1993-born Ritesh Agarwal stirred up the hospitality industry with his OYO Rooms becoming the largest hotel network in India, offering more than 100,000 rooms across more than 230 cities. Lack of a college education being no bar for him, he founded what has today become the largest aggregator of hotel rooms, bed-and-breakfasts and homestays, and OYO itself is worth $5 billion.
Often for a lot of travellers, a room that looks good on a hotel website often turns out to be far less glamorous in reality, leading to disappointment and frustration. OYO became a platform that delivered on its promise of offering branded hotels with no nasty surprises for guests. Starting with only one property in Gurgaon in 2013, OYO has over 8500 properties under its umbrella today.
It was while Ritesh was travelling across India on a budget and staying at some appalling accommodations did the idea for OYO strike him. He realised that a trustworthy database of affordable quality hotels and guest houses was something India needed. He also learned that aggregating a list of hotels on a website wasn’t enough – they’d need to be repaired and done up so they can be brought up to par with other hotels of the same class. Ritesh even spent a year doing all sorts of jobs at a hotel, which gave him a deeper understanding of how the hospitality industry works.
In 2013 Ritesh received a $100,000 fellowship from the founder of PayPal, Peter Thiel, who subsidises students who drop out from college to start their businesses. Ritesh got his big break in 2015 when he got $100 million in venture capital from Silicon Valley’s Sequoia Capital and Japan’s SoftBank Group Corporation. OYO is now the largest accommodation chain in South Asia, and it is now venturing into the Chinese and UK markets.
Ritesh Agarwal is India’s youngest millionaire, and being only in his mid twenties, he is one of the youngest entrepreneurs in India. His success story is indeed a tale to tell, and that’s what makes him our Xpert on entrepreneurship. Learn about his journey, his experiences and so much more only on Xpert!
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