During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, proptech startup Sugar Living, helped enhance the at-home quarantine experience for those stuck inside.
Now, the Los Angeles-based startup has announced it raised $2.5 million in seed funding to expand and connect people in their residential communities with its visionary technology. The funding round was supported by a bevy of investors including SquareFoot CEO Jonathan Wasserstrum, Ben Zises, Diran Otegbade, Oleksiy Ignatyev and Zillow board member Claire Cormier Thielke.
Sugar founder Fatima Dicko came up with the idea last year when she saw an opportunity to make it easier for people living in apartments and residential communities to engage with each other in a safe and efficient way. Dicko partnered with real estate groups and property management companies to build an app for those who might feel isolated and disconnected in the pandemic.
“Most residential apps are clunky, outdated and a pain to use. Tasks as simple as paying rent, communicating with your property manager or unlocking doors are cumbersome and tedious,” Dicko told TechCrunch.
Sugar’s app not only connects people in an apartment complex or residential area, it also allows users to unlock doors without keys, schedule maintenance appointments and pay rent. Sugar has expanded to serve clients globally, including residential communities of varying sizes, real estate investment groups, Airbnb rentals, hotels and other types of residential properties.
The app comes in two components. One is a mobile app for apartments and building residents and the other is a web-based dashboard for building owners and managers. Property managers also have access to the management dashboard to track online ratings and reviews of properties within their portfolios. Sugar is now working on 90-day pilots with several major property management companies.
Black women in the tech industry are pushing for more entrepreneurship in the industry. Although access to capital still remains an obstacle, this seed round for Sugar could represent a shift in that dynamic.
“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,” Dicko told AfroTech. “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.”