Hailing from a businessman’s family in Odisha, Ritesh Agarwal skipped the engineering entrance exam and moved to Delhi in 2011. A year before his 18th birthday, Agarwal was managing his first hotel in Gurgaon. He had founded Oravel Stays to build the Indian version of home-sharing portal Airbnb. In the process, Agarwal would stay at bed-and-breakfast apartments every day. He realised that the biggest challenge in the hospitality space was a lack of standardisation. Around the same time, Agarwal became the first Indian to be chosen for Thiel Fellowship—he received a grant of $100,000 from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel.
Oravel was closed and OYO Rooms, an online aggregator for standard budget rooms, took shape. Today, OYO Rooms is valued at $400 million. It recently raised $100 million (Rs 635 crore) in a fresh round of funding led by Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank Corp. Last heard, OYO was in talks to acquire smaller rival Zo Rooms.