Ritiesh Agarwal: A Born Businessman
In our country education is always given the first priority, as we believe that it is education which leads us to the success. But Ritesh Agarwal (Founder & CEO, OYO) has proved it wrong! The 26 years old entrepreneur has had the business involvement since his childhood. He began his entrepreneur journey by selling SIM cards in his home town Rayagada, Odisha at the young age of 13. Fast forwarding five years, he set up Oravel Stays, a budget accommodation portal in 2012. Ritesh indulged himself in exploring over 100 bed and breakfast stays, guest houses and hotel as a part of his research to enhance his business. After carrying out his rigorous research for about three months, the Oravel Stays evolved as OYO Rooms.
Ritiesh’s decision to quit his education has turned into a blessing in disguise. This made him eligible for the Thiel Fellowship program, which is offered to the school dropout students who are below 23 years. Ritiesh emerged as one among the winners of the program and was granted $ 100,000 as a reward. In addition to this, OYO also raised some funds to establish its business further. The funding includes Series A round of funding in March 2015, for about $24 billion from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital, Greenoaks Capital and DSG Consumer Partners. Post that, in August 2015, another $100 million was raised from SoftBank Group and existing investors. Again in August 2016, OYO raised about $90 million from SoftBank Group, Innoven Capital and existing investors. Later, it raised about $250 million in Series D funding from its existing investors and new investor Hero Enterprises.
With the growing funding, Ritiesh went on to expand OYO’s branches across Malaysia, Nepal, Goa, Shimla, Puducherry, Udaipur, Kerala, Indonesia, Dubai and more from 2016-2018. As a sign of its development, OYO also went on to acquire Novascotia Boutique Homes in March 2018. Later, in May 2019, the company acquired Amsterdam based Leisure Group, a vacation rental business. In August 2019, it bought Hooters Casino Hotel in collaboration with the US based real estate firm, Highgate, marking OYO’s first major investment. The company today is also looking forward to its business expansion across United States in the future.
Awards & Accolades
In a very short duration, OYO has reached great heights. Ritiesh’s hardwork and determination has been the reason behind this success. Owing to his efficiency, he has been bestowed with several awards. A few amongst them are Young Entrepreneur of the Year from BusinessWorld, India International Travel Mart Award, Lufthanasa ET Now Runway to Success Award, and TIE Lumis Business Excellence Award. From his busy schedule, he has also extracted time to pen down a book “Kaleidoscope”, which has around 25 award winning short stories.
Ritiesh commenting on his business ideas states, “It is extremely important to build something that a 100 people absolutely love using rather than make something that a 1000 people would just, kind of, like”.
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