Start Up- This is a term that is currently familiar by most of the Indian crowd, this is the solution to all those brains that are inclined towards business, towards making their ideas into a reality. Until some five years back, this was a term that was quite unfamiliar to most of us, while there were start up’s being born around the country, the idea did take quite some time to get familiarize with. Today India stands third with the largest startup ecosystem in the world, according to a recent survey conducted by the IT industry body Nasscom. Many of the startups that were started just few years ago now have their own start-up stories of success. One such story that inspires the youth of the country is the story of OYO rooms, a solution from the expensive hotel rooms that an average Indian population can’t afford.
OYO Rooms is currently the country’s fastest-growing branded network of hotels and rooms. It has tie up’s with over 500 hotels in India and a turnover of around 360 crores per year. This startup doesn’t do any out of the box, but just provides travelers with budget-friendly rooms that are efficient, clean and available across Tier I and Tier II cities in the country. This successful business was founded and is run by a young man, Ritesh Agarwal, a successful entrepreneur at the age of 23. The startup story of OYO and Ritesh is quite an interesting one.
The Inital Journey
The story of Ritesh Agarwal seems more normal than you think. He came from a business class family in Cuttak, Odissa. Ritheh as a child had a deep interest in programming and computer. He used to try and get hold of his elder brother’s software books and learn them and try them out. By the age of 15, he was so good with coding that he wanted to take it up for a living.
At the age of 16, he was chosen to be part of the Asia Science Camp held at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai. It was around this time that Ritesh was preparing for IIT in Kota. He had a deep interest in traveling and would often travel to areas around including Delhi, Mumbai, and Pune. Since he was still a student, he used to stay at odd bed and breakfast places and sneak in to attend events, conferences, and lectures that interested him. And that is where it all began!
The beginning – Oravel
It was in 2011, that Ritesh moved to Delhi thinking of starting something on his own. He used to read about a lot of start up’s that were becoming popular at the time, entrepreneur’s and businesses. With his experience of staying in various bed and breakfast joints, he was aware that India lacked budget-friendly hotels and the hospitality sector didn’t meet the need of a budget traveler. It is from his own experience that the startup stories of OYO began, by seizing the opportunity, Ritesh started Oravel Stays in 2012. In a short term rental for bed and breakfast joints and private rooms. But, it was only a matter of time before funding started coming in.
With proper funding, Ritesh could see his business gaining its profit and becoming a ghit. It was at this point that he presented the idea Theil Fellowship a global contest conducted for students under 20. Mind you, he was 18 at that time. In the contest, Ritesh not only manages to reach amongst the top ten winners but also the guidance and resources needed to create a startup from none other than Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal and one of the investors of Facebook. However, luck was not much on his side, as the business models they were using simply didn’t seem to work out at all. Whatever he tried, it simply would not fall into place.
Oravel to Oyo
However, Ritesh was not ready to give up yet. Thinking over and evaluating his own experiences while traveling and finding budget-friendly rooms, he decided to create an online platform that would carry all the information about good places to stay. He tweaked his business model on this idea and presented it as OYO Rooms in 2013. Oyo rooms were nothing fancy. It had no spa’s, swimming pools or gyms. However, what it promised was on fulfilling the basic standard of rooms including basic amenities and cleanliness for prices like never before. The idea was a hit and OYO Rooms was too.
They decided to tie up with various hotels around the country and left no stone unturned. They would make sure that the hotel met their expectations and that it was up to the OYO standardizations through visiting and auditing. It was a win-win situation as the hotels that lacked customers had customers pouring in and OYO was getting the credits and funds. Within a year, there were investors pouring in and the successful journey of OYO Rooms had just begun.
Currently OYO Rooms is living its startup stories along with its founder Ritesh Agarwal. It has gone to become the country’s first technology-driven network of branded hotels and has a wide presence across the country.
More than often, hotels are termed as OYO nowadays, even though the venture doesn’t own any of them. Recently, OYO has been branching out to opening up the possibilities of co-living, a similar idea of hostels and PG’s aiming at college-going students and working professionals.
Further, they are also looking into providing co-working spaces, a solution for start up’s and young entrepreneurs who are desperately in need of office like working spaces. Winning awards and hearts of people, OYO continues its success stories, inspiring many other startups’ in the country.