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A 18-year-old did it….. Why can’t you?

For anyone his age winning the Thiel fellowship and raising the first round of investment itself would be enough but not for Ritesh Agarwal. Armed with a grander vision of spreading OYO throughout the world, his traveling never stopped.

Our previous generations grew up with the belief that, in order to start or build something big for the world you need to grow a bit old, gain wisdom and become wise and then think of changing the world.

Now, times have changed. Young people these days have all the resources at their disposal to get their ideas and creativity in front of the world. Never before in the history of humankind, have young people enjoyed the kind of support that they are getting today. This is an interesting time in history where the whole world is ready to invest in young people and watch them succeed.

Ritesh Agarwal is one such young guy from our very own country, counted among the global elite who are at the helm of billion-dollar corporations.

The origins of OYO rooms:

OYO, which stands for “on your own” started its life as an aggregator of cheaper stays and rooms for a traveler on a budget is now a giant valued at about 5 billion dollars. OYO made it’s foray into the European market as well by launching operations in the UK and Spain. Ritesh Agarwal the founder of OYO, was an avid traveler himself and the idea of building OYO was born out of his own itch to solve the problem of finding good and affordable stays for travelers. Being an avid traveler that he was, he had a barebones budget for taking care of things while on the trips.

He discovered that the problem was twofold- one,

– customers didn’t have a way of knowing if the place that they’ve booked is scrappy or good enough.

– The second problem was of the hotel owners, who despite having good properties were having less footfall of customers at their hotels.

OYO taking its first steps:

Ritesh later decided to take a deep dive into solving this problem by working at various such hotels in various capacities- to get the first-hand experience of the problems hoteliers face.

After this brief stint of working on the problems of customers and hoteliers, Ritesh Agarwal had this realization that just having every hotel listed on their platform won’t help but rather a true scale can only be achieved if there exists some support system to improve crappy hotels and make the customer experience much more predictable and pleasant. Equipped with the deeper knowledge he got out of this immersion exercise, he set out to execute on what he believed was the appropriate solution for this problem. Thiel fellowship and an initial funding round of 25 million dollars soon followed him courtesy all the work that he has put into OYO so far.

Committing to a greater vision:

For anyone his age winning the Thiel fellowship and raising the first round of investment itself would be enough but not for Ritesh Agarwal. Armed with a grander vision of spreading OYO throughout the world, his traveling never stopped. Now along with trying to understand the problems of hotel owners and travelers, he was also making visits to OYO rooms across the nation to understand how they were functioning and how the experience can be further refined. In fact, when raising later rounds of funding Ritesh was found meeting the investors with a rucksack on his back- such was his commitment to making OYO a greater product.

How OYO is taking on the challenges of the industry:

Hotel market can be counted among the most unregulated businesses that exist today. The only way to bring a wholesome experience for a customer is to bring in standardization in some of the processes and components. OYO has a 200 point checklist to evaluate any new hotel that wants to come under their umbrella, they also take the burden of redoing the interiors and training the staff to better control the quality of their offerings.

If anyone has visited their “OYO Townhouse” branded hotels, you will get to experience this standardization first hand. They have made so much effort in making every townhouse property look the same as the other one, is commendable. Doesn’t matter if you’re at Delhi or Bengaluru, the townhouse properties give you that similar experience of being at home throughout the country.

Again standardizing properties.and their look and feel is just one major piece of the customer experience puzzle- the other half is the human factor that comes into play in getting the whole experience delivered to the customer. Our readers who are into hospitality industry can rightly attest to my statement when I say, hospitality is the most operationally and human capital intensive business that exists today. The staff plays an important role to either make or break the customer experience and that is where OYO has shown it’s magic.

Apart from having a decentralized management and administration system, they also have one of the brightest minds working to continuously refine their customer-facing apps and perfecting their hotels suggestion algorithms.


All done and dusted, some people still have problems with OYO and it’s founder Ritesh Agarwal.

Some call OYO as a fraud company because they read that somewhere, or debate about Ritesh Agarwal being underaged to run a billion dollar business. These are the same set of people who are still driven by their “consumer mindsets” but guess what OYO is growing and will expand to many more countries in the coming days. It’s not about the age it’s about the work that one puts in to make his ideas turn into a real money-making business.

Back when, when we were 17 or 18 years old the only thing our minds were thinking about was how to bunk the next class or which movie to watch after bunking. This guy was actually running around and getting his hands dirty by putting in the work to breathe some life into his ideas. That alone would be enough to get inspired let alone the fact that he’s heading a 5 billion dollar valued corporation and he’s not even 25 years of age yet.

We can forever be complaining about how old/young I am to start, or we do not have the resources what the other person has.

Truth is, success can only come to those who instead of griping over their own limitations, chose to move ahead by making the best out of whatever they had at their disposal and chose to act now than postponing it for the future.

So, here’s the question for all our readers..,

When a 18-year-old could start, why can’t you?

What is stopping you from starting up?

Let us know in the comments…..

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