Man behind OYO Rooms : Ritesh Agarwal

The teenage boy – Ritesh Agarwal is the Founder & CEO of OYO Rooms – fastest growing Branded network of hotels offline & online. With a current valuation of nearly 360 Cr, OYO rooms does nothing out of the box but provides travelers the coolest yet cheapest efficient, young, standardized rooms with no add-ons attached to it!

Ritesh Agarwal (born 16 November 1993) is an Indian entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of OYO Rooms. He started his business career at age 17. He is the first resident Indian to win the Thiel Fellowship. More recently, he was named by Forbes in its “30 Under 30” list in the consumer tech sector.

He was born on November 16, 1993, in Bissam Cuttack and was raised in a middle-class Marwari family. His father works with an infrastructure corporation and his mother is a homemaker. He has three siblings.

He went to Sacred Heart School in Rayagada, Odisha. After finishing class 12th, he enrolled in Indian School of Business & Finance, Delhi. However, he didn’t continue with his college education and dropped out to start his own company without his family knowing of this move.

Also read: Oyo Rooms turns profitable with 15x growth year over year

He has often talked to the media about how he was scared of his parents getting to know that he has dropped out of college. In an interview with the Economic Times, Agarwal said, “When the newspapers started reporting it. My dad came to Delhi and was perplexed to see the office. It took me a day to convince him. My mom was very unhappy because she felt who would take me for a groom? You needed to be at least a graduate.

Professional Life

In 2011, Ritesh moved to Delhi with intentions of starting up something of his own and at the same time to prepare for SAT to move to the US for further studies.

Now, money back then was not a problem for him because he had savings from Kota and the pocket money was good; roughly Rs.15,000 for a month.

But fortunately or unfortunately, SAT never happened. Hence, he used to do nothing but meet and read about entrepreneurs, start-ups, businesses, and especially Airbnb!

Now, Ritesh during his days had seen and always felt that budget hotels in India didn’t even meet the very basic needs of a budget traveler. Hence, capitalizing on this opportunity, he started his first venture in 2012 – Oravel Stays! It was an aggregator of bed and breakfast stays across India.

In simpler terms, it was meant to be destination for short and midterm rentals for bed and breakfast joints, private rooms and serviced apartments.

In a matter of no time, he also secured funding of Rs 30 lakhs from VentureNursery, an accelerator firm which brought together a bunch of storied investors to nurture start-ups.

With sufficient money in his pockets, he started working on his new found interest and at the same time, he also presented his idea at the Thiel Fellowship – a global contest intended for students under the age of 20. He managed to reach amongst the top ten winners who received a sum of $100,000 [over two years (about Rs 2.7 lakhs / month)] as well as guidance and other resources, to drop out of school and create a start-up, from PayPal co-founder and Facebook investor – Peter Thiel.

Also read: How Vijay Shekhar Sharma started – Life of Paytm’s founder

Transform To OYO Rooms

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. 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.

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.

Awards And Recognition

  • First resident Asian to win Thiel Fellowship, 2013.
  • Top 50 Entrepreneurs in 2013 by TATA First Dot powered by NEN Awards.
  • Named as one of the ‘8 Hottest Teenage Start Up Founders in the World’ in 2013 by Business Insider.
  • TiE-Lumis Entrepreneurial Excellence Award in 2014.
  • Business World Young Entrepreneur Award in 2015.

Also read: How Sachin Bansal started: Life of Flipkart founder

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