Mumbai-based hyperlocal data distribution platform SugarBox has raised INR 522 Cr from its major stakeholder Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL).
Cofounder and CEO of SugarBox Rohit Paranjpe said that the investment will help the startup commence commercial operations across exclusive long-term contracts like L&T Metro, Chennai Metro, NMMT, Kolkata Metro, Indian Railways and forge new partnerships to scale up its network.
Meanwhile, Zee, which holds 80% equity stake in SugarBox, also plans to leverage the technology developed by the startup. The digital media player Zee wants to integrate the services of SugarBox with the current businesses of the company to augment digital content consumption. Zee also plans to consolidate its position by going beyond the over-the-top (OTT) video streaming and advertising services.
SugarBox, a subsidiary of Margo Networks, provides internet services even in areas of bad or no network and empowers users to access the world wide web without an active data connection. The startup is also working on government projects whereby it will be offering a catalogue of more than 4000 movies to citizens through its common service centres (CSCs) or digital kiosks.
Founded in August 2016 by Ripunjay Bararia and Rohit Paranjpe, the startup creates a hyperlocal data distribution ecosystem by installing CDN Edge servers at key places of interest (POIs). Users can connect to these POIs with a local WiFi network to get access to the internet.
SugarBox POIs in public transport, public places, rural areas, hotels and co-living spaces, malls, among other places. Using the platform, people can stream and download videos, listen to music, play online games, shop online, pay bills, order food, book tickets and access other digital services without depending on cellular data.
ZEEL’s managing director and chief executive officer Punit Goenka said that the investment in SugarBox will help enhance the digital business of the company. “The technology will enable us to serve content to consumers across the nation, without being restricted by connectivity constraints,” he added.
Currently, the SugarBox platform is used by over 22,000 travellers daily and has been experienced by over 1 Mn unique users overall. The startup is aiming to reach 25 Mn users daily and 300 Mn monthly unique users by mid-2020. SugarBox is also aiming to aggregate 2.5 Bn hours of content monthly in places where access to internet services is limited due to uneven connectivity.