Ritesh Agarwal, the founder of OYO rooms is one of the most successful young entrepreneurs in India today. He has single-handedly transformed the hotel business in India. He is currently valued at 360 crore rupees. OYO rooms provide hotel guests with standardized, young, and efficient rooms with no additional costs. So how did he come to realize his dream? Let us take a look.
It is surprising how one of the successful Indian entrepreneurs had such humble beginnings. Ritesh Agarwal comes from a middle-class family in Orissa. He was born on 16th November 1993 and completed his schooling in his home state, from the Sacred Heart School in Rayagada. Although he came from a family of businesspeople, prior to founding OYO, their financial condition was not so good.
He borrowed a programming book from his older brother and managed to learn programming languages. Being a coder since the time he was just 8 years of age, he fell in love with the subject and when he was in the 10th standard, he made up his mind that he would build a career on coding.
At this young age, Ritesh Agarwal started to write a book called ‘Indian Engineering Colleges: A Complete Encyclopaedia of Top 100 Engineering Colleges’. This book quickly became a bestseller on Flipkart and sold out in some time. At the tender age of 16, Ritesh was selected for the Asian Science Camp at TIFR, Mumbai.
While preparing for his IIT exams in Kota, Rajashthan, he would often visit Delhi on the weekends. He used to stay at budget hotels, personally attending customer calls to learn about what the customers expect from these hotels. He discovered that these hotels failed to provide some basic amenities to their guests and he decided to change that.
The journey of one of the top entrepreneurs in India began early, at the young age of 17. In 2011, Ritesh shifted to Delhi with the dream of starting a business of his won and also to prepare for his SAT exams so that he could go to the USA for higher studies. But his dream of SAT never materialized and he ended up reading about businesses, startups, entrepreneurs, and AirBnB.
He later joined the University of London at its India campus, but just after 3 days, he started feeling restless and so he took a leave to work on a project of his and never went back to that university again.
He dropped out of college in 2012 and launched Oravel Stays Pvt. Ltd. He intended to provide customers with a convenient platform where they can find listings of budget hotels and book them easily. Having stayed at so many hotels himself, he realized that the budget hotel sector was unpredictable.
On his way to becoming one of the top 10 entrepreneurs in India, he managed to secure a Rs 30 lakhs funding from VentureNursery, a firm where he gathered a group of investors to support start-ups. With sufficient funds at his disposal, Ritesh started building his dreams and presented his startup idea at Thiel Fellowship, where he managed to feature among the top ten, receiving a sum of $100,000. He also received guidance from Peter Thiel to create his own start-up company.
With this newfound inspiration, Ritesh started working harder than ever before but his business wasn't doing well. He even got Manish Sinha of Cinnamon Stays on the board, but even his presence did not help the company and he eventually quit. Even the AirBnB model did not work out and the business just wasn’t generating enough revenue.
The Beginning of OYO Rooms
This period of failure was hard on Ritesh, but being one of the best young entrepreneurs in India he wasn't just going to give up. He entered his thinking zone and came to the realization that the budget hotel industry was in shambles and they provided the guests with below-par food, services, and accommodation. He recalled how during his travels he has had to stay in such places.
So in 2013, he re-launched Oravel Stays, under the new brand name OYO Rooms. His idea was to create a large chain of standardized and efficient rooms at budget hotels that might not have the luxury amenities of a five-star hotel but offered all basic services at affordable rates. In spite of mixed reactions from friends and family, he received a lot of success, partnering with several budget hotels where the customers can book rooms through the OYO app and website. Since then, he hasn't looked back and today he is one of the top entrepreneurs of in India.
The journey of Ritesh Agarwal is an inspiring one, and it tells us that if we never stop pursuing our dreams, one day success would come knocking at our doors.