A 6-year-old Indian startup wants to be world’s biggest hotel chain

Oyo RoomsReuters
  • Oyo wants to have 1 million hotel rooms in the next one-and-a-half years.
  • The hospitality unicorn had recently appointed Aditya Ghosh, former Indigo president, as its CEO of South Asia operations.
  • The company is focusing on international growth with plans to further enter into the European, Chinese, Malaysian and Indonesian markets.
In 2013, a scrawny 20-year-old from Odisha set out to start a portal from where you could book hotel rooms online. Cut to 2019 and the 25-year-old Ritesh Agarwal is the founder of India’s unicorn startup Oyo Rooms. It also has Aditya Ghosh, the former president of Indigo Airlines, on board and together, they intend to make Oyo the biggest hotel chain in the world.

Oyo Rooms is already the largest hotel chain in South Asia. “We will have one million rooms inventory into our fold in the near distant future. I think, it should happen in a year and a half,” Ghosh told the news agency PTI on January 15. Ghosh is the CEO, South Asia operations.

A million rooms will be about double its existing network of 450,000. Over the years, Oyo has put up its red-and-white logo in almost every other budget hotel in the country and has gone from being just an aggregator for hotel bookings to owning properties including Oyo Townhouse (budget hotels) and Oyo Living (coliving rental spaces).

While Oyo had marked its first international debut in 2018 with Dubai, it has been focusing more on China, Europe, Malaysia and Indonesia. Agarwal has brought in Ghosh to drive the fast developing South Asia operations.

In fact, the company’s fast expansion into the Chinese market saw it become one of the top 10 hotel chains in China in just one year of operations. Oyo Rooms reportedly manages more hotels in China than in India.

Oyo also has its eyes in Japan, taking stock of the large number of people that’s going to visit the country for the 2020 Olympics.

The hospitality startup had turned into a unicorn in 2018 after it received a funding of $800 million at a valuation of $5 billion. It has found backing from top investors like Softbank Group, Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed India among others.

It has the money, it has the drive, and it certainly has room to grow fast and large.

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