Ritesh Agarwal and Zoho – the next Unicorn?
Ritesh Agarwal (23 years old) – college dropout – entrepreneur and founder & CEO of OYO Rooms 5 years ago – a disruptive hospitality business and app – with a network of 2,200 hotels operating in 154 cities across India – with monthly revenues of $3.5m and 1,500 employees.
Oyo is tipped to become one of the next start-up unicorns. It has raised a total of $125million of funding from the likes of the Softbank Group, Greenoaks Capital, Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed India
At his company’s 38th annual general meeting, Son of Softbank which has invested in OYO through its $93-billion Vision Fund, was speaking in Japanese that was translated for viewers..
“It owns about 100,000 rooms. It is also growing exponentially. I think, on a per-month basis, the number of rooms, or net growth, is going to continue to grow at the pace of more than 10,000. It is a next-generation hotel chain using the internet service.”
The comments come at a time when OYO has launched services in China, making it a rare instance of an Indian consumer technology company setting up operations in the world’s second-largest economy.
Ritesh started his entrepreneurial journey when he was 17 years old. He dropped out of college and launched his first start‐up Oravel Stays Pvt. Ltd. in 2012. Oravel was designed as a platform to enable listing and booking of budget accommodation. Being an avid traveler, he soon realized that the budget hospitality sector lacked predictability. Recognise sing the opportunity, he pivoted Oravel to OYO Rooms in 2013 with the key proposition of offering affordable and standardized accommodation.
Ritesh Agarwal was selected for the “20 under 20” Thiel Fellowship in 2013. The Thiel Fellowship is a two-year program wherein fellows receive $100,000 and mentorship from the foundation’s network of tech entrepreneurs, investors and scientists.
One big learning from Thiel fellowship was think really big and create an impact, without thinking if anybody has done it before,” said Agarwal, who decided to pivot the model to OYO Rooms, putting most of the Thiel grant into the business.
Agarwal has won many awards and accolades for his work including the Business World Young Entrepreneur Award. He is a regular speaker at entrepreneurial conferences and institutes across India and the world and a fellow of the Thiel Institute .
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