Rocket Internet made its first foray into hotel websites today with the launch of Lagos, Nigeria based Jovago.
Jovago is a standard hotel booking site. It features listings from 140,000 hotels around the world, with a focus on Africa. Users enter their room requirements — location, date, number of occupants — and the engine yields relevant results, with rates and TripAdvisor reviews. There are no booking fees, and travelers can either pay at the hotel or online.
Jovago emerged out of Africa Internet Holding, a large organization dedicated to promoting e-commerce ventures on the continent. The African market for Internet and e-commerce is still small, but growing quickly, and AIH said its goal is to accelerate this shift and “boost the evolution of the African online culture.” Rocket Internet is an investor in the holding.
Rocket Internet is a well-known incubator program and fund based in Berlin that helps build e-commerce companies in emerging markets. The firm takes established business models, like Amazon and Zappos, and sets up clone versions in Europe, Africa, Asia, the MIddle East, Australia, and Latin America. Its strategy is to raise millions upon millions of dollars for these companies until they become the dominant player in the region. Its portfolio companies have attracted over $800 million in financing in the past year alone.
Jeremy Hodara, managing director of Africa Internet Holding, told VentureBeat that this is Rocket Internet and AIH’s first hotel site.
“People have to visit to hotels or use travel agencies with long processes because Africa lacks convenient solutions for booking accommodations,” he said. “Jovago provides full and reliable information about the best hotels in the city you’re going to. Security is a highly important topic here. We have people checking our hotels, taking pictures and ensuring high quality standards in Nigeria.”
Jovago was founded four months ago. Rocket/AIH’s other startups have raised large rounds of funding (particularly for Africa) and I expect Jovago will soon do the same. ‘Amazon of Africa’ Jumia raised $26 million earlier this year, and online fashion retailer Zando and Hellofood have both raised over $20 million.