Who said success takes time to come?
For people who think success is earned only after one has years and years of experience, here is a boy (Ritesh Agarwal the OYO Rooms Founder and CEO), who turned the tables into his favour, in an age where boys are busy trying to figure out ways to turn manly and do all the things which would make them look grown up, rather than actually working like a real one.
The man behind the ultimate business idea
Ritesh Agarwal is a resident of Orissa and was bought up in a business class household. A time when getting along the crowd, making cool friends and talking people is the trend. Ritesh, who went to Sacred Heart School in Rayagada, Orissa was busy figuring out ways to satisfy his curious thirst of learning, by ways which aren’t common among the other students of that age.
Learning in a fun way was his kind of a thing and that is what got him all geared up. As he would spoil and play along with the feature of a computer and then, later on, went to find all the ways in which it could be fixed.
Can you recall the time when you were 8 years old?
A time when getting past the course books were a great deal, because playing with friends consumed all our mind.
Well, we are rather happy to say that it wasn’t the case for this genius as this led him to what he made of him today. He would explore the world of coding and borrow all the books he could find.
He decided that coding is what keeps him alive and it is what would take him places. That’s right Ritesh began coding at the budding age of 8, and soon discovered it was the love of his life by the time he reached 10th grade.
Coding being his constant love, Entrepreneur was a new and fascinating term he came across. Drawn by the charisma and class the word carried he would often say, he wish to be an entrepreneur.
The eagerness to learn everything about it knew no boundaries and that is when he would begin attending every seminar he heard of. All of this made him grow out to be excited, but unfortunately, studies titled out of his focus. This was when he went to Kota in the year 2009 to actually get admitted in a coaching center and try to crack JEE and get into IIT.
Kota, the center for knowledge turned out to be a great source for him to get involved in all the other stuff the city offered and coding stayed back.
Bansal classes were what he opted to go for and, decided to attend them as he had a lot of time to spare. The rest of the time he had, he simply wanted to explore the city and travel to all the places, staying in all the cheap and affordable places he could find.
All the places were literally everything, a house, PG, hotel, breakfast and bed, everything. He began to outgrow Kota, and now his area of interest was to explore Delhi. He would board a train and travel the capital and yet would stay at the budget restraints and attend all kind of Entrepreneur seminars.
The registration fee was a matter of concern too and so, he would often find ways to sneak out into the seminar.
The emergence of the business idea
The fun stuff which he would do actually turned out and brought a change in his mindset.
Affordable rooms were his options, but the experience was terrible. This began concerning him and he started investing his efforts and mind onto understanding what customer experience is.
It is a common site for a person above the age of 30 to analyze the data and understand customer behavior, but an 18 years old teenager caught hold of it. That is when he came up with the motto of developing great living spaces for the common man.
And, everything changed….!
He came up with the idea of setting up Oravel Stays, a breakfast and bed facility.
The motto was simple, provide better and quality short time bedding and breakfast services.
He did so well, that he managed to secure funding in lakhs and this further encouraged him to go out of his way and think about ideas of a startup.
So keen and driven by the passion, he presented his idea to a team called Thiel Fellowship, which is a global contest meant for such people who fall under the age category of below 20. The winners of the contest would be provided with funding ($100000) and all the necessary and guidance and resources which would help them drop out of college and implement their plans.
Ritesh Agarwal managed to get himself placed in top 10 and secured yet another funding of nearly 2.5 lakh per month, for 2 years
Everything is not meant to fall in place
For a matter of fact, Ritesh Agarwal did move out of the country to pursue greater studies and joined the University of London. But, it was his heart he decided to listen to, and the spirits and belief he had upon himself drove him to walk out of it.
He returned back in few days for, the desire to take up entrepreneurship was so strong.
But, then luck struck him hard and his approved business model wasn’t standing up to the expectation and necessity. He even got Manish Sinha from a Gurgaon based B&B business known as Cinnamon Stays as their co-founder but yet the business failed miserably.
Every attempt to get the most of the plans and even taking inspirations from the Airbnb model did no favor.
Now he started exploring more.
The Unrevealed Deal!
Did you try having a conversation of setting up a business of your own with someone?
I’m sure the first suggestion thrown at you would be – “child you need a lot of investment and experience”.
This is because the society and the industry have some set parameters which people dare not cross for the fear of risk is real.
Thinking out of the box is not someone would suggest you go along, and Ritesh dared to take a path less traveled. His idea was not of setting up a different property or starting up his own hotel, rather invest in all the economic hotel which are meant for the common people but fail to meet the expectations.
He had this idea of all the troubled faced by people who travel.
The most common, yet the biggest problem was to find a good, affordable and available hotel. People usually ended up at nasty looking hotels which had even bad services or good hotels but ended up paying a lot more than what it was worth.
Travelling is an expense itself, bad staying facilities absolutely hinder the financial condition and experience of the traveler.
It was relatable?
Right, because he had been through all the struggle personally.
The motivation took a new form now, and he wanted to gather all the information and data and further take it online and help people socialize and find good places easily.
This was when he re-launched Oravel Stays as OYO Rooms.
OYO stands for On Your Own, and it best fits the services it provides.
Insights about how the plan worked of Ritesh Agarwal
He found the budget hotels didn’t have the required planning and ideas to actually get their business all boosted up.
The investment wasn’t a thing and returns were proportionate too for such owners. That is when he found out ways he could actually improve the existing properties rather than investing in some new.
The first property he visited belonged to Rajesh Yadav, who faced this young boy who was mistaken to be yet another buy down the street who belongs to a wealthy father.
Because the deal Ritesh made was – ‘if you face loss, I will bear it but, if you earn profits, we will share them equally’.
Spotting him to be a small term investment, the owner agreed to the deal without having an idea about what he was capable of doing.
There began his quest!
He went to the market and bought good worth ₹24000 to renovate the place.
It comprised of every petty item he could catch hold of.
He transformed the hotel into something quite different, so was his hard work.
He worked days and nights on the hotel and tried knowing his customers to the maximum. He says a business owner needs to know his customers more than anyone else.
His efforts found ways and the hotel started booming up.
With this success, he started getting calls from different property owners to help them with the business. And the great phase of his life began.
His team would go and check the hotels and renovate them accordingly and guide the staff too so customers experience a great ambiance.
Everything lasts for a phase, and so did his success.
Now, came a time when being a young and driven person, got him into trouble.
He came across a lot of people who take advantage of his young age and him, and tried luring him, and making use of him.
But he believed,
Every trouble is to be faced with excitement and running off the trouble is not a solution.
He faced them all and tried catching hold of people who would guide him and support him for the good.
One such person was, Abhinav Sinha (COO of OYO Room) who really helped him reach a great threshold of properties by the end of the year.
OYO Rooms Business Plan
It was spotted that 90% of the hotels in India were the non-branded hotels which were under maintenance. Branding really matters and that was the motive of Ritesh Agarwal.
To brand all such small hotels and bring them under one chain supply known as OYO Rooms. The brand would provide standardized and efficient rooms to the people across the country.
The next challenge was availability and hence, being a techie, he came up with the software of bringing up all the hotels in one place which can be accessed and booked by anyone.
Meeting the expectations was a thing for Ritesh Agarwal and his team worked to provide the same exact rooms. as the pictures which are surfaced online.
Customer’s expectations have to be fulfilled and that is what made OYO India’s first technology-driven network of standardized branded budget hotels. The app has been designed to provide the users with a room in just three clicks.
3 clicks, 5 seconds and room booked.
All the success he gained got him geared up and he has successfully expanded his business overseas, i.e. to China.
Business in China, at present, is 50 % to that of the business in India and he plans to leave no stone unturned.
With the mind-blowing idea and the correct skill set, OYO Rooms is successfully increasing and growing beyond the expectations. It has become a platform of success and the achievements it managed to gain are: –
- OYO has a present listing of about 70,000 rooms, which is roughly more than 8500+ hotels, widely spread across 230 cities.
- It has 7 million plus app downloads.
- OYO has a number of 2.5 million check-ins.
- It has successful 5,00,000 plus guests served.
- OYO is 14th largest Hotel chain in the world and India’s largest.
- Awarded the TiE-Lumis Entrepreneurial Excellence Award (2014)
- The first resident Asian to win ’20 Under 20’ Thiel Fellowship (2013)
- Named one of the Top 50 Entrepreneurs by TATA First Dot Awards (2013)
- Finalist of Global Student Entrepreneurship Awards-India
- Named one of the ‘8 Hottest Teenage Startup Founders in the World’ by Business Insider (2013)
- Ritesh Agarwal recognized World’s Youngest CEO at 16
OYO has become a recognized brand itself, serving all the needs of a common man.
When a great living space wasn’t a term known for people traveling compact. Ritesh dreamed of it and made it happen.