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BW Businessworld

Faster & Cheaper Access Enabled

Rohit Paranjpe, Co-Founder and CEO, SugarBox, speaks to BW Businessworld on the brand, his journey and more.

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Founded in 2016, SugarBox is a content distribution network that makes internet access faster and cheaper for the masses. Rohit Paranjpe, Co-Founder and CEO, SugarBox, speaks to BW Businessworld on the brand, his journey and more.
How did you come up with SugarBox? Tell us about the journey.

The journey to SugarBox is pretty much a culmination of what I’ve done throughout my life. The first venture that I started dabbled in the travel space. We were doing very similar to what Ola does today with the tablets that are fitted at the back of the cab. After that, I dabbled into the media entertainment space. That is when we started running into problems with the internet connectivity. That is when SugarBox came into being. Since then we have been diving deep into specific problems like the reliability of internet or universal access to the internet. And that is really how the journey of the digital box game began.
Given that you’re trying to provide internet to all the remote locations, how difficult have the last one-and-a-half years been in terms of outreach?  

Honestly, it has actually been a mix of both. Internet is such a wide opportunity. A number of people travel and encounter terrible internet network and horrible connectivity. Hence we decided to solve that problem first.

This was the time when Covid had just started. Around 95 per cent of all of our infrastructure was actually deployed in public transport. And overnight, all public transport network was shut due to the lockdown. So we had zero business in April 2020. But that was also the time when we were able to transition quickly because we realised that people were either back home, or they had migrated back to the villages.
How are you planning to capitalize on SugarBox?

The traditional CDN or content delivery network stacks work perfectly well until you have  300 million people consuming 5 to 10 GB of data every month. Now you have 800 million people consuming that much data in less than a week. And that is where the ecosystem starts failing.

The next bigger part happens the moment you start moving into future technologies. Take the example of AR. We have connected devices with IoT. Now we are talking about billions of sensors that are going to keep pinging the internet, literally every minute. And that is where an ecosystem which is distributed like ours becomes far more relevant. Over the next two to three years, we’ll actually start getting into smarter applications. Like, how does one enable a Kirana store? Or running a VR application in a remote village for people to experience. That is where we’re headed for.
How would you describe your feelings on winning the Young Entrepreneur Award?

It’s always a humbling experience. We put in a lot of effort and often don’t get any recognition for the effort until you hit it big. Awards do help in boosting one’s morale. And not just for us, it’s also for our teams. I think it’s fantastic.