Ritesh Agarwal is one of the youngest stars of India’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Having started Oyo rooms at 18, and building it into a company that’s credited with being a disruptor of the hotel industry in India, he knows a thing or two about starting young and going big.
While today Ritesh is a seasoned speaker who is a regular on the startup circuit, four years ago he was just another entrepreneur trying to make his mark. In 2013, when a Quora user had asked a question on how to start up at 18, a then 19-year old Agarwal had jumped in to answer. His answer, while quite endearing (like any 19 year old, he talks about girlfriends and mobile phone bills), is also full of sage advice. His answer also predated his Thiel fellowship stint – at the end of his answer he mentions how he’s still a finalist. Ritesh had eventually won the coveted fellowship that pays $100,000 for young students who choose to drop out of college and start their own businesses.
Before I write the answer, some quick overview about me.
I am Ritesh & I started my first company at 13 and currently turned 19 while I runOravel.com – India’s #1 and fastest growing marketplace of clean, comfy, affordable rooms + strong management team (Ivy, IIT & large company alum) with a growth of over 20% every week + successfully raised investments from Venture Nursery (Fund backed by some very accomplished angels in India including Shravan Shroff (Fame Cinemas Founder), Ravi Kiran (Ex Starcom CEO) etc !)
– It’s all about passion. Being a 16yr old; dating women, partying, studying etc could be ideas. But the love for running a company, solving a problem, have millions use your product is something one needs. If one persists that below are things you could look at!
– Meet people who’re running companies .. meet a lot of them. I used to attend every conference of TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) and talk A LOT with those people i.e. entrepreneurs. I met Mr Sanjeev Bikhchandani from India’s most accomplished Indian companies – turned out to be one of my first idols.
– WORK WITH STARTUPS/ENTREPRENURS :No matter how smart, cool, great you’re – there is no substitute to real experience. Meet and work with entrepreneurs; thats where you’ll learn great basics of running a company and yes, awesome connections on your way ahead.
– Use your advantages: Some great advantages of starting at 18 – you’re frugal; you can afford to be (fun bit: you don’t need to pay for anything other than your girl friends bills, if you end up having one :D), try something wild and new (for example Facebook) & get all your smart friends to work with you!
Having said it all, there is no hard and fast rule to start a company at 18. I am a strong believer of “Paulo Coelho’s: ‘And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.’
So, stop thinking and be awesome instead.
P.s. I am the finalist invite to SF from Peter Thiel(Facebook’s 1st Investor) for The Thiel Foundation‘s 20under20 where he invests $100,000 in 20 Entrepreneurs under the age of 20 – Strongly recommend.