Man behind OYO Rooms: Ritesh Agarwal

Ritesh, the entrepreneur who became a millionaire at 23.


Age and Family-

A college dropout, who once wanted to sit for an engineering exam, Ritesh today heads among the most valuable start-up by a person who never studied beyond school.
He even sold sim cards to survive, afraid his well off family would end his entrepreneurial dreams and summon him back home to Odisha if they knew of his struggles.
In Kota(Rajasthan), where he was ostensibly preparing for his IIT entrance exams, Ritesh says he couldn’t wait every weekend to slip out to Delhi and meet those doing their own thing.

Life Story-

Chapter 1-

In 2011, Ritesh moved to Delhi with intentions of starting up something of his own and at the same time to prepare for SAT to move to the US for further studies.But fortunately or unfortunately, SAT never happened. Hence, he used to do nothing but meet and read about entrepreneurs, start-ups and businesses.

Now, Ritesh during his days had seen and always felt that budget hotels in India didn’t even meet the very basic needs of a budget traveller. Hence, capitalizing on this opportunity, he started his first venture in 2012 – Oravel Stays! It was an aggregator of bed and breakfast stays across India.

In a matter of no time, he also secured funding of Rs 30 lakhs from VentureNursery, an accelerator firm which brought together a bunch of storied investors to nurture start-ups.

With sufficient money in his pockets, he started working on his new found interest and at the same time, he also presented his idea at the Thiel Fellowship – a global contest intended for students under the age of 20. He managed to reach amongst the top ten winners who received a sum of $100,000.

Ritesh even got Manish Sinha of Gurgaon based Cinnamon Stays, as their co-founder but unfortunately, it still didn’t help and Manish eventually had to quit the company. As a matter of fact, they even tried replicating the AirBnB model but that also didn’t work and the company was not able to pick up or get substantial transactions.

Chapter 2-

 Got motivated again to create an online yet social community to bring information about all good places together at one platform. And as a last stress site Ritesh tweet about the new business model and in 2013 he relaunched Oravel as Oyo Rooms.

 The name Oyo means “on your own”, nothing but an idea to create India’s largest chain of efficient, young and standardises budget rooms. Later in 2014, the company raised rs4cr from Lightspeed Venture Partners and DNG computer partners.  Now Oyo Rooms are the largest venture in India and out of India.


  • Awarded the TiE-Lumis Entrepreneurial Excellence Award (2014)
  • The first resident Asian to win ’20 Under 20’ Thiel Fellowship (2013)
  • Named one of the Top 50 Entrepreneurs by TATA First Dot Awards (2013)
  • Finalist of Global Student Entrepreneurship Awards-India
  • Named one of the ‘8 Hottest Teenage Start Up Founders in the World’ by Business Insider (2013)
  • World’s Youngest CEO at 17(recognized at 16)

For more information and to learn about more such entrepreneurs visit xpert(

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