An Odisha guy rates amongst India’s most celebrated young entrepreneurs. This 25-year-old tech star, Ritesh Agarwal, is the founder and CEO of the country’s largest hospitality chain, OYO Rooms. He is the youngest major self-made entrepreneur, in the recently released Barclays Hurun India Rich List 2018 worth an estimated $365 million. This young entrepreneur has definitely put a remarkable footprint throughout his way. But his journey to Oyo did face wild experiences and he went against all the social norms to become the youngest successful entrepreneur of our country.
Story of Ritesh Agarwal: From College Dropout to A Millionaire
Ritesh Agarwal is a young Indian entrepreneur and founder of OYO Rooms, the fastest growing branded network holder offline and online. The brilliant mind was born in a business family in Bissamcuttack a village in Rayagada district of Odisha. During his growing up days in Rayagada, it was all about fun and learning for him. But Ritesh’s ways were extremely divergent from those of other kids. His fun elements included screwing around with the computer, trying hard to find opportunities to make mistakes so that he could learn new stuff. As a result, he gained a keen interest in software. This started with the idea of knowing more about it and then the hunger just went on.
At the age of just 8 years, he started coding. To quench his thirst to know more he borrowed his elder brother’s books for programming. Some of the fun languages like Basic and Pascal were taught in the school itself, and rest he managed to learn from Google. At the age when most of the teenagers are dating or swiping right on tinder, and enjoying the most comfortable zone of their life. He innovated something which no one had ever thought of at such a young age.
In 2011, he packed up his bag and moved to Delhi with a concrete dream to start something of his own. Ritesh always felt that the 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 and called it Oravel Stays. It was an aggregator of bed and break for stays across India. In a matter of no time, he pinned to his wallet funding of Rs. 30 lakhs from VentureNursery, an accelerator firm which brought together a bunch of investors to nurture startups.
With his hands on his pocket, he started working towards his new craze. Eventually, he also presented his idea to Thiel Fellowship, a global contest for students under the age of 22. Ritesh Agarwal dropped out of college to follow his dream which later turned out to be OYO Rooms. This 25-year-old protege of Peter Theil, founder of PayPal; Elon Musk, founder Tesla Motors, and Mark Zuckerberg is India’s only Thiel fellow till date. He managed to reach among the top 10 winners and received a sum of $100,000 from Peter Thiel (the Co-Founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook) and a lot of other white guys you probably haven’t heard of. He has turned his company into a behemoth of 630 crores. That is a thumbing 30 grand for every hour that he has lived on the face of planet earth.
Ritesh then went into the thinking mode and realized, the biggest pain while traveling was to find affordable and available hotels to stay in. This motivated him to create an online social community, to bring information about all good places together on one platform. As a result, in 2013 he relaunched Oravel as OYO Rooms. The name OYO means “On Your Own”. It was nothing but an idea to create India’s largest chain of efficient, young and standardized budget rooms.
Since then, OYO Room has gone on to become India’s first technology-driven network to give standardized budget hotels in all major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, etc.
Ritesh Agarwal recently launched OYO Life which aims at providing hassle-free stays in Flats and PGs across major cities in India. OYO Life provides fully furnished houses at affordable prices in Kolkata, Noida, Bangalore, Gurgaon, and Pune. There are zero-brokerage and no lock-in period which has made house hunt so much easier. This is a good startup initiative pertaining to the number of students and working professionals coming to the big cities to fulfill their dreams and the tiresome work of house hunting. This, if executed well, will turn out to be a boon for accommodation seekers.
5 Business Startup Rules Of Ritesh Agarwal
Ritesh Agarwal is a dynamic example to the young entrepreneurs of the era. He sets an example for upcoming young minds and has been an inspiration and lighthouse guiding them to build up their “ON YOUR OWN: OYO”.
RULE 1: Innovate to Solve and Don’t Follow The Crowd
One of the biggest questions that surround the people is what to start? What would be the best business to go with? Mr. Agarwal’s first rule erases the dilemma. Think before you lay down the foundation of your business. Ritesh realized the biggest pain while traveling was to find affordable and available hotels to stay in. But like always, we always ended up staying in a crappy place. This motivated him to create an online social community, to bring information about all good places together in one platform.
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower”
Don’t step into the shoes and move in the crowd just because everyone is doing it. Whenever you start a business think upon solving problems of people, reach to their needs and make a base. Innovate and create a platform that people would feel blessed to have. Cater the best and get the best.
RULE 2: Hire The Best
Hire those people who give soul to your business and to your mission.
“Bring people who are ready to stick their neck out for the mission of the company”
– Ritesh Agarwal
Build a strong hiring roadmap for your company. Your employees are ladders of your company so be keen and hire the best.
RULE 3: Stand Strong and Keep Fighting
When you are on a royal track there are going to be hurdles and muddles that will exert extra pressure to push you down. But don’t fear as OYO rooms too faced many hurdles in its way to success. Just smile and push them aside, they are just a part and you have to go along with it no one can do it for you. It’s all like a lifeline, it ought to have ups and downs, if it is a straight line then the person is obviously dead. You are alive only when the lifeline has the ups and downs which are like thrill and pain. So, be happy as the hurdles indicate you have life.
Don’t be scared of your problems, when you are there to put a tent in the universe people are gonna get unhappy with you but that doesn’t matter.
RULE 4: There is No Perfect Timing, Start as Soon as Possible.
Life is all about learning, failing, falling and then standing again. The sooner you start the sooner it becomes your reality and you become familiar to the challenges. The earlier you taste it, the less you waste time. For Mr. Agarwal also OYO hospitality network was incidental. This phase is very interesting and most of the people don’t understand it but every entrepreneur goes through it.
Effectively, what you have thought vs what you end up doing is not always the same, you always learn. “The reality of startup is you have failures very often” says Ritesh Agarwal. The best things about startups are that you don’t need to organize everything on day one and that’s why they are startups. You learn to enhance and polish, get the feedbacks and sharpen your edges thereon.
RULE 5: Follow Your Dreams Because they Know the Way
” Never let schooling interfere with your education”
The crux to this rule is that never stop learning even after your education is complete. Knowledge is everywhere. There is no perfect time to start something. Learn to take risks. We would never have seen this youngest entrepreneur if Ritesh Agarwal had not dared to step out, drop his college and follow his dreams.
“Dare to follow if you dare to dream “
Ritesh was not one of the few people who only dreamt big but he also kept a vision to achieve bigger. His early life is a perfect example of how young minds can dream and make it happen. Hope it will inspire you and help you realize that it’s neither ever too early nor ever too late to pursue your dreams of being a business owner. Be a job creator rather than a job seeker. It’s all up to you to decide whether you want a straight lifeline or the one with ups and downs, adventures and thrills.