21-year old Ritesh Agarwal has created India’s largest network of budget hotels in less than two years.
“I am not being arrogant when I say I re-imagined how new-age hospitality will look like. In just one and a half years we are bigger than the country’s largest hotel group by a factor of four,” Agarwal, the current poster boy of India’s start-up world, told CNBC.
At 17, the engineering dropout tried replicating Airbnb but wasn’t successful. He traveled the country working pro bono for start-ups when he hit upon the idea of building a tenable chain of budget hotels from the existing supply of low-end, unprofessionally run guesthouses that are ubiquitous in India.
Currently, OYO Rooms partners with 3,000 guesthouses across 125 Indian cities. It markets these small hotels online under the OYO brand and works with them to offer basic quality at one-third the market price. Agarwal’s disruptive strategies worked and venture investors, including Sequoia Capital and Softbank, have already poured $125 million into OYO Rooms. He employs more than 1,500 people, with a Harvard alumnus as his COO, and has a company valued at an estimated $400 million, reports CNBC.