Meet India’s Youngest CEO Ritesh Agarwal

5 minute read

Ever heard of the youngest Indian billionaire? He is none other than Ritesh Agarwal, the Indian entrepreneur and the founder of OYO rooms. He has achieved many milestones at a very young age. In this blog, we have taken a closer look at the life story of Ritesh Agarwal and the journey of OYO rooms.

Early life and Education

Ritesh Agarwal was born on the 16th of November 1993, in Bissam Cuttack, Rayagada, Odisha. She was brought up in Titilagarh. He belongs to a middle-class family living in southern Odisha surviving on a small shop. Ritesh Agarwal sold SIM cards when he was at the age of 13.

He graduated from St. John’s Senior secondary school and later moved to Delhi to pursue higher education in the year 2011. Two years later, in 2013, he was selected for the Thiel fellowship. At the age of 17, he dropped out of college to pursue his dream of becoming an Entrepreneur.

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Constructing Rooms, Building a Career

Exclusive: Oyo's Ritesh Agarwal opens up about job losses, Aditya Ghosh,  governance issues, and SoftBank's role- Technology News, Firstpost
Source: First Post

Ritesh Agarwal started his career in 2012  by launching Oravel Stays, a budget-friendly hotel accommodation portal. This start-up was accepted in the accelerator program by Venture Nursery in the same year and won the 2013 Thiel fellowship program too. The company was launched in May 2013 after receiving a grant of $100,000. Currently, OYO has over 13,000 franchised and leased hotels, and over 450,000 rooms, adding over 64,000 rooms every month, globally. 

“Hire people not for today but for 2-3 years from now, and let them grow with the company.”

According to Hurun Rich list 2020, his net worth was estimated to be approximately $1.1 billion. By February 2020, Ritesh Agarwal was declared the second-youngest self-made billionaire in the world after the popular makeup line CEO Kylie Jenner.

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Journey of OYO rooms

Source: Odisha Diary

Since its launch in May 2013, OYO rooms company has only tasted success and few downsides. The company raised $1 billion by September 2018. After a year, Agarwal had purchased $2 billion in shares in the company, tripling his stake. Valued at $10 billion, Ritesh-led OYO has expanded to over 800 cities in over 80 countries and claims to have hosted over 50 million guests so far.

The Controversy

OYO rooms were also a part of controversies when Agarwal signed agreements through his company with hotel owners in the US. The agreement stated that the buildings of hotels will be rebranded under the OYO name in exchange for compensation and guaranteed revenue. But it left out the information that OYO was not authorised to operate a franchise business in the state of California. In March 2019, the company was fined $200,000 by California regulators. The company also received a cease and desist order from Washington after OYO rooms made offers to several hotels without proper official registration.

There are several charges against the company for fraud and conspiracy. It was noted that OYO took away half of the revenues as fees, without informing the hotel owners during the agreement. Ritesh Agarwal, however, has successfully defended his side and also appealed for stay orders on several cases.

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Youtube: OYO

Ritesh Agarwal has several titles assigned to him such as the following.

  • CEO and founder of OYO
  • Winner of 2013 Thiel fellowship
  • Second youngest self-made billionaire
  • Recipient of the Business World Young Entrepreneur Award
  • Forbes 30 under 30 lists for Asia
  • The net worth of  ₹7253 crores

5 Unknown Facts About Ritesh Agarwal

Here are the five unknown interesting facts about the youngest CEO Ritesh Agarwal!

Young Start of the Career

“Start small, nail it, and then make it big.”

He started his career at a very young age with the oral stage model for India. He started with one hotel in Gurugram, Haryana and now is expanding his franchise to over 13,000 hotels with over 4,50,000 rooms.

The Bizarre Motivation Behind the Company

“Having a passion for solving a big problem and leaving a huge impact. Once you have that, everything else falls into place.”

The motivation behind starting OYO services was that as a young child Ritesh Agarwal did not have control over the TV remote at the relatives home. He wanted to watch cartoon networks while other relatives insisted on watching soap operas. This problem gave him the idea of a separate room with a private TV and full control over things. His idea made him win the Thiel young fellowship programme, a special grant for dropout students with innovative projects. 

Second Youngest Self-made Billionaire

“As an entrepreneur, you have to be open to taking risks, especially when the downside is limited but the upside is high.” 

The success of his company made him win the title of the second youngest self-made billionaire in the world after Kylie Jenner. Just like she invested and became the Queen of her business, Ritesh invested too and was lucky to get second place in the world.

Road to Limitless Success

“The reality of startup is you have failures very often.”

Ritesh Agarwal And his ambitious project are backed by investors such as Sequoia Capital, lightspeed venture partners, and Softbank. According to reports, his company has opened a new Hotel in the US every day. 

US President Meet-up

Meeting the US President is an honour in itself. Ritesh Agarwal was one of the business giants to have the opportunity to meet US President Donald Trump during his last visit to India for two days. Donald Trump congratulated him on his successful venture.

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6 Business Rules by the OYO Mastermind- Ritesh Agarwal

Twitter: Ritesh Agarwal

India’s youngest and most celebrated billionaire follows these five simple and basic business rules.

  • Stand strong and keep fighting
  • There is no perfect timing start as soon as possible
  • Follow your dreams because they know the way
  • Start small, nail it and then make it big
  • Innovates to solve and don’t follow the crowd
  • Hire the best

We hope this blog enlightened you on the business model of OYO rooms and its founder Ritesh Agarwal. It is really a proud feeling to have such young entrepreneurs and billionaires from India. We hope more young students and aspiring entrepreneurs will come up with business ideas to solve common human problems. To read similar content and blogs, please visit our website now.

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