Meet the man who left college to start his business, now he has become one of the youngest billionaires

Ritesh Agarwal’s Success Journey

Ritesh Agarwal, the founder and CEO of OYO Hotels & Homes, has become an inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs around the world.

His journey from a college dropout to a billionaire showcases the power of resilience, determination, and innovation.

Recently, he appeared on Sony TV’s famous show “Shark Tank India” in season 3, and he is the youngest billionaire in the show.

In this article, we will delve into the life of Ritesh Agarwal, exploring his early years, the challenges he faced, and the path he took to build one of the most successful startups in the hospitality industry.

Ritesh Agarwal, the founder and CEO of OYO Hotels & Homes, has become an inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs around the world.

His journey from a college dropout to a billionaire showcases the power of resilience, determination, and innovation.

Recently, he appeared on Sony TV’s famous show “Shark Tank India” in season 3, and he is the youngest billionaire shark (investor) in the show.

In this article, we will delve into the life of Ritesh Agarwal, exploring his early years, the challenges he faced, and the path he took to build one of the most successful startups in the hospitality industry.

Early Life and Struggle

Ritesh Agarwal was born on November 16, 1993, in Bissam Cuttack, Rayagada, Odisha, India. His father runs a small shop, while his mother is a homemaker.

They have four children: two elder sisters, one elder brother, and Ritesh, the youngest. 💼 

Ritesh developed a strong entrepreneurial spirit at a young age. At eight, he discovered his passion for coding and spent hours honing his skills. 🖥️

Ritesh completed his higher schooling at Sacred Heart School in Rayagada, Odisha.

As a teenager, during the summer holidays of seventh grade, Ritesh sold SIM cards in a small Indian town.

Additionally, as an Indian middle-class boy, he pursued preparation for the JEE in Kota, Rajasthan, with the dream of becoming an engineer, following his schooling at St. John’s Senior Secondary School in Kota.

After completing his schooling, Ritesh made the bold decision to move to Delhi in 2011, seeking greater opportunities and a platform to launch his entrepreneurial career.

In pursuit of real-world experience, Ritesh enrolled in the University of London’s International Program at the Indian School of Business and Finance. 

However, he soon realized that his true passion lay in entrepreneurship, not academia. At 17, Ritesh took a leap of faith and dropped out of college to follow his dreams. 🚀

And he married his girlfriend, Geetansha Sood, on March 7, 2023.

ritesh agarwal with his wife Geetansha Sood

The Birth of Oravel Travels

During college, Ritesh developed a strong passion for entrepreneurship and sought to learn more about starting his own business.

He focused primarily on the Airbnb model, as he believed that budget hotels in India failed to meet the basic needs of travelers on a budget. 💼

Motivated by his own experiences and a desire to address this issue, Ritesh founded Oravel Stays in 2011.

Oravel Stays aims to provide affordable accommodation options for budget travelers in India. 🏨

The platform facilitated easy discovery and booking of pocket-friendly bed and breakfasts, private rooms, and serviced apartments across the country. 🌍

Ritesh secured 30 lakh rupees in seed funding from Venture Nursery. 💰

Simultaneously, Ritesh applied for the Thiel Fellowship program. This program, initiated by Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook, targets students under 20 worldwide.

Participants share their business ideas, with the chance to win $100,000 if selected. 🌟

Later, he was one of the winners of the 2013 Thiel Fellowship, receiving a grant of $100,000. 

Overcoming Challenges and Pivoting to OYO

While Oravel stays started well, Ritesh noticed some problems with budget hotels in India. 💡

Wanting to solve these issues, he decided to learn more by experiencing them firsthand. Ritesh stayed in over 100 different bed and breakfasts across India, staying in a new one each night.

During his travels, Ritesh saw that many budget accommodations didn’t offer consistent quality services. 🏨

This discovery inspired him to change his business plan and create what we now know as OYO Hotels & Homes in 2013. 🛌🏽🏠

OYO: Revolutionizing the Hospitality Industry

In 2013, Ritesh relaunched Oravel Travels as OYO Rooms, with a renewed focus on improving the quality of budget accommodations in India. 

OYO, which stands for “On Your Own,” aimed to provide travelers with affordable rooms that offered standardized amenities and services.

During the same year, they also launched oyoroom.com, their website. 💻

In the following year, 2014, they received their Series-A funding. 💰

In 2015, they launched their app and continued to work on expanding. By the end of the year, they had expanded to 100 cities and crossed 10,000 rooms. 📱🌍

In 2016, they expanded to Malaysia, marking their first region outside of India. That same year, they hit the 1 million check-in mark for the first time. 🎉

In 2018, they expanded outside of Asia to the UK, China, and Indonesia. They also launched “OYO Life” for long-stay rental services. 🌏

In 2019, they launched in the US, Europe, and the Middle East. Additionally, they introduced a new model, OYO Workspace, providing well-designed, flexible, and friendly co-working spaces. 🚀

Also in 2019, they acquired the Leisure Group to enter the vacation homes business across 40 countries. 🏝️

Ritesh’s innovative approach involved partnering with small and independent hotel owners, assisting them in upgrading their facilities and operations.

As OYO’s popularity grew, so did its investor base. The company soon joined the coveted “unicorn” club, achieving a valuation of over $1 billion.

Today, OYO Hotels & Homes boasts a network of over 174,000+ hotels and homes across 35+ countries, catering to the needs of millions of travelers worldwide. 🌍🏨

Ritesh Agarwal’s Net Worth 

Ritesh Agarwal worked hard to earn his wealth. 💼 In 2020, he was already a billionaire, having about $1.1 billion, which is around ₹7,253 crore. 💰

But by 2024, his wealth grew significantly, reaching around ₹16,000 crore, almost doubling in just four years! 📈

He’s known for being one of the youngest self-made billionaires globally, meaning he earned all that money himself. 🏆 He’s received a lot of praise for his work in the hotel industry and his business success. 🌟

But Ritesh doesn’t keep all his knowledge to himself. 🧠 He’s helping other people become successful too. 👨‍🏫

He teaches a course called “How To Turn An Idea Into A Billion Dollar Business” to help others learn how to make big money with their ideas. 💡

He’s not just about making money for himself; he wants to help others succeed too. 🌱

Shark Tank India S3: The Richest Shark in Shark Tank India

The Richest Shark in Shark Tank India
Ritesh Agarwal alongside other investors on Shark Tank India

In the third season of Shark Tank India, Ritesh Agarwal is the youngest and richest shark in Shark Tank India.

Ritesh is the only youngest billionaire among the investors in this season, with his wealth estimated to be around 16,000 crore in Indian rupees.

If you want to know more about the net worth of Shark Tank India judges and more, you can quickly visit my other article to learn about the judges net worth.

Conclusion and Key Findings for Ritesh Agarwal

Ritesh Agarwal’s story inspires people everywhere. 🌟 He didn’t finish college, but he became a billionaire. 💼 His determination to solve problems and come up with new ideas took him far. 💡 

Ritesh keeps making a difference in the hotel industry and more. 🏨 His journey shows how resilience, hard work, and chasing dreams can lead to success. 🚀

Muskan, a passionate storyteller and social media manager at Startup Forte. With a talent for sharing impactful founder stories, she invites you to explore inspiring journeys with us.

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