Entrepreneurship - a field with age no barrier

Capitalizing every opportunity, Ritesh Agarwal’s first venture came into existence in 2012 by the name of 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 Venture Nursery, an accelerator to nurture start-ups. His belief was that one should always try because if you try, you always have a chance to succeed. With this determination, he presented his ideas which were appreciated at the Thiel Fellowship – a global contest intended for students under the age of 20 and then began the journey of a young entrepreneur.

With the newly built confidence, his work started very rigorously, but to his hard luck, his business model didn’t seem to be picking up the expected momentum. Ritesh got Manish Sinha of Gurugram based Cinnamon Stays, as their co-founder, but Manish eventually had to quit the company. They even tried replicating the AirBnB model but that didn’t work. That was when Ritesh realized that one of the biggest problems while traveling is to find a good, affordable and most importantly, an “available” hotel to stay in. With this thought, he went to a hotel in Gurugram where he had stayed once and which only had a 15-20% occupancy. He made a deal with the hotel that if he increases the occupancy to 90% , the two would become partners. Having managed housekeeping, sales and customers’ feedback, he secured 95% occupancy and inquiries from other nearby hotels too!

In the very beginning, the revenues were very less. Due to this, many a times, he was thrown out of the rooms because of pending rents. There were days when he had to sleep on stairs. Even with Rs23 in his bank account, the young man didn’t quit. His perseverance paid him back. Ritesh tweaked his present business model and in 2013 re-launched Oravel as “OYO Rooms”. He returned to the same place from where he had been kicked out and paid a premium on the rent. In January 2013, he had 1 hotel in Gurugram and today, OYO rooms is India’s largest branded network of hotels.

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