When we started RedDoorz we were pitted against a few of the BIG companies in our space which had the backing of the most-known names in the internet industry. It was a typical David vs Goliath type of story. As expected, the beginning of our journey was difficult and humble– but our team and investors stood rock solid behind us as we outperformed our competition and we raised capital from the best people in the industry. 

RedDoorz has been adding real value in the ecosystem, raised millions of dollars for the local economies,  created hundreds of jobs across the region, and supported scores of SMEs and hotel partners in their own business journey. We couldn’t be more proud of the role we play in this vibrant ecosystem- which in turn is helping drive forward the future of SE Asia as a region.

We couldn’t get to where we are today- one of the largest hospitality networks in the region and the leading hotel brand in Indonesia- without being true to ourselves.

Some of the best minds in the VC/ investor circles, team members, hotel partners are now part of our extended family and I thank them for their continued contribution and hard work. We might not always be right and some of our best learnings have come from mistakes along the way- but we always insist on being honest, no matter what. 

Then comes along COVID–19. It wreaks havoc in everyone’s daily lives and routines, disrupts our business and entire industries. We move fast – make changes to adapt our business model, cut costs, renegotiate contracts and implement salary cuts while also making difficult decisions to let go of some of our employees as many roles become redundant and our customers- travelers of all sorts- can’t travel anymore. We remain honest and transparent as always about all of these measures. We keep our teams informed at each stage in the process and collect valuable feedback that makes our internal communications during this time a constructive, recovery-focused dialogue. 

We also do a sold-out seminar with TechInAsia explaining the rationale and the steps we have taken. We are not obligated to do this but we want to share with the startup community at large what we are doing and why we are implementing all these measures – perhaps it can bring inspiration and advice for other companies going through similar situations.

We do what we need to do to be recovery ready and to ensure we can be one of the first to recover when things get better. We remain focused on our mission- and continue to remain positive about the outlook!

The people closest to us also know that we’ve tried to keep ourselves out of the press limelight as much as possible during the early days of RedDoorz.

As our company grew larger, press attention came naturally and we’ve always been happy to share our learnings with the community at large as we felt it was one of the ways we could give back. 

We enjoy good media relations with most of the reputable media outlets in our region and we have collaborated with many of them during the last few years. 

However, there are a few of them with dubious credentials, perhaps unlicensed for the region who do injustice to our start-up ecosystem by using the sensational, tabloid type of reporting disguised as investigative journalism. Most of you will surely recognize these outlets by the click-baiting tactics used, a frustrated, passive-aggressive tone underlying all their stories, and generally badly researched facts and information- many of which are no more than fantasies and rumors. 

RedDoorz has been recently covered by one of these “industry” pieces which highlight many incorrect facts about our company and has several glaring omissions, which I will share below:

  1. While these journalists claim that the “official” objective of their story was to highlight the impact of COVID-19 for Southeast Asia budget hotel operators, it certainly seems the real objective was to sensationalize the more dramatic angle of layoffs- an angle which certainly feels taken completely out of the global pandemic reality where companies need to move fast and decisive in rolling out difficult measures to ensure survival and having a good position to recover once this crisis is over.
    – an industry-piece which doesn’t mention the closing down of one of the most prominent startups in our vertical (e.g. Airy Rooms, an affiliate of Traveloka) is not really an industry-piece; it’s merely a badly written, incomplete, totally subjective and unbalanced personal opinion/ vendetta
  2. To us it almost looks like a desperate, cheap click-baiting tactic to generate eyeballs fast; real journalism couldn’t be more different.
    – Just as an example of the lack of factual reporting, RedDoorz has been operating successfully in the Singapore market almost since we started 5 years ago and currently we have more than 13 properties with 500 rooms in this market. The reporter seems to think otherwise and has not even done a basic Google search. This is just one of the few factual errors in this story.
  3. It is really unfortunate that the more positive angles of the current situation have been overshadowed by a tabloid-style, half-researched biased story. We’ve done some great work during this COVID-19 crisis including partnering with SE Asia governments in their pursuit to fight this pandemic. 
  4. There is a bunch of other half facts, allegations and nonsense that we don’t feel the need to give them any more clarifications.  They offered to carry these clarifications but in our opinion  the damage they have caused us especially to the uninformed reader is done. Phrases like “ too big for their boots”,  “ Higher they go the harder they fall” and “murky future” headlines cannot be reversed. We know it and they know it ( and count on it to push their agenda)

There is enough happening around us and we want to avoid getting bogged down by unnecessary nonsense and ‘journalistic’ practices which are best left to socialite tabloids and the gutter press- but I believe that this issue needs to be addressed. 

I truly believe in the role that good bona fide press can play in holding entrepreneurs and companies accountable.  Reporting that showcases real facts while encouraging constructive dialogue- all held to a high-quality standard and scrutiny by independent or statutory bodies is required. But the unaccountable gutter press has to go! And others ‘publications’ who are trying to emulate these practices have to be discouraged.  Investors, SPRING, EDBI, BKPM, and various other government bodies in the region are trying very hard to encourage a nascent startup ecosystem.  And they are succeeding!  We don’t want theirs and ours (the start-ups) efforts to be undermined for shallow, petty interests that don’t mean much during this difficult time.

Best regards,
Amit Saberwal
Founder & CEO RedDoorz

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