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Asia Venture Capital Startups Travel

India’s Oyo, Flush With SoftBank Money, Starts U.S. Expansion

India’s Oyo Hotels and Homes, a $5 billion travel startup backed by SoftBank’s Vision Fund and Sequoia Capital, has started to expand into the U.S., The Information has learned. The company, which is one of India’s largest private tech companies, manages a network of budget hotels in India, Indonesia and China, and faces a significant test moving into the more mature U.S. hospitality market, where its brand is largely unknown.

Five-year-old Oyo tries to win contracts or lease agreements from hotel owners by promising building upgrades, lower fees and more customers than traditional hotel brands might offer. In the U.S., as Oyo looks to take on budget chains like Best Western, Super 8 and Choice Hotels, the company has started to renovate motels and no-frills hotels around Texas, said a person familiar with the matter. Its U.S. workforce has grown to 30, mostly in Dallas, and it is trying to hire dozens more each week, added a person briefed on the matter. If a test in Texas goes well, Oyo wants to add 2,000 hotels—including small, urban hotels—in dozens of states to its network this year.

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If successful, Oyo could challenge companies trying to build new hospitality brands by converting apartments into rooms for business travelers.