If the Samwer Brothers’ Rocket Internet has a blueprint, it goes something like this: Take a proven business model, usually originating from the U.S., and apply it aggressively to new markets. But that blueprint isn’t immune to being copied in itself.
Today, HotelQuickly, a Hong Kong-headquarted startup whose team is comprised of a number of ex-Rocket Internet executives, launches its last-minute hotel booking app which not only bears more than a little resemblance to San Francisco-based HotelTonight, but appears to borrow heavily from the Samwer brothers’ playbook, too.
￼Available on iOS and Android — and launching in Bangkok, Bali, Hong Kong, and Singapore, from the get-go — the HotelQuickly app lets users book “last minute” hotel rooms (up to 2am that night) at heavily discounted prices. Specifically, the app presents a list of up to 6 curated offers, based on a user’s location and divided into 3 categories (prime, design and comfy), which are only available for booking on the same day.
Meanwhile, the draw for hotels who partner with HotelQuickly is that it offers an efficient way to shift spare inventory without eating into their existing market or diminishing their brand via overt discounting. At launch, the startup is partnering with over 100 hotels in the region, including the likes of Hotel LKF by Rhombus, Ovolo ￼Group, and East Hotel, with more to be added over the coming months.
So, yes, very HotelTonight. And very Rocket Internet.
Of HotelQuickly’s five co-founders, two are Rocket alumni. Christian Mischler (COO) previously held the role of COO at Rocket Internet’s Foodpanda, the online food delivery platform, and Raphael Cohen (CSO) was Managing Director of both Foodpanda Vietnam and DropGifts Singapore. Its other co-founders are Tomas Laboutka (CEO), Michal Juhas (CTO), and Mario Peng (CFO), while in total I’m told that 9 members of HotelQuickly’s 30-person team are ex-Rocket Internet.
Funding-wise, until as recently as last week, HotelQuickly was bootstrapped at great cost, says co-founder and CEO Laboutka. It’s in the process of closing an A round, however, thus far raising $500,000 from various investors in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
In comparison, HotelTonight has raised a hefty $36 million since it was founded in 2010, most recently closing a C round last June. However, it operates in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Europe only, so for the time being, HotelQuickly gets a head start in Asia, although it already has at least one local competitor in the form of CheckInTonight.