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Scroll through any list of the wealthiest people in the world, and you’re likely to find a slew of familiar names: Bezos, Gates, Buffet, Zuckerberg. But if you’re looking for someone with a bit more youth and ambition, look no further than India’s youngest billionaire, 28-year-old Ritesh Agarwal- just a 25-year-old man who became the youngest billionaire in India.
With a net worth of $1.5 billion, Agarwal has made a name for himself in the hotel industry and shows no signs of slowing down. So how did this young entrepreneur make such a splash in such a competitive market? Read on to find out!
A College Drop-Out to Youngest Billionaire in India
Ritesh has always been a very determined and ambitious young man. Moreover, he’s been willing to take risks and isn’t afraid of hard work. These are some of the traits that have served him well in both his business ventures and in his personal life. Given his enormous success so far, it’s evident that he’ll dominate the industry in the future too.
Founder and CEO of Oyo Rooms, a budget hotel chain in India, Ritesh has a very inspiring story. He started the company at the ripe age of 20 when he dropped out of college.
What followed was a classic rags-to-riches story. Agarwal bootstrapped the company by raising money as he pitched his business idea to hotels. Oyo Rooms had become one of India’s largest budget hotel chains within a few years.
The current estimated Agarwal’s net worth is $1.1 billion. On Your Own, now famous for Oyo, has an annual turnover of US$550 million, making Agarwal the youngest billionaire In India.
Agarwal’s early years
Agarwal has always been a bright mind who had the zeal to achieve something from a very young age. Besides, his passion and determination are undeniable. Studying at St. Johns Senior Secondary School, he started coding at the age of ten, considering he was a curious tech freak.
At thirteen, he started to sell sim cards as a hustle. Agarwal got into the Indian School of Business Academy but dropped out early from the course. Furthermore, he started prepping at Kota for IIT in 2009.
Later, he also won the Thiel Fellowship program 2013, a 2-year program initiated by Peter Theil, PayPal Founder. Not to mention, he was the first Asian to have obtained Thiel Fellowship.
What inspired Rithesh Agarwal to start Oyo?
Apart from his academic and professional achievements, Agarwal used to love travelling.
Agarwal was inspired to start Oyo after his mediocre travelling experiences. He was struck by the vast discrepancy in quality between the hotels he stayed in.
There was a lack of basic facilities such as AC, hot water, Wi-Fi, comfortable bedding, and breakfast options. The hotel owners had a monopoly in the business without considering good hospitality for visitors. People were forced to pay hefty amounts for such an experience and never be satisfied with their stay. Before Oyo, very few hotels considered providing these basic amenities.
He recognised that there was a huge opportunity to improve the quality and consistency of Indian hotels and set out to do just that. For his Oyo rooms startup, he got a grant of $100,000 after representing his idea and plans to the investors. He aimed to make quality, affordable hotel rooms available to everyone.
The funding furthermore made it feasible for him to work on his venture. This was more of a passion project for this future youngest billionaire in India. Thanks to Ritesh’s hard work and determination, Oyo has become one of India’s leading hotel chains, with its presence in over 800 cities.
Oyo started with just one hotel in 2013 in Gurgaon. Now, it covers more than 46,000 vacation homes, 23,000 hotels, and 850,000 rooms.
What Made Oyo a Success?
Oyo Rooms has been a staggering success story in the Indian startup ecosystem. Starting off as a budget hotel aggregation and standardisation platform, Oyo Rooms today is the largest hospitality company in India, with a wide range of budget hotels across the country.
The astonishing growth of Oyo Rooms can be attributed to several factors, such as its strong execution capabilities, innovative approach to hospitality, and an extant market opportunity.
In just a few years, the company managed to grow from a small startup to one of the leading hotel booking companies in the world. But what exactly is the secret behind their success?
Here are a few key factors that led him as the youngest billionaire in India:
They offer great value for money
Oyo Rooms offers exceptionally competitive prices, making them very popular with budget-conscious travellers. Moreover, Oyo constantly offers discount codes and coupons to ensure the visitors get maximum value for a satisfactory stay.
They’re present in multiple countries
Oyo Rooms now operates in hundreds of cities across India, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brazil, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, and even the United Kingdom. This means there’s always an Oyo Room available whenever and wherever you need it.
Collaborating with the right people
The company has detailed standard operating procedures for all its partner hotels, which helps ensure customer quality consistency. Moreover, it has built an excellent team that efficiently on-boards new partner hotels and ensures a set standard of services.
Throughout their services, they have consistently maintained high standards regarding room quality and customer service, which has led them to build a loyal base of repeat customers.
Another key driver of their success has been aggressive marketing and brand-building initiatives targeting both customers as well as hotel owners. Since Oyo started, it has been a popular choice for travellers for comfort and budget stays. They do not need to count on overpriced local hotels.
Oyo invested in technology to create a user-friendly app for bookings and customer service. The app is easy to navigate, and anyone can book their stay. Overall, this made Oyo very trusted and well-recognised in India and other countries.
OYO’s global domination
Over the years, the Oyo founder has rubbed shoulders with other business tycoons globally and has proven his self-made status. Agarwal is not just the youngest billionaire In India but has been acclaimed globally.
He was present at the India Inc. Businessman and met former US President Donald Trump. His introduction to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Trump was no less than an achievement in itself.
After OYO got the green light of success, Softbank backed OYO in launching operations in the US. Some other investors of OYO are Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Providing services in over 313 hotels in the US alone, OYO has built an incredible portfolio in hotel and real estate operations.
Agarwal has been featured in Bloomberg 50 list as The Amazingly Ambitious Hotelier. He was also on the list of the 50 most influential people in India by India Today and the Tycoons of Tomorrow by Forbes India. The Huron list featured him among the list of 90 billionaires below the age of 40.
He is the 2nd youngest billionaire who’s all self-made in the world, as per the list, after Kylie Jenner, the first youngest self-made billionaire. However, there was an argument about Kylie not being self-made due to her family background. For those who agree with this, technically, Agarwal is the youngest self-made billionaire.
Challenges that Come Along with Being Youngest Billionaire in India
The COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t kind to any business. As a result, OYO had to restructure and lay down many of its employees. This brought defamation to the company from the workers. Many hoteliers protested during this time as they lost their livelihood.
Another issue with OYO has been the criticism for not doing enough to protect customer data. There have been many privacy breaches where the user data such as phone numbers, booking IDs, date of bookings, and locations were leaked. This made visitors question their safety, drying the stay.
Now you know how Ritesh Agarwal became the youngest billionaire In India.With his constant hard work and brilliant brain. As a young and ambitious entrepreneur, Agarwal sets an example for others looking to make it big in the business world.
Moreover, his success story shows that anyone can make it big in life if they have the right mindset and ideas. He saw an opportunity in the hotel industry and took a chance to realise his dreams. Furthermore, he has already achieved a great deal at such a young age, and there’s no doubt that he will continue to achieve even more in the years to come.