OYO Hotels & Homes was founded by 25-year-old Ritesh Agarwal, the first resident Asian to be accepted to the Thiel Fellowship (started by Paypal founder Peter Thiel). Traveling across India at the age of 17, Ritesh stayed in more than 100 bed and breakfasts, guest houses, and hotels to realize there was a massive dearth of affordable and good-quality hotels in the unbranded budget hotel category. With this in mind, he started his entrepreneurial journey with Oravel Stays, which was a platform for listing budget accommodations, only to conclude that discovery alone will not solve this problem. More often than not travelers and city-dwellers were forced to compromise on location, quality, and price, and Ritesh wanted to fix this problem using technology and talent. Ritesh believed that everyone deserves a beautifully designed, chic and comfortable living space. And everyone deserves a better life. He believed that he could change the way people live. He did that by upgrading bland, generic spaces and places and designing them with next-gen chic and design moxie and offering them at hard-to-ignore prices. That’s how OYO was launched in May 2013 (known as OYO Hotels & Homes now). OYO today is the world’s third-largest, and fastest-growing chain of hotels, homes, living, and workspaces.
Today, Ritesh is one of the youngest and most successful founders in the world and has been honored at several forums, for creating a global disruptor in the form of OYO Hotels & Homes.
His honours include:
- Forbes Tycoons of Tomorrow List
- EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2018 - Services
- CNBC’s Young Turk of the Year (2019)
- The Open Republic Achievers Awards - Business New Age category (2019)
- StartAP Entrepreneur of the Year Award (2018)
- Dataquest IT Person of the Year (2018)
- Best Entrepreneur of 2018 by the International Hospitality Council (IHC) (2018)
- GQ India - 50 Most Influential Young Leaders (2016, 2017)
- Real Innovation Awards by London Business School
- Forbes 30 under 30 - Consumer Tech (2016) (Global, India, Asia)
- Fortune 40 under 40 (2016)
- The Economic Times 40 under 40 (2016)
- Asian Centre’s New Age Entrepreneur Award (2017)
- Gaurav Samman by The Government of Haryana (2017)
- NDV Dream Chaser of the Year (2016)
Ritesh sets the overall strategic vision and direction for the company which has spread its wings across the globe. With the @Leisure Group joining the chain, recently rechristened as OYO Vacation Homes, OYO today has footprints in more than 800 cities across 80 countries - UK, US, Europe, India, China, Malaysia, Nepal, UAE, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, Japan and Vietnam. OYO is backed by leading investors, including the SoftBank Vision Fund, Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed Ventures, Hero Enterprise, and China Lodging Group, amongst others. The company recently raised $1 billion and gained the unicorn status.