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 first started Oravel Stays at the age of 18, and then catapulted it into OYO Rooms.
It also features among the companies which may become the next start-up unicorns according to CB Insights research’s findings, published in The New York Times.
Agarwal 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.
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.”
He started travelling extensively across India at the age of 17.
His various stay experiences at budget accommodations inspired him to launch Oravel Stays in 2012. Oravel was modeled after Airbnb.
By 2013, Agarwal realized that mere aggregation of bed and breakfasts couldn’t address the problems of budget travelers in India and hence, he pivoted Oravel Stays into OYO Rooms.
In the same year, Agarwal was selected for the Thiel Fellowship. The fellowship was created by PayPal founder, Peter Thiel, and provides $100,000 to college drop-outs under 22 years of age to pursue their idea.
Agarwal is the first resident Indian Thiel fellow.
OYO Rooms is India’s largest budget hotel chain and is present in over 160 cities across the country with 40,000 rooms under its umbrella.
OYO Rooms is not merely an aggregator of budget hotels but instead focuses on the standardization of hotels in the non-branded hospitality sector.
OYO Rooms is considered to be one of the very few start-ups which are non-copycat.
According to Agarwal, OYO Rooms was founded to solve the problem of the lack of predictability, affordability, accessibility and availability at budget stays.
Ritesh Agarwal, recently announced OYO’s launch in Malaysia through a post on the company’s official blog.
Awards and Recognition
Forbes ’30 under 30′ in the consumer tech sector.
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.