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Ritesh Agarwal Story: A Passion Converting Into Billions


According to various surveys, it has been noted that 30 is the age to become successful. Or by 30 you reach your success.

Well, age is just a number, and it doesn’t define a person’s ability or potentials.

Ritesh Agarwal story has changed this age bar scenario. As he is 25years old with a net worth of 3500 crores.

You must be wondering that, what has he done? Or who is he, with such an immense net worth?

Well, you must have heard of OYO rooms?

Do you know what OYO means?
It means “on your own”.

Oravel Stays Private Limited, parent company of OYO, was founded by Ritesh Agarwal in 2013 when he was just 19 years old.

19 years old, was the age of oyo rooms owner!! Yes.
 But as they say, “Everyone can rise above the circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.”

Having dreams, and being passionate about fulfilling them is what lead to good stories. And that is the reason why Ritesh Agarwal's passion has made him the icon for millennial. 

ritesh-agarwal

THE EARLY DAYS

Childhood is like a gateway of letting various dreams and ambitions in.
But, being a child, we have so many ambitions to think of, so many people we want to become.  Just like that, Ritesh also had a dream of becoming a pilot.

But since, from childhood only, he wanted to do something different, and something unique. But as they say, there are some instances in life, which can change your whole perception in the way you think.

This is what happened to him. Once, his sister went to an entrepreneurial fest. Coming back to home, she told Ritesh about this fest. He, being a child, got so interested in this word, that he started looking meaning of entrepreneurship in the Oxford Dictionary. 

"Entrepreneur is someone who solves problems and makes business along with it."
Getting the meaning of this, he got so fascinated with this word.
 There was an instance when his teacher asked everyone in the class that what do they want to become?
Every kid gave mundane answers like, some wanted to become doctors, some engineers, some teachers. But when the question came to him, He said he wanted to become an entrepreneur.

As a child, his fun activities included, screwing around the computer, and he loved to gain more enlightenment about the software’s and programming.

Later, to quench his thirst, he borrowed books on programming from his elder brother. His interest developed so much, that apart from the languages taught in school like Piscal and Basic, he managed to learn and started coding in class 8th only.

Born and brought up in Rayagada, Odisha, he managed well-off with his grades in 10th and considered coding as his living.

By 2009, he left for Kota (Rajasthan) to prepare for IIT. But he noticed that engineering is something he is not interested in doing.

But, being a bright child, he also wrote a book called Indian Engineering Colleges: A Complete Encyclopedia of Top 100 Engineering Colleges’. 
This book gained a lot of popularity on Flipkart and was sold out in a while too.

This was not a stopping spot for him.
He was further selected among the 240 children, to be a part of the Asian Science Camp. It has held at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai.

 

A LIGHT TOWARDS ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Inspired by the word "entrepreneur", Ritesh indirectly developed an interest in something, which he never thought would happen.

Have you ever thought of becoming or doing something else in your life?

But at some point of time, you suddenly develop an interest in something, and then you are like, "Wait! This is what I wanted to do”.

These situations, generally occur in one’s life. It can be reversed also.
As, many of us dream of something, but, might find it difficult to achieve, or we somehow lack passion in that.

Being in Kota, Ritesh had quite a free time. And because of which he started travelling to Delhi, as he found it more interesting. So, he used to stay in PGs, budgeted hotels.

Who would have thought, that just by staying up in different budgeted hotels, he would develop an idea out of it?

Amazing, isn’t it?

Delhi, for him, became land for his passions.

In other words, by making weekend plans to Delhi, he started covering conferences by entrepreneurs. He also attended various events by them. He used to see and get ideas regarding, doing something of his own.

By 2011, he finally moved into Delhi. He came here to do the preparation of SAT, for moving to the US for further studies.

But something was missing in his life. He didn’t find joy in the preparation and unfortunately, SAT never happened.  As his interest was shifted in the direction of entrepreneurship, business and on startup like AIRBNB.

He even joined The University of London, India’s campus. But just after three days of joining, as it was not his cup of tea.
So he left the university and never came back and focused on starting his venture in hospitality.

Ritesh, during his days of travels and stays in a hotel, noticed that budget hotels in India didn’t even meet the very basic needs of a budget traveller. This opportunity strikes him a lot.
And as he says, “Opportunities are everywhere, but are you ready to catch hold of them?”

He discovered that hotel line is a big and a great opportunity to work, and hence, he did. And, he became quite passionate to kick start his venture.

oyo-rooms-share-price

 

CONVERTING PASSION INTO REALITY

Being an entrepreneur, starting something of your own may get a bit risky, but also exciting.

Ritesh Agarwal once said, that, “As an entrepreneur, you are wired for being optimistic, as, if there's a 5% chance, you'll have to take that chance”.

Therefore, capitalizing on this opportunity, he started Oravel Stays in 2012.  Oravel Stays was meant to be a destination for short and midterm rentals, for bed and breakfast joints, private rooms and serviced apartments.

This startup was such an amazing idea, that in no matter of time, they received funding of Rs30 lakhs from the VentureNursery.

Also, being then First Asian Resident to apply and be selected for The Thiel Fellowship, he received a funding of $100,000.

You must be wondering, that what is a Thiel fellowship?

Well, Thiel Fellowship is like a global contest for students under the age of 20.
This fellowship was sponsored by Peter Thiel, who is a co-founder of PayPal and the early investor of Facebook.

Ritesh managed to be in the top ten winners, who received a sum of $100,000 for two years. Along with that, the only condition for Thiel fellowship was that the person should be a dropout and should have a brilliant idea for a startup.

Ritesh learned a lot from this fellowship.
Firstly, to Think very Big.
Secondly, that Being Innovative is absolutely okay.

Learning new things and gaining knowledge has always been his thing. Ritesh had always like to grasp new ideas.

This funding, let him work more rigorously on this startup. But eventually, he faces difficulties in getting his startup at a high pace.

Due to which, he even hired a co-founder for Oravel, Manish Sinha from Gurgaon based Cinnamon Stays.  But, still, there were some troubles which were faced and due to which Manish had to quit the company.
The company was not able to pick or get substantial transactions.

oyo-rooms-share-price

 

THE BEGINNING OF OYO ROOMS BUSINESS MODEL

Ritesh felt a bit low, but he kept himself motivated.
 As, in life, there is always a low point which tries to back us down, but if we still plan to be motivated and focused, we'll reach the heights.

That’s the reality of life.

Well, he once again bagged himself with confidence and was geared up to fly high.

Ritesh realized that the biggest struggle for a traveller is to find a good and affordable hotel. As he wanted to make the experience of a trip worthwhile for people.

It’s quite common, like when you are planning to travel somewhere, you aim to have a good and memorable trip.

But wait, what makes a trip memorable?

Quality time with your loved ones, visiting new places, eating amazing food, but the main thing is the hotel rooms. As this is the main thing which we focus on. Isn’t it?
We see if the washroom if nice or not, beds are soft or not, is the hotel providing complimentary breakfast and also what all other facilities the hotel has?

This is what made Ritesh thinking, and thus he reached the consensus of making such an online platform, where you can get all these sorts of information in a single platform.

Incredible idea. Isn’t it?

Therefore, Ritesh re-launched his business model in 2013 and there came the OYO Rooms.

OYO rooms became a mission to create great living spaces for the common man In India with affordable prices.

It reached out to prospective hotels or hotel owners could also reach out to them,
and then the OYO’s team would visit the place.
They used to 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.

After the launch, Ritesh even got on board with Bhawna Agarwal, former CEO at e-commerce firm SeventyMM for critical business advising.

Ritesh decided to play it smart & safe and made sure to leave no stone unturned.
Oyo rooms tied-up with a dozen numbers of hotels and with their help offered rooms to its customers.

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, and so on.

The business was reaching its height.
 In 2014, the company raised Rs.4 crores from LIghtSpeed Ventures, who was the company's first institutional shareholder.
Bejul Somania, managing director of Lightspeed Ventures, and Ritesh became good partners.

Bejul was the one, who told Ritesh that getting the right set of people to join the company, who have the same ambition, will create a crucial impact.
And, thus he OYO got his new COO, Abhinav Sinha, 2014.

Also, In May 2014 it received funding of about $650,000 from Sequoia Capital and LSVP at a pre-money valuation of $60 million.

 

oyo-rooms-share-price

 SUCCESS MUST TASTE FAILURE

As the company was trying to reach its heights. Some problems grew up like hurdles.

Media, criticized Ritesh, for telling false information about himself. It was said that he was involved in unethical business dealings. Many claimed that the book he wrote, was not actually written by him.
2015, also led to a courtroom battle against the company’s over data theft.

But, these accusations didn’t stop them for working hard.

There came a good phase, where OYO raised $25 million (Rupees 150 crore) from San Francisco-based Green oaks Capital and existing investors Sequoia, DSG Consumer Partners, and Light Speed Ventures.

Ritesh Agarwal, considered 2016, as the re-evolution of OYO.
As he believed that, “When the times are low, then the great companies are built”.

In this time period, they changed their strategies. Now, Instead of just aggregating assets, they were now doing full-scale leasing and franchising assets.

Results were amazing.

As the customer demand increased more. Also, yields were much higher than before.

Ritesh always felt that, if this change is what making the customers and asset owners happy, then this is how they will continue.

Thus, they shut down their aggregating business, changed it into full assets, with exclusively franchised and leased assets. Oyo share price was getting results.

HEIGHTS OYO IS ACHIEVING

Their aim to fulfill the demands of customers, and keeping them their priority made OYO, magnificent hotel chain.

OYO, which now considered as India's largest hotel chain, close to 145,000 thousand leased and franchised keys, that is close to double all the branded chains, is regarded as the "FASTEST GROWING HOTELS".

Today, Oyo’s franchise covers 18,000 properties in 500 cities around the world.
Oyo has earmarked $950 million to bankroll a multipronged expansion across Asia over the next five years.

By getting immense success in Oyo Rooms, Ritesh Agarwal also made-

  • OYO TOWNHOUSE, for the basic needs of millennial.
  • OYO HOMES, providing villas and apartments for privacy.
  • CAPITAL O, for elite guests.
  • SILVER KEY, apartments with stylish interiors.

Oyo has become the second-largest hotel group in China within 18 months of its foray into the country.

It has a presence in 320 cities and nearly 10,000 OYO-branded hotels with 450,000 rooms.

Apart from all this, OYO has also initiated Weddingz.in, for planning a hassle-free wedding, and OYO total holidays, for arranging travel packages. 

Ritesh Agarwal says, “According to the estimation, around 200,000 heads are there every night, on our Hotel pillows”.

This is just the beginning which Oyo has started with, reaching heights is still there.

As he once said, “Having an ability to dream big, is one of the most important attributes of building a large, impactful company”.

Strive for excellence,
be passionate,
Have patience,
and success will automatically come your way.
As, if you have the determination and passion, you have already climbed the stair of success.

By Anjali