Rocket Internet backs online budget hotels booking startup ZenRooms
ZenRooms, an online venture for booking branded budget hotel rooms, has raised an undisclosed amount in funding from a joint venture of Germany's Rocket Internet and Qatar-based telecom operator Ooredoo.
The venture, run by Singapore-based Zen Rooms Hospitality Pte Ltd, had in June raised $1 million from former Kingfisher Airlines CEO Sanjay Aggarwal and Kaneswaran Avili, former chief commercial officer of SpiceJet.
The company was floated by Vinay Gupta, Kiren Tanna and Madhur Yadav. Gupta is the founder of online travel agency Via.com. Tanna previously worked with internet startup incubator and investor Rocket Internet Asia Pacific. Yadav is a former head of digital marketing for Facebook across Asia Pacific.
The company claims to be present in 200 locations with 1,000 rooms available across Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore. It is available on desktop and mobile web and also plans to launch an app soon.
"At ZenRooms our mission is to provide the best way to have a reliable budget hotel experience, across the region, at the best price," said Tanna, who is also global managing director at the startup.
Hanno Stegmann, CEO of Asia Pacific Internet Group (APACIG), the Rocket Internet-Ooredoo JV, said that the size of the Southeast Asia budget accommodation market is $10 billion a year and that ZenRooms is the largest launch for the group this year.
Launched in the second quarter of 2014, APACIG has 14 e-commerce and online marketplace companies in its portfolio. It started building its India portfolio with a $4.5 million investment in a printing solutions startup incubated by Rocket Internet, PrintVenue.
Rocket Internet's core model is to replicate successful global internet businesses in emerging markets outside China with rigorous marketing. It brings in industry executives, gives them stakes in its companies and designates them as co-founder/founder/CEO. Most of its portfolio companies have multi-geography operations.
The market for aggregating budget hotels with a new brand for online booking has been gaining traction with Oyo Rooms and Zo Rooms operating in the country. ZenRooms goes a step further to target a wider Asian market.
Oyo Rooms is most funded startup in this segment. Among other hotel aggregators, QiK Rooms Pvt Ltd, which operates under the QiK Stay brand, last month secured seed funding of $250,000 (Rs 1.62 crore) from venture capital firm I.D. Enablers Pvt Ltd.