The Internet Enabler

Rohit Paranjpe, Co-founder and CEO, SugarBox in 2016 launched a platform-based, infrastructure service that ensures cheaper, faster and reliable internet access even in the farthest areas.
The Internet Enabler
Image credit: Entrepreneur India
Rohit Paranjpe, Co-founder and CEO, SugarBox

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I magine you are commuting, or vacationing in the hinterlands and are still be able to enjoy unrestricted data for free? Sounds cool, right?! It’s actually happening on the metro networks of Hyderabad, Chennai and the food courts of Mumbai-Pune Expressway. Thanks to SugarBox Networks, an internet-enabler, or simply a local wi-fi network company. Rohit Paranjpe, Co-founder and CEO, SugarBox in 2016 launched a platform-based, infrastructure service that ensures cheaper, faster and reliable internet access even in the farthest areas.

It is the world’s first Hyperlocal Content Distribution Network (CDN), a digital avatar of the physical distribution network. SugarBox installs CDN servers inside Internet Data Centers and also installs them on mass transport systems, hospitals, public areas and malls among others. The first-generation entrepreneur proudly claim the platform’s USP of being a platform to access content for free without relying on mobile data and with added benefits.

Talking about his eureka moment, Paranjpe says, “The aha moment for SugarBox was in 2014, when we had to look at giving our 3.5 million consumer base, concentrated in Tier II and III cities, a digital experience, similar to TV subscription amid challenges.”

HIGHS & LOWS “Too many, so, I prefer talking about the ones I faced when I started SugarBox”. His major low was when SugarBox failed at making the Zee5 app work on their platform. Later, they did find a revolutionary solution and it actually set the stage for what they do today. Celebration moments were, One, when they actually developed a technology and received a patent from the US patent office. The other would be, being awarded the Indian Railways contract. Last year saw Zee Entertainment investing Rs 522 crore in the platform.

2020 IN A NUTSHELL “Full of ups and downs like everyone else”, says Paranjpe. “The biggest setback was when our most ambitious plan of installing for 1,500 trains and other plans for the current fiscal had to be put on hold.” They could onboard only three of the 15 apps, as the app creators were themselves struggling to stay afloat. Nevertheless, they utilised the time to pay attention to certain aspects of their operations and strategies. FUTURE PLANS His tone changes to one of triumph, when he talks about his deployment scale-ups this year. They will finally be going live at +5,000 train stations at Feb-end, installing at trains, doubling deployment in Gram Panchayats (GP), with a target of 100 GPs in the next quarter.

They are looking to increase coverage so that more people benefit and it does not stay as a platform to stream content. Talking about his next trigger for growth, Paranjpe has his eyes trained on reaching the Indian hinterlands and tapping the 500 million potential base. He says he is looking to solve a global internet problem which is graver in other countries too. Paranjpe is positive that SugarBox will be helming the initiative yet again to implement it faster and on a massive scale

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