This Article is From Aug 06, 2015

At 21, He's the Mind Behind Multi-Million Dollar Start-Up OYO

21-year-old Ritesh Agarwal, a college dropout, once used to sell sim cards to survive.

New Delhi: Just 21-years-old, Ritesh Agarwal says his life is nothing short of a film script, and it is hard to disagree.

Ritesh is making headlines after his start-up, a technology driven network of hotel rooms got funding of USD 100 million (Rs 636 crores) by SoftBank Japan.

But it's not just the money that's making news. What's also caught peoples' eye apart from his age, is his story.

A college dropout, who once wanted to sit for an engineering exam, Ritesh today heads among the most valuable start-up by a person who never studied beyond school.

He even sold sim cards to survive, afraid his well off family would end his entrepreneurial dreams and summon him back home to Odisha if they knew of his struggles.

In Kota, where he was ostensibly preparing for his IIT entrance exams, Ritesh says he couldn't wait every weekend to slip out to Delhi and meet those doing their own thing.

At just 18, Ritesh set up Oraval Stays in 2011, a hotel rental startup, which is now Oyo Rooms in a new avataar.

When we meet him, it's hard to not spot the quirks, he's barefoot because he says shoes are restricting, or the famous backpack which he carried around with all his possessions for years, not knowing where he would spend his night - stairwells being regular beds.

But the man making waves has also had his share of controversy, questions about his style of functioning, ouster of a cofounder and even non-payment of salaries. Ritesh, however, refuses to get into this, saying he doesn't want to fan the flames.

With industry body Assocham now saying innovators and entrepreneurs will form the next billionaires club in India by 2020, its people like this who will perhaps script the next chapter of India's entrepreneurial journey.