discourage you and lower your morale.


What 1 piece of advice do you have for other students thinking about entrepreneurship?

Don’t give up! Like I said, there is a time and a place for pivoting or giving up, but not until you’ve exhausted every possible avenue to continue and you’ve given it your all. If you’re not willing to do that, you probably shouldn’t be an entrepreneur.

Can entrepreneurship be learned, or is it in your blood?

A little bit of both, but I will say, some people are just made for it. You can learn all the business and technical skills, you can even learn the interpersonal skills you need… but there’s really no way to learn passion or hard work and that’s the most important component of entrepreneurship.

What are your plans for the future?

First and foremost is going to college, I’m looking all over but my first choice is MIT. I want to get some kind of technical degree with a business minor or double major, Catapult showed me that having the technical skills and the business skills is really the way to go. But after college, everything is up in the air.


How can someone help you out?

If anyone has contacts with NGOs (think Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation etc.) or even governmental health agencies (WHO, NIH, etc.), I’d love to talk to them.

What resource would you recommend for other high schoolers interested in entrepreneurship?

The Harvard Business Review, it’s full of great stuff.


 

Mukund saw a problem.

he built a solution.

found a team.

What problem will you fix?

Mukund building his device from scratch

Mukund building his device from scratch