25-year-old founder will spend US$2 bil to raise stake in Oyo

Pedestrians and traffic move past buildings in Mumbai, India. (Bloomberg pic)

BANGALORE: Oyo Hotels and Homes founder Ritesh Agarwal has agreed to invest US$2 billion to increase his stake in the SoftBank-backed Indian lodgings startup.

Agarwal will buy shares from existing investors Lightspeed Venture Partners and Sequoia India, which will remain backers of the startup, the company said in a statement. The founder will carry out the transaction through an entity called RA Hospitality Holdings (Cayman), it said.

Oyo, which helps users book hotel rooms from India and China to the UK and US, grew revenue more than four times in June compared with a year earlier. It has a million rooms under its brand, of which more than 200,000 are in India.

Agarwal founded the startup in his teens after dropping out of college and travelling around India on a shoestring budget. The wild, erratic standards for hotels and guest houses provided the basis for the start of the online service, and the brand now aims to provide travellers a consistent experience.

“It is a very exciting time for OYO right now as we make great living spaces come alive across all corners of the world from Texas to Tokyo,” Agarwal, who is also chief executive officer, said in the statement. The deal is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.