Skylo, maker of the world’s most affordable and ubiquitous network that connects any machine or sensor, has announced that the company has emerged from stealth with U.S.$116 million in total funding. The company previously raised U.S.$13 million in a Series A round that was co-led by DCM and Innovation Endeavors, and joined by Moore Strategic Ventures. The new Series B round raised U.S.$103 million, led by SoftBank Group and joined by all existing investors.
Skylo will bring instant, affordable and ubiquitous Internet of Things connectivity to millions of machines, sensors and devices, even in the most remote geographies. It is the world’s first company to leverage the cellular Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) protocol via satellite, making it possible to instantly connect billions of sensors on objects and machines in remote areas. Skylo’s new satellite connectivity leverages existing geostationary satellites to bring reliable connectivity without the need to add new infrastructure in space. Skylo has successfully built and proven its end-to-end technology and completed successful commercial field trials with major enterprise and government customers. The company’s customers already include enterprise and government entities in a range of industries including automotive, railways, agriculture and maritime.
Skylo costs 95% less than existing satellite solutions, with connectivity starting at just U.S.$1 per user and hardware that costs less than U.S.$100. Skylo is the world’s most affordable satellite technology and will enable operations for remote businesses, increase safety, drive economic development and job creation, and help with disaster preparedness and response.
“Skylo envisions a world where connectivity for machines, sensors and devices is as ubiquitous as the sky,” said Skylo co-founder and CEO Parthsarathi “Parth” Trivedi. “This low-cost, global fabric of connectivity for machine data will be transformative for entire industries.”
The use cases for Skylo are diverse and transformational for industry and government customers:
- Mobilizing data for shipping and logistics. Telemetry sensors are increasingly being built into and retrofitted onto trucks and railway cars, but the connectivity needed to make the data actionable has been missing. By equipping them with Skylo’s geographically ubiquitous connectivity, customers have a way to access real-time delivery updates, ensure the integrity of temperature-sensitive deliveries (like pharmaceuticals or food), monitor maintenance schedules, certify safety compliance, and more.
- Improving agriculture crop health and productivity. Skylo allows farmers to optimize operations by sending and receiving real-time data about growing conditions such as air temperature, moisture level or soil pH. The data can inform watering schedules, fertilizer needs, and growth cycles, resulting in lower energy costs, less water usage, and healthier crops. Skylo also supports emerging business models for equipment sharing, enabling “tractor sharing,” for instance. In this case, farmers and equipment owners can connect to and share heavy-duty machinery, which enables hundreds of millions of farmers to increase their productivity because of affordable access to farming equipment.
- Digitizing the fisheries industry. Globally, there are 4.6 million fishing vessels1 that can now be connected for the first time over Skylo. Skylo’s Hub connects to existing Android devices over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, allowing fishermen to access life-saving two-way SOS communications, connect with their fleet operator, and access markets to transact their catch while still at sea.
- Connectivity for modern passenger transportation systems. Railway systems, long-distance buses, and other vehicles can use Skylo to transmit vehicle health data required for on-time performance and operational efficiency. Skylo can enable the delivery of preventative maintenance alerts and even saves lives by triggering alerts in the case of an abnormal track vibration, sudden braking or acceleration or sharp turns.
Skylo’s end-to-end solution encompasses the Skylo Hub, the Skylo Network, the Skylo Data Platform and Skylo API. Mass manufacturing of the Skylo Hub is underway and the Skylo Network is already live with early customers.
- Skylo Hub — The Skylo Hub is a self-installed, easy-to-use satellite terminal that connects to the Skylo Network. It has a suite of onboard sensors to sense geolocation and acceleration, and operates like a wireless “hot spot” for a variety of external sensors such as vehicle on-board diagnostics (OBD2), temperature sensors, and standard mobile or tablet devices. The Hub uses off-the-shelf components from the cellular world, which drastically reduces the cost of the Hub and increases sensor and device compatibility. Skylo’s breakthrough digitally-steered antenna technology makes the device so compact that the Hub itself is only 8” x 8”, and the antenna can even be OEM-installed onto most vehicles, utilities infrastructure, and other industrial equipment. The Skylo Hub has a built-in battery, or can connect directly to external power sources, including solar.
- Skylo Network — The Skylo Network can provide reliable connectivity anywhere in the world, regardless of geography, without needing new infrastructure in space. It is the world’s most affordable way to transmit data over satellite and leverages existing geostationary satellites available worldwide. Skylo has also developed a proprietary method of efficiently transmitting data; this technology minimizes satellite usage costs, a cost savings that is passed onto Skylo customers.
- Skylo Data Platform and Skylo API — The Skylo Data Platform and API helps customers to manage their Skylo Hubs remotely and visualize, analyze and act on the data that is generated, sent, and received via connected devices.
“Skylo lives up to the definition of a disruptive innovation — with its low costs, it will enable millions of unconnected devices to experience the transformative effects of connectivity — saving lives, enhancing livelihoods and creating connections where they didn’t exist before,” said Skylo Board Chairman and former U.S. Ambassador Terry Kramer. “Skylo is a global game-changer.”
“Skylo’s satellite technology creates an affordable way to connect more of the physical world to the internet, even in remote areas,” said Yoshi Segawa, vice president at SoftBank Group International. “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 CEO Parth Trivedi, Chief Technology Officer Dr. Andrew Nuttall and Chief Hub Architect Dr. Andrew Kalman. The company’s current Board of Directors includes Board Chairman former U.S. Ambassador Terry Kramer, David Chao of DCM, Scott Brady of Innovation Endeavors, Harpinder “Harpi” Singh of Innovation Endeavors, and Skylo CEO Trivedi. Following the receipt of required regulatory approvals, SoftBank Group will also have a representative on the Board of Directors, who will be Yoshi Segawa. Skylo has offices in San Mateo, Calif., Bangalore, India, and Tel Aviv, Israel, and is growing the team globally to support its fast-growing customer base.
Skylo will scale customer implementations first in India and other emerging markets, where it has already started implementing the technology in a range of industries. Skylo’s service will be commercially available later this summer and the company is in commercial trials with users in the U.S. and other world regions for subsequent launches and market expansion.
Skylo Technologies brings real-time, affordable and ubiquitous Internet of Things connectivity to millions of machines, sensors and devices, even in the most remote places on Earth. Skylo is disruptively affordable — costing 95% less than traditional satellite connectivity — and is the first company leverage the cellular Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) protocol for satellite communications. Skylo can connect sensors on millions of objects and machines in remote areas across a wide range of industries including agriculture, fishing, railways, logistics, utilities infrastructure and more.
DCM is a global venture capital firm based in Silicon Valley, Beijing, and Tokyo with over U.S.$4 billion under management. DCM has invested in more than 400 early-stage technology companies globally, and provides hands-on operational guidance and a global network of business and financial resources. DCM has backed industry leading companies including Careem (Uber), Bill.com, Sansan, Freee, Life360, Musical.ly (TikTok), Fortinet, Sling Media, Wrike, 51job, 58.com, BitAuto, Dangdang, Happy Elements, Houchebang (ManBang), Kakao Talk, TanTan, Tuniu, Vipshop, UCloud and Uxin. DCM has also invested in exciting, rising startups such as FuboTV, Hims, Lime, Plenty, SoFi, Kuaishou, Maimai and Pony.ai.
Innovation Endeavors is an early-stage venture capital firm that invests in visionary founders, transformational technologies and emergent ecosystems. The firm’s central investment thesis, the Super Evolution, combines data, leading-edge computation, and advanced engineering to transform industries, from agriculture and logistics to life sciences, transportation and more. Innovation Endeavors is headquartered in Silicon Valley. Its investments include: Fabric; Freenome; Planet; Plenty; SoFi; Uber; and Zymergen.