Amid the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, proptech startup Sugar Living emerged to help enhance the at-home quarantine experience for everyone stuck indoors. Now, over a year later, the Los Angeles-born company is expanding that mission to further connect people in their residential communities through technology.
This week, Sugar announced the raise of a $2.5 million seed funding round as it strives to transform apartment buildings into interactive communities with its visionary technology. The round gathered funds from strategic investors across property tech, community and innovation — including MetaProp, Agya Ventures, Concrete Rose, Debut Capital, The Community Fund, Consonance Capital, Lightspeed Scout Fund, and entrepreneur Jason Calacanis’ LAUNCH syndicate. PropTech angels investors who participated in the round also include Wasserstrum and Diran Otegbade, Oleksiy Ignatyev, and Zillow board member Claire Cormier Thielke.
According to Sugar founder Fatima Dicko, the new funding will primarily be used to “grow both our engineering and sales teams so that we can continue building a world-class product while introducing Sugar to more properties [across] the country.” The company’s current focus now is honing in on multi-family residential properties based in the U.S.
How Sugar Developed An App To Help People Safely Engage At Their Residences
In March of last year, Sugar was organically founded as the need for people to continue interacting increased while we all obeyed at-home orders.
According to TechCrunch, Dicko saw this as a prime opportunity to bring her vision to life. She then partnered up with real estate investment groups and property management companies to design an expansive app more personable to residents beyond giving them portals to pay rent and summon property managers.
As we begin to navigate what could be a post-pandemic world soon, Sugar is turning its attention to grow its mobile and web-based platforms beyond these immediate needs. With a growing client roster of real estate investment groups, Airbnb rentals, hotels and other residential types, Sugar aims to scale its company further in order to truly serve more communities and make new connections.
How Sugar's Latest Funding Round Supports A New Narrative For Black Women Founders
Black women founders in the tech industry are indeed trying to lead the way for more entrepreneurship. Although lack of access to capital is often times a barrier for many of them, this seed round for Sugar could represent a shift in how women like Dicko are supported in their innovative endeavors.
“As a Black woman founder who immigrated to the United States from Mali at an early age, it’s incredibly energizing and humbling at the same time,” she tells AfroTech exclusively. “Having this level of support reinforces the idea that it honestly takes a village to move closer towards our goals. My dad is a huge fan of the proverb ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ I truly believe this couldn’t be more true in the world of entrepreneurship.”
She adds, “my hope is that as more underrepresented founders embark on pursuing their entrepreneurial endeavors, people who are in positions of privilege leverage that privilege to gather additional capital and resources to help elevate and propel these founders.”
What The Future Holds For Sugar's Ambitious Mission
The base of Sugar’s goal is to leverage both its technology and design thinking in an effort to improve the living experiences of people in apartment buildings across the country. Moving forward, the company hopes to not only better connect these residents within their buildings, but also find ways to connect them with their surrounding communities as well.
“We’ve heard of instances where residents want to join together to participate in volunteer initiatives within their communities as well as better support local businesses near their apartments,” Dicko says. “Unlocking the power of proximity not only means helping residents better support one another on a daily basis, but also means thinking about the role that apartment communities can play in positively impacting various aspects of their surrounding communities.”
For more information about Sugar, visit its website.