The Year That Was – My Story at OYO

The Year That Was – My Story at OYO

Good things often happen unexpectedly.

It all started with one LinkedIn message. And here I was, ready to start a new journey within a week; with fervor and the intent to make a difference, with energy and passion to create an impact, with hope and determination to learn and grow. Little did I know, I would achieve so much in the next one year!


Constant challenges to push my limits.

Unending opportunities to perform and grow.

Enormous relationships to cherish for life.

And a profound satisfaction to redefine the bar, again and again.

With a pounding heart and a curious mind, I found myself waiting in a conference room on day one, eager to get done with the formalities and start with the real thing. After having met the HR and going around meeting folks from different functions, I entered Airdrop. Yes, that’s the name of a room where the Expansion team resided then. Generally, folks in office float around wherever they’re comfortable at, but this was like a war room for expansion, and somewhat stealth, activities. Most of the Launch Ninjas (that’s how the Expansion team was referred to) used to be on-the-ground, so met a few of them whose base was the war room, to setup the backbone of the gravity-defying momentum in our expansion activities. The room was full of energy and conviction. Each one of us shared our inspiring stories and I could see a spark in everyone’s eyes. The calm in the room gave me a feel of the beginning of a thunderous and eventful journey. I was charged, to say the least. And, totally looking forward to join the party.

After all, the party had just begun!

Day One. Touchdown. Gurgaon.

1500+ Hotels. 21 Cities.

Barely within a week from joining, I was out on a mission. Mission Maharashtra. OYO had already established base in Mumbai and Pune. It was now time to spread further and beyond. And it gave me a sense of immense pride as well as of great responsibility to launch OYO in my hometown, Nashik, as my first city launch. And, it kept rolling from there on. OYO launched in Nashik, Nagpur, and Kolhapur along with some other smaller towns remotely, in a short span of time. Then came the opportunity to move from the West to the East. I landed in one of the oldest places in the world, Patna. The city has its own flavor and a distinct style of doing business. You have to amend your ways to become a part of it and then you will be more than welcome. Within another month, I completed my launch assignment in Patna and Ranchi, and also spent a few days in Bhopal helping the team there.

In each city, people were different, cultures were different, and the languages were varied. The mission was common. #HarJagahOYO.

Setting up a new city from the scratch, from understanding the dynamics and the cultural differences, building relationships with various stakeholders in the ecosystem, forming a team, to running the day-to-day operations, had become a norm. Along the way, I was fortunate enough to meet great people from different walks of life. Coordinating with the central team to improvise on processes and at the same time making new ones, to build a sustainable machinery that will help the company grow rapidly. There was a lot to learn from my peers and mentors.

And we said, the party has just begun!

Day Ninety. Gurgaon.

3000+ Hotels. 110+ Cities.

Experimentation and finding innovative ways to solve problems has always been in the DNA of OYO. I briefly worked on a project at the HQ, trying to solve a puzzle in the supply chain of hotels. The fun part was, starting with a clean slate and defining everything to solve a particular pain point of our hotel partners. We carried out extensive market research, defined a sample group, and setup the experiment to prove our hypothesis. After having analyzed the outcome of the experiment, we decided to do away with the project and not scale it up. This is of such importance in today’s world – knowing what to do and what not to do. Developing this skill set would be a dream for any individual as well as for any company, I’m sure.

Then came knocking another opportunity, with an even bigger responsibility. It was time to take the dream international. We were looking at South East Asia as our next playground. After a lot of deliberation, Malaysia was chosen as our launch platform for the South East Asian market. Soon, here I was, in Kuala Lumpur, with a never say die spirit. And eager to hold the OYO pin in front of the twin towers. It was customary to take a picture of a renowned location within a city, with an OYO pin (on the business card) in the foreground, to mark the launch of that city. This practice had become an unwritten rule for the launch of every new city.

I am surprised to learn that I’ve stayed in a hotel room for around 34 weeks, and Ubered my way with 500+ rides, traveling across 11 cities for work, in the last 12 months! This, I say, is learning on the job. Coming from an engineering background with a business degree, what better way to learn hospitality than becoming a customer yourself?

Fast forward to today. The party has just begun!

Day Three Sixty Five. Kuala Lumpur.

6000+ Hotels. 190+ Cities. 2 Countries.

#HarJagahOYO #SpreadTheLove

PS. As you can see from the above image, our logo also took a sharper look over the course of this year.

Meet the author / Pawan M

Pawan currently works as GM - International Expansion and is setting up the Demand function for Malaysia operations, after having launched the market recently. Prior to OYO, Pawan has been involved in entrepreneurial initiatives and has also worked at Mercedes-Benz for some years. He's a Mechanical Engineer and holds an MBA from Mannheim Business School, Germany. Pawan is passionate about entrepreneurship and travel.