Ritesh Agarwal – Indian Youngest Billionaire Entrepreneur

RiteshAgarwal youngest self-made billionaire after Kylie Jenner.

When you look at Ristesh Agarwal the 26 years old self-made billionaire’s early life you will come to know that he always had an interest in business and had a vision for entrepreneurship even when he was in school.

What were you doing when you were 13? Because you could see Ritesh agarwal’s knack for business from the fact that he was selling SIM cards at age 13.

Was it his business family background or his passion for making an individual name for himself that put him on the path to becoming a self-made billionaire after Kylie Jenner who is the founder and owner of the ‘Kylie cosmetics” with a US $1 billion dollars net worth.

We are going to go through his life and life choices that took him to such peaks of successes for inspiration.

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Retish Agarwal was born on November 16th, 1993 to a business family In Bissam Cuttack, Odisha state India and brough up inTitilagarh.

He attended the Sacred Heart school in Raygada, Orissa. He later completed his school from St. Johns Senior Secondary School.

During his school life he was more interested in learning something new compared to his age fellows. He was always looking for new opportunities to learn. This thirst for knowledge nudged him towards learning programming. Which resulted in him being able to generate codes when he was just 8 years old.

After completing his school life he moved to Delhi in 2011 for college and had already made his mind to start something of his own.

He dropped out of college later to pursue his dreams of becoming an entrepreneur

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Factors that contributed towards him becoming success

These factors show that he always had a passion for success and contributed towards putting him on the way to becoming the CEO of OYO rooms.

Age 8- Started taking interest in software- Generated codes at age 8.

Age -13- Started selling SIM cards- which showed his interest in business.

2009-Age-16- Joined IIT in Kota- Learned that Kota was not the right place to learn coding.

He started taking the Bansal Tutorials that his dad enrolled him into.

Retish Agarwal was chosen among the240 children to be part of the Asian science camp that was held at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIRF) in Mumbai. The camp was an annual forum for pre-collegiate students that aimed at promoting discussion for the betterment of science in the region.

He started writing a book that was called “Indian engineering colleges: A complete Encyclopedia of top 10 engineering colleges”. Which turned out to be a huge success on Flipkart and sold out in a short time.

Which played a huge part in making his name because even the tutorials he went to had the book with his picture on the cover.

Life as an Entrepreneur

During his time in Kota he travelled a lot. Money was not a problem for him at the time because of the savings from Kota and his 15,000 pocket money per month allowed him to travel.

He was also preparing for SATs for further studies in the U.S. Somehow the SATs didn’t take place. That played a different role in his life and put him on the way to reading about businesses, start-up and Airbnbs and meeting entrepreneurs.

During his travels he came to realize that the budget hotels in India did not even meet the very basic needs of a traveler on a budged.

He went on to find an alternative and capitalized on that on that opportunity.

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2011-Age 18

Orvel stays-was his first business venture. Oravel stays was an aggregator of bed and breakfast stays across India. A destination for short and midterm rentals for BnB joints which included private rooms and serviced apartments.

Later he secured 30 lac Rupees from Venture Nursery- An accelerator firm that helped in bringing together storied investors to help nurture new start-ups. With that money he started working on his idea.

Thiel Fellowship- He presented his Oravel stays Idea at the Thiel fellowship created PayPal Co-founder and Facebook investor Peter Thiel.

The Fellowship is a global contest intended for students under tha age of 20. Retish Agarwal managed to be one of the top ten winners who received a sum of $100,000 over two years. 2.7 lacs a month for two years along with guidance and other resources for a start-up.

After that he started working rigorously and got Manish Sinha of Gurgaon based Cinnamon stays as their co-founder but after all the hard work the business still did not pick-up. They even tried replicating the AirBnB model but it didn’t work.

The company was not able to pick up and get substantial transactions. Eventually Manish Sinha had to quit the company.   

Transformation to OYO rooms

After the failure of Oravel Stays Retish started thinking for new ideas along the lines of his first one.

He soon realized that the biggest problem travelers come across is not being able to find good, affordable and available hotels to stay in and ends up in crappy places which kind of spoils the travelling experience.

From his own and other people’s travelling experiences he came up with an idea to create an online social community to gather information about all the good places on one platform.

2013- Finally he tweaked his original idea and re-launched Oravel as OYO rooms.

OYO stands for On Your Own.

OYO Roomswas an Idea to create India’s largest chain of efficient, young, standardized rooms. With an intention to build the coolest chain of no add-on room which might not have spas and gyms but will definitely live up to the basic standards and high expectations with affordable prices.

To make sure if the hotel is up to their standard OYO reached out to perspective hotels or the hotels reached out to them and then the OYO team would visit the place to audit it and see if it’s up to the standard or any changes need to be made as per OYO standards.

Apart from the hectic routine of funding, marketing, dealing with investors and property owners he got mixed reactions from his friends and family which later changed with time but Ritesh stayed his ground through everything that came his way and stayed true to his dream.

After the launch Retish got Bhawna Agarwal, former CEO at E-Commerce firm SeventyMM for critical business advising.

But this time they played it safe with no stone unturned. They contacted a dozen numbers of hotels and started business with them by offering rooms to OYO customers with everything up to the OYO Rooms standards.

And this time it turned out to be better than the last experience he had with the Oravel stays. The business started to grow and eventually they had to increase their team from two to fifteen and then to twenty-five to meet the growing demands of the company.

2014- OYO raised Rs. 4 Crore from Lightspeed Venture partners (LSVP) and DSG consumer partners. At a pre money valuation (Valuation of a company prior to investment or financing) of Rs 14 Crore.

The company started to clock 1 crore per month and the company became India’s first technology driven network of standardized branded budget hotels and it expanded its presence to 350 hotels and 4000 rooms in 20 cities all over the country.

Since 2013 in six years the start-up has expanded globally with thousands of hotels, vacation homes and millions of rooms in hundreds of cities all over the world.

Accomplishments of Retish Agarwal

  • In 2019 Agarwal got featured in the Bloomberg 50 list as ‘The Amazingly Ambitious Hotelier’.
  •  And got featured in The 50 most powerful people in India by India Today and the Tycoons of Tomorrow’ by Forbes India.
  • Agarwal’s net worth in 2019 was estimated to be approximately $1 billion.
  • He got the Market Entrant of the Year 2019 (UK-India Awards)
  • Got the honor of winning Fast Company’s World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2019 – India edition
  • Got the Best Startup – SATTE Awards in 2019
  • OYO topped the list of LinkedIn’s Top Startups in India (2018)
  • LinkedIn recognized OYO as one of the top employee attractors in India for four consecutive years  (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)
  •  OYO among Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in India- Fast Company (2018)
  • Startup of the Year- The Economic Times Startup Awards (2018)
  • Got the TiE’s QGlue Design-led Entrepreneurship Awards (2018)
  • Got the Best Travel Startup – Jury at Zee Business Travel Awards (2018)
  • Got India’s Most Promising Hotel Network, HolidayIQ Better Holiday Awards 2017
  • Got the New Age Entrepreneur Award by Asian Centre for Corporate Governance & Sustainability (2016)
  • Got the OneDirect Quest CX Award for Best Use of Social Media (2016)
  • Was No. 2 in the BT Coolest Start-ups Survey 2016
  • Got the Startup of the Year- Express IT Award (2015)
  • In March 2020, Ivanka Trump, the senior advisor to President Donald Trump, launched an initiative by OYO Hotels to offer free stays to doctors, nurses in the US that are helping in the fight against the novel coronavirus, describing the gesture as “impactful acts of benevolence”

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