Cambridge-Based Sookbox Connects Media and Devices

Monday Jan 7, 2013 by Susan Johnston - Contributor, VentureFizz

With the rise of smartphones, tablets, and TVs streaming online video, consumers have more ways than ever to view content like music, movies, or photos. But as serial entrepreneur Dave Sukoff will tell you, not all those platforms are the ideal.

“Content should be viewed it its proper place,” says Sukoff, principal and founder of Sookbox, a solution launching this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. “A lot of times you’ll see people huddled around their iPad to watch a movie or listening to music on an iPhone. You’ve got consumers have all kinds of different places where they have their media and display their media. They’re all disparate. There’s no uniform central way to do it.”

Sukoff began thinking about this problem around 2005, but it wasn’t until he built a new house in 2010 that he got serious about solving it. “I couldn’t find a real solution to this problem and took it upon myself to create it,” says Sukoff, who teamed up with five MIT developers to flesh out the solution. “It’s a means of breaking the old paradigm, which is the linear model of one controller connected to one output. We’re creating a new home server and new framework for displaying media.”

Sukoff says the Sookbox’s software framework is device-agnostic. “If someone uses an iPhone, they can use our software and whatever applications they want on that,” he explains. “If you want to watch Hulu in the family room, use your iPhone to tell the Sookbox to send Hulu to the family room.”

Initial funding for Sookbox came from Sukoff and friends but the company closed a $600,000 round of funding in October. Sookbox has since grown to ten people and is based in Cambridge’s Inman Square about a mile from MIT, where some of the developers are still in school. “Being in this environment, it’s the innovation center of the world,” says Sukoff. “We’re in an old laundry building which is now converted for MIT startups. We bought furniture in the 38 Studios auction. It’s great for a startup to be able to furnish the office for 15 cents on the dollar.”

Sookbox’s pricing and distribution strategy are still in the works. “For the 50 betas right now we’re selling directly to people that we know,” says Sukoff. “Beyond that, we would like it would be sold retail but not directly through us. It’s a premium product, but we want it priced such that it belongs in every home and we want to make it available. We believe we’ve found the universal solution. We think it should be everywhere.”

Susan Johnston is a journalist and contributor to VentureFizz.  You can follow Susan on Twitter (@UrbanMuseWriter) by clicking here.

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