Success Story Of OYO Rooms CEO Ritesh Agarwal
The teenage boy – Ritesh Agarwal is the young Founder & CEO of OYO Rooms – fastest growing Branded network of hotels offline & online.
With a current valuation of nearly 360Cr, OYO rooms does nothing out of the box but provides travellers the coolest yet cheapest efficient, young, standardized rooms with no add-ons attached to it!
Personally, Ritesh with his common-man qualities of wheatish, tall, thin, scruffy look, isn’t easy to find in a crowd. But mind you, this is also the look of the founder who puts in 16 hours a day to make his dream come true, and has been through a wild journey from as far back as he can remember, to get this ahead.
He has travelled all over the country and during such travels, discovered the problem with budget hotels. At the age of 17, he launched Oravel travels, modelled after Airbnb, which later branched out to become OYO rooms. Soon he discovered that the problem with budget hotels was bigger than just availability, so, to counter other issues, he launched OYO.
Beginning of OYO Rooms!
Ritesh was born in Orissa, Bissam Cuttack to a business class family. He completed his school from Rayagada Orissa only from Sacred Heart School. During his school time, he works in an unconventional manner as compared to others. He was always looking out for opportunities that will make him make mistakes and then learn from them. This ignites his love for software and this started the journey of Ritesh Agarwal to CEO Ritesh Agarwal.
He started to learn about programming with the books of his elder brother. During this phase, Google became his best friend and he managed to learn a lot of things in the term of programming. When he was only eight years old, he was able to generate code. Till the time he was in 10th standard, he was sure what to do with life.
The biggest twist came in his life when he joined Kota in 2009 only to quit when he got to know that there is nothing it can give him. He joined Bansal Tutorials and left coding as the second spare. This gave him time to travel and have a fun teenage year. Later on, he started to work on a book ‘Indian Engineering Colleges: A Complete Encyclopaedia of Top 100 Engineering Colleges’. This book managed to earn a lot of fame to him on Flipkart.
At the age of 16, he was a part of 240 students to participate at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research for the Asian Science Camp. This was the time when he started to venture out to meet entrepreneurs and attend conferences. Later on, he was determined to start something bigger and he returned to Delhi in 2011. He prepares for further studies with SAT which never became a part of his life. This results in spiking his interest in books about business, start-ups, and entrepreneurs.
Growth of OYO Rooms
That is when Ritesh went into the thinking mode and realized that, the biggest pain on the face of this earth while travelling was to find a good, affordable & most importantly “available” hotel to stay in but like always, most of us ended up staying in a crappy place with equally crappy staff, food, etc. which killed the whole trip.
This also reminded of the time he used to face accommodation issues during his trips. There were times when he was sold a crappy place for a huge amount and many-a-times he used find a nice place in a little amount.
This got him motivated again, to create an online yet social community to bring information about all good places together on one platform.
And as a last resort Ritesh tweaked his present business model and in 2013 re-launched Oravel as “OYO Rooms”.
OYO Rooms was nothing but an idea to create India’s largest chain of efficient, young, standardized rooms with an intention to build the coolest chain of no add-on rooms which might not have Spa, Gym etc like the star hotels but will live upto the basic standards & high expectations for prices like never before.
And to make sure the hotels met their expectations; OYO Rooms reached out to prospective hotels or a hotel owner could also reach out to them, and OYO’s team would visit the place, audit the hotel to understand the changes that would be required to standardize the property as per OYO standards, and shares the same with the hotels.
Moving on; apart from the funding, marketing, reaching out to the property owners and investors, some of the stepping stones that he faced was – a mixed reaction from friends and family around him. But nevertheless, that changed with time!
After the launch, Ritesh even got on board Bhawna Agarwal, former CEO at e-commerce firm SeventyMM for critical business advising.
This time they decided to play it smart & safe, and made sure to leave no stone unturned. They tied-up with a dozen numbers of hotels and with their help offered rooms to its customers.
And it worked exactly as planned! Things started to get better for them and to meet the demands they eventually had to increase their team of two to fifteen and then twenty-five.
In 2014; the company raised Rs. 4 Cr from Lightspeed Venture Partners (LSVP) and DSG Consumer Partners, at a pre-money valuation (valuation of a company prior to investment or financing) of Rs 14 Cr.
What motivated Ritesh even more was that, by now the company was clocking gross bookings of more than Rs.1 Cr. per month.
Since then; OYO Rooms has gone on to become India’s first technology driven network of standardized branded budget hotels and has also widely expanded its presence to 350+ hotels and more than 4000 rooms in 20 cities like Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune, Goa, Jaipur, Hyderabad, etc, and also aims to expand further to 1000 hotels in 25 cities by 2015 end.
Additionally, their OYO Rooms mobile app has been downloaded more than 160,000 times and more than 20,000 bookings have been made so far. The app ranks amongst the best-rated apps on Google Play Store and has also been listed as one of the top three apps in the ‘Travel & Local’ category.
More recently, the company has also raised another $25 Million from Lightspeed, Sequoia and others.
1. Awarded the TiE-Lumis Entrepreneurial Excellence Award (2014)
2. The first resident Asian to win ’20 Under 20’ Thiel Fellowship (2013)
3. Named one of the Top 50 Entrepreneurs by TATA First Dot Awards (2013)
4. Finalist of Global Student Entrepreneurship Awards-India
5. Named one of the ‘8 Hottest Teenage Start Up Founders in the World’ by Business Insider (2013)
6. World’s Youngest CEO at 17(recognized at 16)