Ritesh Agarwal, founder and group CEO
an online brand aggregating independent budget hotels in India, OYO Hotels and Homes now says it is one of the world’s largest hospitality companies with franchised and leased properties in India, China, Japan, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Europe and
the United States. At The Phocuswright Conference, founder and group CEO Ritesh Agarwal will give a keynote address on the company’s growth to
date and his plans for future expansion.
In a series of interviews with executives participating at the event in Florida in November, PhocusWire finds out what makes them tick...
What book do you recommend to others and why?
Zero to One by Peter Thiel -
Peter Thiel is someone I look up to. The book has played an important role in
shaping my approach towards life, both from a business and personal
perspective. It successfully encapsulates the strategy behind running and
sustaining a business, which is the most important thing to learn for an entrepreneur.
It’s an inspiring and thought-provoking read that teaches you how to think
like a leader.
Chocolates on the Pillow Aren’t Enough: Reinventing the Customer Experience by Jonathan Tisch - this book by Jonathan Tisch, the chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels & Co. and
one of the most respected leaders in travel and hospitality in the U.S., is a
quintessential read for anyone working at a consumer-facing business.
Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is
Shaping our Future by Ashlee Vance - I admire Elon Musk’s risk-taking and innovative mindset a lot. One key takeaway
for me was how critical risk-taking is when it comes to building a transformative enterprise
that is ahead of its time. His passion to ensure a bright future for
humanity is tremendously inspiring.
OYO Hotels and Homes
What do you do to alleviate stress?
Speaking to customers about their OYO experience makes me feel great about the
kind of impact we are creating across the globe. Hearing the feedback from them - the
positives and the areas where we can improve - is a significant
part of our learning process and excites me the most. I truly believe that work
is life and life is
work. It is symbiotic.
What was your childhood aspiration?
I always wanted to do something new and interesting,
something different from the norm. I started with selling SIM cards while exploring
unique areas and opportunities like being a pilot. I ended up being an entrepreneur and absolutely
cannot complain about it.
Who is the person you most admire within the industry?
Peter Thiel is someone that I look up to. The mentorship I
received from the Thiel Fellowship and the quality of ideas I was
exposed to were on par with the best business schools, but the icing on the
cake was that I got a
chance to learn everything while actually pursuing my dream.
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Another individual who inspires me is Bill Gates - what he
achieved with Microsoft is incredible, but what I admire the most is that he
knew the right time to leave and share his wealth with real people in the world and impact their lives.
How do you want to be remembered as a leader in your
As a leader, you have the most important job to do, lead the
vision, drive the business, motivate your team and sustain. Your business
is your brainchild. You have to nurture it. That’s why I call myself the chief clarity offer at OYO
and want to be remembered in the same way.
What is your proudest professional achievement?
Success is always measured based on the impact that we have
created. Since the inception of OYO Hotels and Homes, our focus
has always been on creating affordable, high-quality living spaces for travelers and a conducive
business environment with sustainable returns for our asset owners. During this journey, we have created
over 300,000 direct and indirect jobs across India, the U.S., South Asia and China while training young
We see a huge
opportunity in front of us of building a global brand that is truly from India.
Our foray into international geographies is a testament to the hard work and
perseverance, every leader and OYOpreneur (employee) has put into building OYO Hotels and Homes as the
chain of hotels that is currently present across 800-plus cities in 80
What's your morning routine?
I prefer starting my day early and going through the emails
and WhatsApp messages received from different teams from across
geographies - India, the U.S., China, Europe. This helps me in keeping up with
the teams and assisting
them with strategic decision making and effective time management throughout
the day. I regularly do yoga early in the morning for physical
What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t
learn from your resume alone?
I like learning new languages as it helps me understand the
local nuances of geography. Currently, I can communicate in English,
Chinese, Hindi, Telugu, Haryanvi and Marwari (the local language of the community I belong to). With
OYO’s global expansion, I am truly looking forward to expanding my horizon with respect to
learning new languages.
Describe the setting
where you do most of your work.
You can find me
working out of the OYO offices in India (Gurgaon), Shanghai, Beijing and the U.S. In the middle of the office, working with my passionate and
mission-driven OYOpreneurs towards making a difference.
I sincerely enjoy working together with all my colleagues as
a part of a single-directional plan. We are ardent believers in putting
our heads down and executing.
Hospitality at The Phocuswright Conference 2019
Hear from Marriott, Wyndham, Airbnb, OYO, HSMAI and Booking.com.
Network with many others including RedAwning, Awaze, Airbnb, Hilton, Vrbo,
Radisson and RedDoorz.