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Ola, Oyo watching geopolitics closely as they grow globally

Two of India's global startups, Ola and Oyo, are cautious about the geopolitical trends while they battle to overcome the challenges created by Covid-19.

Speaking at the 47th National Management Convention of the All India Management Association (AIMA) on Tuesday, the founders of the two companies explained the global and economic situation of their businesses.

Ritesh Agarwal, Founder and Group CEO, OYO Hotels & Homes, whose company has investors from different parts of the world, including China, and has business in China, is conscious about the perception of the company in both India and China.

"Geopolitics is a big risk to global companies. Various countries are enacting policies that project companies as diplomatic enablers," Agarwal said.

His strategy to deal with the challenge is to be local in branding, staffing and culture while keeping the tech global.

Agarwal is confident that Indians see Oyo as a product developed in India.

"However, we are watching the situation closely," he said.

Bhavish Aggarwal, Co-Founder & CEO, Ola sees the trend of digital companies getting embroiled in geopolitical tussles as an opportunity.

"Global opportunities are increasing for Indian companies because Indians enjoy more trust and respect overseas," he said.

On the impact of Covid, the Oyo CEO said that he had designed the business for 10 per cent occupancy in a crisis but not for zero per cent occupancy.

However, he sees businesses coming back faster than expected.

According to him, Oyo hotels and homes in India are back to 40 per cent occupancy, but the occupancy in the "leisure" states of India, such as Himachal Pradesh, remains 20-25 per cent because of restrictions on entry.

"Small is the new big after Covid," Agarwal said, adding that occupancy is back considerably in Europe.

According to him, people are shunning large hotels and opting for boutique hotels and vacation homes.

Also, the smaller hotels now need technology platforms like Oyo more than ever before, and Oyo had added 40,000 rooms each month during the past three months, he claimed.

The Ola Co-Founder is also positive about Covid's impact on the transport business.

"Covid has thrown up more opportunities than constraints for the long term," he said, adding that people are likely to switch from public transport to personal mobility and Ola would be ready with electric cars for that.

He claimed that cab travel is returning quickly after unlocking, and office travel is back to 80 per cent of the normal volume in Mumbai.

Ola wants to list its shares on the stock exchanges in the medium term, while the Oyo CEO said that its shareholders are not looking to sell in the current environment and they are with the company for the long haul..