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Wednesday, 18 April, 2018, 12 : 37 PM [IST]

Thinking Out of the Box - Ritesh Agarwal, Founder & CEO, OYO

Ritesh Agarwal proves that entrepreneurship cannot be taught and at the same time age is no bar for starting a business. Today, OYO is one of the most talked about start-ups, and gives budget travellers a plethora of accomodation options across the country. His plan is to establish OYO as the most trusted and loved hotel brand across the world by creating beautiful living spaces.
From a single hotel in May 2013 to over 60,000 exclusive controlled rooms spread over more than 230 cities of India and abroad in 2018, speaks volumes of OYO’s growth and popularity among customers. The man behind this is none other than Ritesh Agarwal. He has proved that age is no bar in setting up a business. Ritesh started this venture when he was just 18 years old. In the process, he become one of the most successful young entrepreneurs in India.

No doubt the entire journey was not a cake walk. Agarwal had launched Oravel in 2012 and pivoted it to OYO in 2013. During the initial stages, he faced difficulty in convincing potential partners and recruits to work with him. “Since it was a completely new and untested business model, hotel owners were unsure about the value we could bring,” recalls Agarwal. But the same people were convinced once they saw the impact that reflected in higher repeat customers, greater revenues and especially how hotel operations, revenue management, and CRM became more efficient, and convenient through the use of OYO apps. The second challenge for him was to build a team because it is the team that determines the success of any business. “Getting the right team together was also quite challenging, but I received good advice and direction from our investors who helped open up their network to OYO,” says Agarwal.

Interestingly, Agarwal’s journey became smoother when he received tremendous support from his own customers. As he puts it, “Our customers are among our biggest supporters. They see a young start-up trying to solve a massive problem - and they help us along the journey with their very valuable and constructive feedback.”

He sincerely believes that they have just scratched the surface of the potential that OYO can tap. His aim is to establish OYO as the most trusted and loved hotel brand across the world by creating beautiful living spaces. “I feel proud of what OYO has achieved in a short time and I am confident that we will be a force to reckon with in times to come - and I look forward to the next 30 years,” he says.

Ritesh’s long-term vision is to standardise and introduce efficiency in all forms of hospitality such as budget hotels, apartments, guesthouses, and resorts. “Recently, we introduced a new category ‘OYO Home’. A large number of second homes and holiday homes are lying locked in India due to owners living in other cities, low rental yields and most commonly because of the lack of a trusted partner who would take responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep of the home,” says Agarwal. This is where OYO steps in. Many of these homes are dotted across locations where OYO hotels are already present. “We want to bring our local expertise, hotel maintenance and housekeeping skills, revenue management algorithms and hospitality technology to homes and offer them on the OYO platform to discerning travellers who are looking for an alternate accommodation experience,” points out Agarwal. For guests, this means the same thing that OYO stands for - highquality accommodation at amazing prices available on-demand at a location of their choice. For owners, this means professional upkeep of their home and a chance to earn a meaningful financial return from an otherwise locked asset. “As a hospitality company, managing hotel assets worth millions across India, we thought we can add immense value by also improving quality and utilisation of homes,” he says.

For Agarwal, Peter Thiel is his biggest role model. “Getting mentored by a visionary like him, receiving access to the brightest leaders in Silicon Valley and being part of this network changed my outlook and gave me new perspective,” concludes Agarwal.
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