SoftBank-backed hotel brand Oyo is launching operations in Dubai by the next month. The Gurugram-based company has already hired Manu Midha to head its Middle East business. It’s currently hiring Oyo captain (AGM) in the largest city of UAE.
The role involves driving business, leading operations and managing on-ground staffs. Initially, Oyo plans to test Middle East waters with 5 to 7 properties in Dubai. Notably, this would be the second major overseas market expansion by Oyo.
In 2016, it set up operations in Malaysia followed by Nepal launch in April last year.
Midha, an IIT plus IIM alumnus, has been based out of Dubai for the past three years. He led Infibeam’s – Buildabazaar- a SaaS-based e-commerce enabler operations in the Middle East.
According to his LinkedIn profile, besides Oyo, he’s also heading electronic category for ‘Amazon of Middle East’ – Souq.com.
After raking in about $250 million from SoftBank and Hero Enterprise, Oyo pivoted from aggregation to a pure-play franchise model in December last year. Presently, OYO claims to operate 8,500 hotels and 70,000 rooms in more than 230 cities in India.
Launched in 2013 by Ritesh Agarwal, Oyo has so far secured about $442 million from likes of Softbank and China Lodging Group. The company also launched its new vertical Oyo Townhouse for catering the premium mid-market segment in April last year.
Importantly, with the franchise model, Oyo also ended its rivalry with MakeMyTrip. Consequently, the former inventories are now listed on the Ctrip-backed horizontal travel platform.
Following the truce, the Rajesh Magow-led company is also exploring investment for a strategic stake in Oyo. Besides Oyo, another SoftBank funded ride-hailing Unicorn Ola has been testing the overseas market with operations in Australia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
While we are clueless about the performance of indigenous startups in their overseas operations, the appetite and aspiration of Indian consumer product companies appear lofty and ambitious.
In the near future, it would be exciting to watch how SoftBank’s portfolio companies are scaling in global markets.