Ritesh Agarwal Success Story of CEO & Founder of OYO

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From a college dropout to becoming a billionaire, the success story of Ritesh Agarwal is nothing short of inspirational. Today OYO is a recognized brand, offering the world’s most affordable hotel chains, with over 1 million rooms and  43,000 properties across 80 countries in about 800 cities. It was estimated that in 2019, OYO had approximately 8000 Indian and South Asian employees and over 17000 employees globally. 

OYO, or Oyo Hotels & Homes, is a multinational hospitality chain of franchised and leased hotels, homes, and living spaces. Ritesh Agarwal founded OYO in 2012. The visionary OYO Founder, initially named this venture Oravel Stays. Oravel Stays received a USD 100000 grant from the Theil Fellowship, a two-year program from Peter Theil. With a strong start, OYO went on to become one of the most successful startups and inspired millions of entrepreneurs to come forward with their unique ideas. 

 Ritesh Agarwal education 

The founder and CEO of OYO hails from Titilagarh, Odisha, where his family ran a shop. He graduated from Sacred Heart School before moving to Delhi. At 10, Ritesh had already started coding and was quite a tech freak. At age 16, he attended an Asian Camp at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. Later he studied at the St Johns Senior Secondary School before moving to Delhi. Shortly after moving to Delhi in 2011 for college, he dropped out and went on to start an Airbnb equivalent with the name Oravel Stays. When he won the Theil Fellowship in 2013, he was the first Indian to join.

The start of OYO

Ritesh had been a travel enthusiast his entire life. On his travel expeditions through India, he realized there is a need for affordable hotels with decent service in our country. The hotels with good services and amenities were way out of budget and the affordable hotels lacked basic amenities like wi-fi, AC, and breakfast facilities. 

This observation led him to think of a creative solution to this problem. His leaning toward technology and his keenness toward traveling pushed him to find a solution for this inconvenience. He had some difficulties in his initial days as he was quite new to entrepreneurship, but he self-taught himself and successfully pitched his plan to investors. He received funding of USD 100000 from the Theil Fellowship which helped him venture down the entrepreneurial journey. 

Ritesh Aggarwal revealed later, after struggling with understanding the intricacies of his business he went on to do detailed research on the market. He traveled across India and visited numerous hotels to understand the requirements, lack, and appeal of each one of them. After making close observations, he implemented those in his venture.

Further Success 

In May of 2013, OYO Rooms was launched. The company raised 1 billion by September of 2018.OYO Rooms operates several brands for its properties and services. In March of 2015, OYO Rooms attracted USD 25 million in funding. The very next month, the OYO app was launched. This launch was a benchmark in OYO’s journey as it initiated rapid expansion. In July of the same year, the company secured USD 100 million in series C funding from SoftBank. OYO Rooms achieved the milestone of 1 million check-ins in 2016. After this, the company expanded its reach to Malaysia. In 2017, Ritesh and his team ventured into the Nepal market and within a year they went global by establishing the presence of OYO in the UK, UAE, Dubai, China, Indonesia, and Singapore. This step gave OYO the unicorn status. By 2019, OYO had expanded over to 500 cities globally. Their products and services include OYO Townhouse, OYO Home, OYO Vacation Homes, SilverKey, Capital O, Palette, Collection O, OYO LIFE, OYO 360, and YO! HELP. OYO acquired the team of Qlik Pass in 2016 and Novascotia Boutique Homes, a Chennai-based service apartment operator in 2018. 

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At age 22, he was the first Asian to win the ‘20Under 20’ Thiel Fellowship. He was featured in the list of top 50 Entrepreneurs by TATA First Dot Awards in 2013. Ritesh Agarwal was awarded the TiE-Lumis Entrepreneurial Excellence Award in 2014.  Ritesh won the Business World Young Entrepreneur Award among other awards and accolades. He was featured in the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list and Forbes 30 Under 30 for Consumer Technology in 2016. In 2023 Ritesh became the youngest shark to feature in Shark Tank India. 

Ritesh Agarwal net worth

Ritesh Agarwal purchased USD 2 Billion shares in the company in July of 2019. This move tripled his stake in the company. Ritesh Agarwal’s net worth is estimated to be around INR 16000 crore in March of 2024.

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Ritesh Agarwal: An inspiration

Apart from being the founder and CEO of OYO Rooms, Ritesh is also a developer, an author, and an orator. He has successfully made a significant impact on the hospitality industry. The credit for making standardized affordable accommodation accessible to the world goes to him. His initiative has not only solved a prevalent problem in the hospitality and tourism industry but also created thousands of job opportunities and boosted many cities economically. His initiative has also been beneficial for other members of the hospitality and tourism community. OYO Rooms partnered with businesses and provided them with training and support. He helped raise the standard of guesthouses, townhouses, and budget hotels. The user-friendly website and app of OYO Rooms have made it easier for people to book hotels online.

The journey of Ritesh Agarwal has inspired many. His unique take on his life experience and the intention to solve the issue before him brought him where he is today. He is one of the most reputed and successful entrepreneurs in India. His journey from a college dropout to becoming India’s second youngest billionaire is nothing short of inspirational. OYO Rooms has helped create jobs, boost hospitality and tourism, and has made a significant presence in many emerging markets. Its growth since its inception has been exceptional, and the company is set to succeed in the years to come.  


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