Wi-Fi service startup i2e1 raises $3 Mn via Omidyar Network, Others

Delhi-based Wi-Fi service startup i2e1 has raised $3 million in Series A funding led by impact investment firm Omidyar Network. The round also saw participation from the US-based Auxano Ventures, Mohandas Pai-backed early-stage venture capital firm 3one4 Capital, and few existing investors also made the investment.

Incubated at IIT-Delhi, i2e1 was founded in 2015 by Darmora, Nishit Aggarwal, Gaurav Bansal, Maanas Dwivedi, Ashutosh Mishra, and Anugrah Adams, a group of IIT-IIM graduates with experience in leadership positions at American Express, Dell, and Microsoft.

Satyam Darmora, co-founder of i2e1 said, “The aim is to build a connected ecosystem where information is available to everyone at the right time and place. Retailers in India are slowly realizing that Wi-Fi as a service not only increases customer delight but can also be used to understand customer behaviour patterns when utilised effectively. We have created a strong product with positive unit economics, and the current round of funding is critical for us to scale.”

Based on innovation at the hardware front, i2e1 aims to reduce the cost of network delivery through cloud-based, remotely manageable plug and play devices. The platform leverages advanced machine-learning systems to create valuable insights and increase revenue and profitability for brands and merchants.

On the other side, the platform also enables Internet access on various wireless devices to businesses and end-users in India. The service is live across India with over 100 paying clients, including retail outlets, ISPs, and organisations in the hospitality industry like ZO Rooms Ola Shuttle, OYO and RedBus, among others.

In the last 18 months, i2e1 claims to have grown 30 times and serviced more than 3,000 locations across 75 cities in the country.

Commenting on the investment in i2e1, Siddharth Nautiyal, Investment Partner at Omidyar Network said, “Despite advancements in infrastructure from telecom companies, significant gaps exist across internet connectivity and affordability for the masses, paving the way for increased Wi-Fi proliferation to enable ubiquitous and low-cost access. Given the steep growth in smartphones and soaring data consumption, the government’s push towards Digital India, and favourable regulatory changes, i2e1 has the potential to become the de-facto gateway to the internet for millions, empowering offline retailers with rich user insights and smarter decision making.”

The startup earlier had raised $500,000 in seed funding from growX ventures, Pai, Rajan Pandhare, Debasish Mitter and Singapore Angels.