An Indian businessman, entrepreneur, investor, founder and Chief Executive Officer of OYO rooms. The person who has achieved excellence in many fellowship programs. According to Hurun Rich List 2020 his net worth was estimated to be approximately $1.1 billion. At the age of 24 he was claimed to be the youngest self-made billionaire after Kylie Jenner, in the world!
He is from a very small town called Bissam Cuttack. He had a very tough childhood because of the extremist’s movement at that portion of his life. Not being a usual kid, he felt depressed at many intervals in this childhood. He was shy and introvert as a kid but had gained keen interest in programming and computers.
During his schooling period, there came a time when he heard the magical whisper 'Entrepreneur.' It flowed through her sister who was successful in her career. She was an inspirational source for him. His teacher once asked, “What do you all aspire to become in life?". All of you must have heard the echo of Doctor, Engineer and Lawyer but this kid wanted to become an Entrepreneur. Everyone laughed at him but no matter how many stones the world throws back at you, one should always be determined enough to build a castle with it and with this motivation Ritesh sure did build his own castle!
Travelling throughout the northern part and coastal areas, he spent his four months at 100 places in the country and at almost 200 properties. He used to write emails to the hotels to let him stay for free with a commitment of making something good of that place. Who knew that 'Something' will make him a 'Someone ' that day? He graduated from St. Johns Senior Secondary School and moved to Delhi in 2011 for preparing for his IIT entrance exams. He read a lot about entrepreneurs, startups and business. Ritesh joined the University of London course at Indian business school. But after 3 days of joining he could not control his craving to kick start his own adventure, his own venture! So, he took many leaves to work on the project and subsequently, he never went back. Ritesh always felt that the budget in India does not meet the very basic needs of a middle-class traveler. He realized that the majority of people use only 10 % of the total hotels in the entire country whereas the 90% are almost left unused. Realizing that he has such a wide market of 90% of hotels, he started capitalizing this opportunity and started his first venture in 2012 and called it Oravel stays. It was an accelerator of bed and breakfast stay across India.
After many rejections, he got motivated again to create an online social community to bring information about all good places together at one platform. In 2013 he relaunched Oravel as Oyo Rooms. The name Oyo means “on your own”, nothing but an idea to create India’s largest chain of efficient, young and standardized budget rooms. The rise of OYO began in 2013, he was selected for Thiel Fellowship and received $100,000 from Peter Theil, the co-founder of PayPal and an early investor of FaceBook. In August, 2014 Oyo received its first Series A funding. In July, 2015, Oyo bagged $100 million in Series C Round of funding from Softbank. By 2016, OYO made the 1million check-in mark and started exploring Asian markets like Nepal and Malaysia. In 2018, the company acquired Weddingz.in, a Mumbai-based online marketplace for wedding venues and vendors marked its entry into the $40 billion wedding industry. He is one of the best example of how to reach your goals and become a billionaire by working day and night towards your dreams.
To climb that steep uphill, he failed six times before succeeding in his OYO venture.
Ritesh says, “If you have not failed, you have not hardened yourself.”
Due to covid-19, there’s another challenge for the company. SoftBank owns almost half of Oyo. Oyo’s founder had to stop the expansion plans as Softbank has incurred huge losses in Chinese market. Also, there are many complaints that company’s technology is not fully developed affecting the number of bookings and many hoteliers haven’t received the guaranteed services from OYO even after accepting minimum income. Let us see how Ritesh Agarwal and his company tackles this situation.
Waves are said to be inspiring not because they rise and fall back but after every fall they never fail to rise back. His never giving up attitude led him to achieve all his dreams that he always admired. We are lucky enough to live in a generation where it does not matter how old you are. If you really strive to make a positive difference, there will always be a significant amount of capital chasing you!