Ritesh Agarwal, the founder and CEO of OYO Hotels & Rooms is known as one of India’s most celebrated young entrepreneurs. He comes from a middle-class business family in a small village, Odisha and led an ordinary life. However, his name, Ritesh Agarwal has earned attention from other entrepreneurs around the world. Read on to know his story.
Ritesh Agarwal first founded his company Oravel Travels, now (OYO Hotels & Rooms) at the age of 18
Ritesh Agarwal is a college dropout. While the other siblings went to engineering school and business school. At the age of 13, he started selling SIM cards for mobile phones to other stores for survival. Without a stable career, and was kicked out from his apartment, he then moved to another town and saw an opportunity to venture hospitality industry.
He noticed that a nearby hotel in the town was empty a lot of the time and the owner wasn’t making much money. He then met the owner and offered to make a drastic change. He made a lot of changes in the hotel, took some pictures and put them on internet. The hotel went from empty to full! The first hotel was a success and he was planning to do more.
He was frustrated by the lack of cheap and clean accommodations
Ritesh Agarwal started a budget hotel called Oravel Stays in the city of Gurgaon which later renamed as OYO Hotels & Homes in May 2013. The idea to start a budget hotel, Oravel Stays popped up when he was often frustrated by the lack of cheap and clean accommodations. He traveled around the country for three months and staying with some of his former Oravel clients to study the hotel industry. He was thinking whether his idea will become something big or not. He then got the idea to start smaller budget hotels.
OYO Hotels & Rooms has grown globally with having budget hotels in 18,000 locations in India
Ritesh Agarwal has successfully grown the brand globally at the age of 25. OYO hotels are available in 18,000 locations is India – making India as the biggest market followed by China with nearly 13,000 OYO hotels across 38 Chinese cities. OYO hotels can also be found in the United Kingdom, Indonesia, the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates. He is planning to expand OYO’s empire in the US.
Ritesh Agarwal raised 1 billion dollars at the age of 24
In 2016, Ritesh expanded the business model. From just updating and reselling available hotel rooms, OYO rebrand the hotels entirely as OYO properties and sign on affiliates through franchise and lease agreements. He leased the first OYO which is in the city of Gurgaon and everything started to move quickly.
In the first few months, they were adding one to two hotels a day. To date, the company has more than 43,000 hotels in 800 cities and employs 20,000 people.
OYO Hotels & Rooms also acquires capital from well-known investors
OYO gets capitals from investors include SoftBank, Sequoia Capital India, Airbnb and Greenoaks Capital. It is estimated to be valued at $10 billion. In 2019, OYO raised another $1.5 billion including $700 million investment from Ritesh Argawal who now owns a 30% stake in the company. He also bought $1.3 billion worth of existing shares from investors Lightspeed Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital.
OYO have hosted over 50 million guests to date
90% of OYO’s business comes from repeat customers and word-of-mouth referrals. OYO as a budget hotel rooms has standardised amenities such as free WiFi, flatscreen TVs, quality linens and branded toiletries. It is claimed that OYO have hosted over 50 million guests so far. OYO Hotels & Rooms is the world’s third-largest and fastest-growing hospitality chain of leased and franchised hotels, homes and living spaces.
Ritesh Agarwal achieved everything in just 6 years!
As the youngest self-made entrepreneurs cum billionaire, his net worth was estimated at $1 billion in 2019. This is the story of a dropped out college boy who went against all the social norms to fulfill his entrepreneurial dreams and become the youngest successful entrepreneur in India. Ritesh was also the first Asian to graduate as a Thiel Fellow receiving a grant of $100,000. Such an amazing youth icon.