With tech investment, Oyo expands into Japan

Oyo Hotels & Homes has opened its first Oyo Life furnished apartment in Tokyo. Photo credit: Oyo Rooms

India's Oyo Hotels & Homes keeps making headlines. In the wake of a rumored nine-figure investment from Airbnb, the fast-growing hospitality upstart has expanded into Japan through a joint venture with Tokyo-based SoftBank Corp. and SoftBank Vision Fund.

Oyo Hotels Japan will be led by Prasun Choudhary as the operating partner, an Oyo founding member who has launched a number of global Oyo businesses. 

"Given our shared vision for a digital future, we are excited to support a Vision Fund portfolio company in deploying cutting-edge technologies and services to Japan," said Ken Miyauchi, president/CEO of SoftBank Corp. "Combining Oyo's most advanced business model with SoftBank Corp.'s knowledge of the Japanese market, we will provide [a] brand-new hotel experience to travelers in Japan...We are sure that Oyo Hotel Japan will contribute to the revitalization of the travel market, including inbound tourism and regional revitalization in Japan."

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"Japan is fast emerging as one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia. We at Oyo Hotels & Homes see this as a huge opportunity and are excited to contribute towards the growth of the local economy," said Ritesh Agarwal, group CEO/founder, Oyo Hotels & Homes. 

While the terms of the latest joint venture were not disclosed, sources told local paper Economic Times that Oyo will have a 50-percent stake in Oyo Hotels Japan GK, while SoftBank Corp. and its $100-billion Vision Fund will each hold a 25-percent stake in the venture. 

Oyo already raised $1 billion in a round led by Softbank Investment Advisors in September.

Oyo Life

Just as Oyo Hotels Japan was announced, Oyo partnered with Yahoo Japan Corp. to form the Oyo Technology & Hospitality Co. joint venture and bring its Oyo Life furnished apartment rental program to the country. The partnership went live with more than 1,000 rooms spread across 20 ku (special zones) in Tokyo.

According to a SoftBank Corp. statement, the company received more than 11,000 pre-registrations within days of the service's launch.

The platform aims to solve challenges involved in apartment rentals across Japan, where renting traditionally requires a security deposit, non-refundable key money as well as introduction fee for real estate agents, making it hard for people on their first jobs to secure a rental. 

Oyo is launching two solutions to help ameliorate these challenges within the market. The Oyo Passport program is a subscription-based membership program that will be available to Oyo Life residents. The passport will help subscribers take advantage of benefits from a list of companies that are part of the Sharing Economy Association of Japan (SEAJ). 

Oyo Partner Real Estate Stores, meanwhile, will help real estate professionals take advantage of the internet economy. Member stores will offer opportunities for people to drive awareness of available Oyo Life buildings and generate supply as well as demand, while simultaneously encouraging more people to open more stores where people can find information on properties to rent. Oyo Partner Real Estate currently has more than 30 stores in Tokyo, including areas such as Roppongi and Azabu-Juban.

Oyo Life also is integrating with the Yahoo! Japan search engine, homepage, travel and real estate portal.