Start-up to success: OYO

OYO Hotels and Homes is one of the first choices that comes to our mind when we think of affordable and comfortable accommodation while on a vacation. The success of OYO as a hospitability empire has been enormous, and it has been growing ever since the inception of the company in 2013 by Ritesh Agarwal.

OYO stands for ‘On Your Own’. And OYO has been a leading venture in the avenue of budget-friendly rooms along with offering commendable hospitability services. The company has been adding ways to improve its quality and services for the consumers over the years.

The origin of OYO

Ritesh Agarwal aspired to be a coder, and left for Kota in 2009. However he later realised that coding was not for him. Meanwhile he wrote and published his book ‘Indian Engineering Colleges: A Complete Encyclopaedia of Top 100 Engineering Colleges’, which turned out to be a hit. He was then selected for Asian Science Camp held at Tat Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai. Later he was among 20 students under 20 who received Thiel Fellowship with a sum of $100.000 for two years. Thus providing him with the resources to drop out of college to start something of his own.

Since Ritesh Agrawal travelled a lot and stayed in different hotels, he realised the poor condition of the hospitality sector, and was motivated to start Oravel Stays in 2011, which was later relaunched as OYO Hotels and Homes in 2013. He envisioned OYO as the all-encompassing accommodation system where people could enjoy all the best facilities of hospitality sector in a budget.

Eventually OYO spread all over India, generating revenue of 51 lacs in 2013-14 and 2.4 Crores in 2014-15. OYO also bagged investment from big shot companies like Lightspeed India, Sequoia, Softback and most recently Microsoft in 2021.

The Struggles of OYO

OYO did not become a success overnight. It had to endure its fair share of struggles and setbacks on its way to success. OYO was surrounded with allegations of cheating and fraud. In 2019, a Bengaluru hotelier accused OYO for not paying his dues. However, OYO rejected such claims.

Other instances includes the death of a national level shooter in an OYO hotel due to electrocution, and an OYO employee raping a women, and a few more. In all these cases OYO clarified its stand and coped with authorities to help with the investigations.  

Other then such instances of setbacks, OYO also had to deal with the obstacles of COVID-19. Like all businesses, the hospitality sector was also hit severely with the pandemic. The hospitality sector revenue generation was down by 50-60% in 2020, as a result the OYO employees had to go through a pay cut of 25%.

Success of OYO

After dealing with its fair share of struggles and shortcomings, OYO has established itself as the World’s third largest and fastest growing hotel chains and home and living spaces. After 8 years of business OYO operates in 800 cities in more than 80 countries. It has 23,000 hotels under, 850,000 rooms and 46,000 vacation homes worldwide.  

In 2019, OYO generated a revenue of $951 million, and is believed to revive itself from the effects of pandemic in the coming years. Ritesh Agarwal was declared the youngest CEO at 17, he was also declared the world’s youngest self-made Billionaire after Kylie Jenner in 2020. And he has a number of other titles to his name such as Forbes 30 under 30 and much more.

                      Nonetheless, the biggest takeaway is that, a teenager with an entrepreneurial mindset manifested his dreams into reality and made it big to a billion dollar industry. Ritesh Agarwal has an inspiring story that can surely encourage other young minds.