SAN FRANCISCO – Startup Skylo emerged from stealth mode Jan. 21 with $116 million in the bank and plans to connect devices by transferring data over existing geostationary communications satellites.
“The key challenge we wanted to address was how data was going to be moved from machines and sensors outside of the areas where traditionally connectivity has existed,” Parthsarathi “Parth” Trivedi, Skylo co-founder and CEO, told SpaceNews. “If we could lower the cost of providing ubiquitous, affordable and reliable connectivity, there would be a phenomenal number of applications.”
Skylo raised $13 million in a Series A investment round led by DCM Ventures and Innovation Endeavors with participation by Boeing HorizonX and Moore Strategic Ventures. In its latest Series B round led by SoftBank with participation by all the firm’s previous investors, Skylo raised $103 million, according to the firm’s Jan. 21 news release.
The firm developed the Skylo Hub, a compact satellite terminal to connect machines to the Skylo Network. The Hub, which includes geolocation and acceleration sensors, operates like a wireless hotspot for nearby sensors.
Skylo opted to send data over geostationary satellites because “waiting an hour or two for communications wasn’t a viable solution for more than half of the applications that we were considering,” Trivedi said. “For fleets of trucks or fleets of fishing vessels, customers needed connectivity every five to 10 minutes.”
Trivedi declined to say which geostationary satellites carry Skylo communications. The news release said Skylo developed “a proprietary method of efficiently transmitting data” which reduces satellite usage costs. Skylo plans to attract customers by offering data plans starting at $1 per month.
Skylo created its own data platform and Application Programming Interface because “we couldn’t assume that customers would already have an end-to-end solution,” Trivedi said.
Skylo has been testing its technology in devices, vehicles and vessels in emerging markets for six to nine months, Trivedi said. For example, the firm has connected Indian fishing boats with the Indian Coast Guard. Trivedi sees promising applications for the firms technology in railways, trucking, agriculture, emergency notification and financial transactions.
“Skylo’s satellite technology creates an affordable way to connect more of the physical world to the internet, even in remote areas,” Yoshi Segawa, SoftBank Group International vice president, said in a statement. “Skylo’s antenna technology and use of the narrowband internet-of-things protocol is revolutionary, and we look forward to working with the company in developing new use cases.”
Skylo was founded in 2017 by Trivedi, Andrew Nuttall and Andrew Kalman, who also founded Pumpkin Inc. Skylo has offices in San Mateo, California, Bangalore, India, and Tel Aviv, Israel. The firm has about 30 employees and is growing rapidly, Trivedi said.