Story behind the success of Ritesh Agarwal (Founder of OYO Rooms)

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Ritesh Agarwal (founder and CEO of OYO Rooms) was born on November 16, 1993. He is one of the most successful young entrepreneurs of India today.

1.Instead of thinking, do it.

Ritesh started coding at the young age of 10 years. Soon he wanted to do something of his own. So he started by selling SIM cards and later FMCG products.

2. Always move out of your comfort zone.

Though Ritesh lived in Rayagada district in Odisha which was Naxal infested and had literacy less than 20%, yet he studied well and then moved to Kota to take engineering coaching. He did not like the coaching so he frequently started attending startup events in Delhi and nearby places every weekend. Though he was just 16-17 years old, he went alone every weekend because he loved entrepreneurship instead of just wasting time.


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3. Take risks.

After completing his schooling, he joined an engineering college in Delhi. He went to college for 2-3 days and then thought he would take 2 days holiday to try something that he loved. That was the last time he went to college. Through his frequent travels, he discovered that many people had extra rooms in their houses which they wanted to rent out  but tourists were not able to discover those rooms though there was a huge demand of hotels. Hence he built a web based solution, similar to Airbnb called Oravel stays.


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4. Always try. If you try you always have some chance to succeed. 

When he read about Thiel fellowship program (started by entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel), he thought there was no chance he would get into it. Yet he applied because the questions were interesting. The rest is history as he was called to United States of America a to pitch his idea and was finally selected for the program.  The catch was that he had drop out to enroll into the program. Since, he anyways did not like college, he dropped out and finally became the first Indian Thiel Fellow.


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Thiel Fellows get $100,000 (~ Rs 65 lakhs) in funding and mentor ship for 2 years to pursue their startup, research etc.


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To know about Thiel fellowship:

5. Identify the problem and solve your own pain points.

After he built Oravel he realized he was not solving any important pain points for Indian consumers. Then he realized that all good business are those in which the entrepreneurs solve their own pain points. He then went on a 3 month trip and everyday he would stay at different places to understand the problems of the consumers. In 3 months he went to around 100 hotels and  realized that though you can find many places to stay online, their services are not predictable.  For example if you have booked a hotel, when you reach the place and call the receptionist, he might not pick up. When you reach your room, it might not be clean or the television might not be working etc. Then he decided to solve all these problems with OYO (On Your Own) which would provide standardized services at a fair price.


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6. Learn from experience and think out of the box. Do not copy always.

He knew that it is impossible for a 20 year old to start his own hotel. So he went to a hotel in Gurugram that he had stayed before and which had a 15-20% occupancy. He told the owner that he would help run the hotel for 6-7 months and get at least 90% occupancy. If he will be able to achieve it they would become partners otherwise he would leave. He started managing everything from housekeeping, sales, talking to customers to understand their problems etc. He was able to get 95% occupancy and soon got inquiries from other nearby hotels on how he had managed it.


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7. Don’t quit and persevere till you succeed.

In the starting the revenues was very less and once  he had gone to meet some hotel owners. When he returned all his stuff was kept outside and guard told him that his rent was pending since several months  and unless he paid the rent he will not be allowed to stay. He was new in Delhi and did not have any relatives with whom he could stay.  His phone had also been blocked because he could not pay bills and he had just Rs23 in his bank account. He slept on stairs for 3 days.Then he found a mutual friend and stayed in his house for 2 months. After that he came back to the same place, paid a premium on the rent and stayed in the same house.


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8. Always thing big. 

In January 2013, he had 1 hotel in Gurugram. By October 2016, OYO had more than 6500 hotels in 220+ cities in India. Oyo Rooms has also launched in Malaysia.

Ritesh gets several threats from established hotel chains, but he is focused on his goals and is not intimidated at all.

Even now, every month Ritesh Agarwal goes to some OYO hotel and interacts with customers, staff, does housekeeping etc to understand the problems and the on ground situation.

His goal is to be able to standardize any piece of land and rent it at a fair price like airport lounge etc.


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If you follow your passion, work hard and persevere, nothing can stop you.

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