India's Oyo Rooms looks to grow beyond Asia

Oyo Edition O 30013 Seawood Juhu Photo credit: Oyo Rooms

Oyo Rooms, one of India's fastest-growing hotel companies, is looking to sign deals for as many as 300 independent hotels by the end of 2019. This would be the company's first expansion outside of Asia.

Ritesh Agarwal, the company's 24-year-old founder, told Reuters he plans to spend $53 million to launch the company in 10 British cities over the next 18 months via a smartphone-based service for franchise owners and guests. Agarwal said his company will select hotels from among Britain’s 35,000-40,000 independent operators, offering redesign, property management and marketing to help them compete. “By focusing on the customer and small-asset owners, we tend to out-compete some of our more traditional hotel chain rivals,” said Agarwal.

Agarwal has hired London restaurant entrepreneur Jeremy Sanders to run the British business. The company plans to have 5,000 hotel rooms available across Britain by 2020. The first two properties will open in London's Edgware and Ilford neighborhoods next month.

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Agarwal founded Oyo Rooms just five years ago, and the company now has 211,000 guestrooms in 349 cities across South Asia.

Oyo is backed by SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund, considered among the world’s largest private tech investors, which views the hotel chain as a prime example of how data- and technology-driven companies can disrupt entrenched industries such as the hospitality sector. Alongside Vision Fund, other funders include GreenOak Capital and the India-based arms of Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Last month, China-based investor Tencent was in talks to lead a $300-million to 500-million round of funding for Oyo Rooms, which was poised to increase the brand's value to more than $2 billion. This is double its previous $850-million value, which the company raised in 2017 from SoftBank through its Vision Fund. 

According to Crunchbase data, Oyo has raised $450 million so far.

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