Ritesh Agarwal Success Story: How a 23 Year Old Became 2nd Youngest Billionaire

Ritesh Agarwal Story: The Real Inspiration to Young India

By Anindita Paul Apr 20 2021 5:49PM 479 Read
Ritesh Agarwal Story: The Real Inspiration to Young India

Most Indians, while planning vacations, prepare by endlessly scrolling through the hotel listings in OYO Rooms. It is a testament to the success of OYO and its founder Ritesh Agarwal that OYO rooms have become such a vital part of Indian social behavior. And it is no wonder that people are curious about how this ingenious idea came to be and how the OYO success story unfolded

And on the off chance that there are people who might not be aware of what OYO Rooms are: OYO Hotels & Homes, they are a platform that allows one to lease and book hotels, homes, and living spaces. OYO Rooms has a very user-friendly app and website, and fortunately, they are accessible from most parts of the country. Not only that, the company now operates in over 800 cities across 80 countries.

About The Founder: Ritesh Agarwal

Ritesh Agarwal started OYO Rooms when he was only 19. Like many kids in India, he wasn't sure about attending college; he wasn't that confident in academics and didn't know if going to college would be the best decision. In an interview with Business Insider, he said, "I knew if I had gone to college, I would not have done well. And then my family would hate me. So I felt if my family were to hate me anyway, I would rather do what I feel very excited about!"

But unlike most of us, he had an idea and the drive to fulfill it.

He got the idea of creating something like OYO Rooms when he traveled across the country and realized how difficult it was to find hotels on a limited budget. He first started with a website called Oravel Stays. The project wasn't successful, and Ritesh believes it was like any other hotel booking platform.

But it did give him the means to propel his career in business; this endeavor landed him a Thiel Fellowship. Thiel Fellowship is a two-year program created by the co-founder of PayPal, Peter Thiel. It grants $100,000 to 20 teenage entrepreneurs and an opportunity to learn from mentors like Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, etc.

When he was in California taking part in the fellowship program, he finally started the project that would quickly come known as OYO Hotels & Homes. OYO stands for Own Your Own, and hence OYO is not just concerned with making it easier for people to book hotel rooms and lease living spaces, but for those spaces to be upgraded and modified to a standard that fits the ideals of the company.

Milestones in the Oyo success story
  • In March of 2016, OYO acquired the team of Qlik Pass, which was founded to lead its Data Science Department.
  • In 2018 OYO saw an increase of six times when it came to the amount of stayed room nights; when compared to the year 2017. It recorded 75 million overnight stays globally.
  • Also, in 2018, OYO Rooms acquired the Chennai-based service apartment provider Novascotia Boutique Homes.
  • They also entered the wedding market in 2018 by acquiring the Mumbai-based online wedding marketplace Weddingz. in.
  • For the first time, OYO raised $1 billion in investment, of which $100 million was raised from Star Virtue Investment Ltd.
  • In 2019 the OYO success story finally reached Europe and America, and they made significant investments in both regions. They acquired Amsterdam-based @Leisure Group, one of the largest rental companies for vacations. They also acquired Hooters Casino Hotel in Las Vegas in partnership with real estate company Highgate.
  • In 2019, they also secured a partnership with Airbnb, the clauses of which would result in Airbnb investing in OYO, while OYO lists their properties.
  • Their Series F funding OYO Hotels & Homes raised over $1.5 billion, including contributions from SoftBank Group, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Sequoia India.
  • In addition to that, Chinese vehicle rental company Didi Chuxing invested $100 million in OYO in the year 2019.
  • The total revenue generated by OYO increased 4.5 times in 2019 and reached a total of $951 million, which was an increase of $740 million from 2018.
  • As of 2021, OYO Hotels & Homes has acquired over one million rooms across 43 thousand hotels.

How has the pandemic affected the Exponential Growth of the OYO success story?

Even without any special mentions, it is probably abundantly obvious that the pandemic has harmed OYO's business ventures. After all, the crux of OYO's business is people's ability and tendency to travel.

In October of 2020, Ritesh Agarwal sat down for an interview with Wall Street Journal, answering questions about OYO's standing after the long stretch of lockdown and its plan to move further into the pandemic.

Agarwal claimed that business is back up to the pre-pandemic level (a claim that experts have difficulty fully believing) in Southeast Asia, U.S.A, Europe, and India. However, difficulty in operation in China continues. So far in the pandemic, OYO's overall room count fell by 16%, and industry insiders have their eyes set on how they recover after the pandemic or adapt to it.

In the meantime, Agarwal assures that OYO is going to regroup its strategy to focus on the improvement of products, customer experience, and tech systems. In this process, Agarwal also admitted that OYO had been too hyper-focused on growth, and now might be the time to polish the finer details instead. So, from the look of it, the pandemic won't be the end of the OYO success story, neither has it broken the spirit of its administrators.

Final Words: Ritesh Agarwal Success Story

The world has an abundance of ideas, but only a few get to germinate into a massive project like the OYO Hotels & Homes. But just because the possibilities are slim doesn't mean we get to give up on those ideas and not nurture them. Let's take a page from Ritesh Agarwal's book and invest in our ideas and take a leap of faith, as our ideas are waiting to be implemented, to be turned into innovations from mere dreams.

Anindita Paul
Anindita Paul View More Posts

I’m an avid reader and a wobbly but driven writer, who hopes to make her mark in the world of writing one article at a time. I am passionate about creative writing and storytelling, for me this is where my love for art meets my love for language. I am pursuing my masters in English literature, a course that has equipped me to question, comment and analyse the world from diverse points of views, and writing is how I plan to not let these skills go to waste. In my free time I can be found neck deep in meme culture foraging for my next pop-culture obsession.

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