In Feb 2020, the founder of OYO, Ritesh Agarwal became the second youngest billionaire in the world with an estimated net worth of Rs. 7,800 Crore ($1.1 billion) in the Huran Global Rich List 2020. But, do you know how he started?
Find out the journey of this young entrepreneur in this Infographic Biography. His success story will encourage you to follow your dreams.
Ritesh Agarwal’s early life
Ritesh had a pretty ordinary childhood like many Indian kids. Born in a middle class family, Ritesh did a simple schooling like the rest of us. However, there was a difference in him and others. He was interested in computer and had an entrepreneurship dreams right from his early days. And yes, he was born in a Marwari family.
During schooldays, Ritesh even thought of becoming a pilot but he made up his mind to become a coder when he finishes 10th.
So, to achieve his dream of becoming a coder, Ritesh moved to Kota, Rajasthan to take up a coaching class for IIT entrance exams. May be he wanted to study computer engineering?
After reaching Kota, Ritesh seemed to have lost his interest to sit for an engineering exam. Instead, he kept travelling to Delhi every weekend and stayed at budget hotels to experience about the budget hotels and accommodations.
Finally, 18 years old Ritesh moved to Delhi with a dream to start something of his own and also to prepare for SAT for further studies in the US. Meanwhile, he also enrolled at a business school.
Chasing his dreams
If you see his journey, I think young Ritesh Agarwal was kind of confused like many other teens.
He wanted to sit for an IIT entrance exams.
He prepared for SAT to move to the US.
Ritesh joined a college for a few days.
He wanted to become an entrepreneur.
Ritesh kicked off the first three options and finally chose his passion i,e to follow his entrepreneurship dreams.
Lesson is: “You can’t sail on two boats”
Luck favors him
Ritesh’s stories say that he was incredibly hard working with a firm determination to achieve his dreams. At a very young age, he had sleepless nights and took many risks to achieve what he is today.
While many of us at his age were trying to complete school with good marks and get into good colleges, he already had dreams to build something of his own.
But, there’s always a role of luck in shaping success, right?
If he didn’t drop out of college, he would not have been eligible to apply for Peter Theil Fellowship. Actually, his entrepreneurship journey changed after he won the fellowship. He was not only the first Indian but also the first Asian to win the prestigious fellowship.
The news of Ritesh winning the fellowship was everywhere on news. He became the ‘poster boy’ of entrepreneurship in India. He moved to the US and got rounds of fundings later.
But as they say, successful people make their own luck.
Early Copycat – getting inspired
As you already knew many of the Indian companies, from Flipkart to Ola are not original in ideas. They are either inspired or copied from other already successful business models from the US and other countries.
They succeed in India because of many reasons and one of them is definitely ‘copying early’ (means they quickly replicate successful models).
So the same with OYO.
Ritesh’s initial idea was to clone Airbnb. He even spent days, months reading about how Airbnb works. Then, he bought BistroStays, an Airbnb clone from a third party and started Oravel.com. The third party was fully developing and managing the website while Ritesh was busy with the business part and looking for funding.
After a year, Oravel was pivoted to become OYO Rooms with some innovations and somewhat different business angles.
But, the conclusion is, Ritesh might have not built OYO if he didn’t think of starting an Airbnb clone during his initial journey?
What’s even more interesting is, last year Airbnb invested $150-$200 million in OYO.
Ritesh Agarwal’s controversies
Successful entrepreneurs always get criticism and that’s obvious. From Steve Jobs to Elon Musk, many of the successful people were criticized, sued, or even pulled down by their ex-partners or somebody who knew them in the starting.
In case of Ritesh Agarwal, it’s even more interesting. The young entrepreneur was criticized and called out in the past for lying and faking by people whom he had worked with.
According to reports, the real Ritesh was never a coder, which he pretends to be. He didn’t write the best selling book nor was he among the best selected students for TIFR, which he claimed and it is verified by Mint media. ‘The idea of OYO was not even his’, and it was brought up by his ex-partner Manish Sinha after Oravel failed to get online bookings.
How about the infamous company of which he became the youngest CEO in India? It turned out that his brother is one of the directors and the company was registered only in 2011.
It is reported that ‘he even made these claims while applying for Thiel Fellowship and during his early stage of funding’.
Ritesh Agarwal’s starting days stories of coding, being broke, the idea of OYO, and spending sleepless nights outside his room in Delhi, all seem dubious.
But who cares?
A 26-years-old built one of the largest hotel chains in the world and became the youngest billionaire in India.
Also Read: How Paytm Founder Vijay Sharma Started