SG’s ZEN Rooms closes additional investment from South Korea’s Yanolja

Singapore-headquartered budget hotel chain ZEN Rooms has secured an undisclosed amount of additional investment from South Korean motel operator and existing backer Yanolja, the former said in a statement.

Yanolja, which is backed by Singapore wealth fund GIC Pte and Booking Holdings, also announced that it has upped its holding in ZEN Rooms by purchasing an additional stake in the company from fellow backer Asia Internet Holdings, a joint venture of Rocket Internet and Ooredoo Telecom.

Yanolja invested $15 million in ZEN Rooms last year for a non-controlling stake, along with the rights to fully acquire the business. Other investors on the Singapore-based startup’s cap table include Korean firms Redbadge Pacific and SBI Investment Korea.

ZEN Rooms co-founder and CEO Nathan Boublil said the partnership with Yanolja and Booking Holdings will enable the startup to create “the first full-service budget & mid-range hospitality group in SEA, able to deploy world-class technology infrastructure in IoT R&D, automation, hardware and software to all hotels in Southeast Asia.”

Founded in 2015, ZEN Rooms operates in the budget hotel space and targets to bring operational and technological efficiency to an estimated 2 million independent economy rooms in the region.

In this space, the company sees stiff competition from Qiming Venture Partners-backed RedDoorz, which recently raised a $45 million Series B funding round, and SoftBank-backed Indian unicorn OYO, which is eyeing a greater presence in Southeast Asia.

As of today, ZEN Rooms, which also counts Rocket Internet as an investor, claims to have 13,000 rooms under franchise. The startup said it became the largest hotel chain in the Philippines in the second quarter of this year with 5,500 rooms under franchise.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.