Start-up RedDoorz raises $97m, eyes new tech hub in Vietnam

Hospitality start-up RedDoorz has raised US$70 million (S$97 million) in its ongoing Series C funding round, the company announced yesterday.

This injection of funds follows the Singapore-based budget hotel management and booking platform's US$45 million Series B round, which closed in April. The firm has raised around US$140 million to date.

A significant portion of the latest funds raised will be used to build a second technology hub in Vietnam, which will complement RedDoorz's current regional tech hub in India. It also intends to ramp up its hotel staff and quality training programmes across its properties.

The funds will also be used to improve the brand's presence in its existing markets, RedDoorz founder and chief executive Amit Saberwal told The Straits Times yesterday.

Vietnam is the company's newest market, having entered the country in July last year, and accounts for about 10 per cent of its business, he said. The new hub in Vietnam will be its Asean hub, which will allow the company to localise its business further.

Developing the firm's technology, which includes artificial intelligence-based pricing engines, is paramount to the company's continued development, since the budget hospitality space cannot be a people-dependent business, he added.

The start-up's Series C round was led by Singapore-based growth equity investment firm Asia Partners, which was launched in June.

Other participants included new investors Rakuten Capital, the corporate venture arm of Japanese giant Rakuten Group, and the Mirae Asset-Naver Asia Growth Fund, a joint venture between Seoul-based Mirae Financial Group and Internet giant Naver Corporation.

Existing investors Qiming Venture Partners and World Bank Group's private investment arm, International Finance Corporation, were also on board the financing round.

Mr Saberwal said the company is looking at countries such as Thailand and Malaysia to move into, adding: "All of South-east Asia is our playground".

It is unlikely that the company will move into Europe or China as it is not familiar with these markets, he said. "You have to understand your market, know where you can play, and that's part of our secret sauce."

While the company is not profitable at this point, Mr Saberwal said: "This is not the time to look at profit stability, this is the time to look at growth, but we've always been within touching distance of profitability."

He believes the company's execution has been the key factor in its growth thus far. "We are not building a business on an airy-fairy concept, we are building it based on a real operational problem and executing towards that."

RedDoorz is the first company in the portfolio of Asia Partners, whose co-founders include gaming and e-commerce firm Sea's former group president Nicholas Nash and Mr Oliver Rippel, a former senior executive of South Africa-headquartered Internet firm and technology investor Naspers.

Founded in 2015, RedDoorz currently operates in 80 cities across Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines. Apart from operating a budget hotel booking platform, it directly runs and leases hotels. Its investors include 500 Startups, Jungle Ventures and Susquehanna International Group's Asia Investment Fund.