When OYO CEO Ritesh Agarwal was tipped Rs 20 for cleaning a room


Ritesh Agarwal. Twitter/@riteshagar

Entrepreneurs often deal with many worries in the early days of their business. Successful people know that making it big is not an  easy process, and there may be more failures than successes. But this does not deter people who are determined to leave their mark in the world. OYO CEO  Ritesh Agarwal is one of them. During a recent interview with Biz Tak, the OYO boss shared an incident from his early days. He revealed that there were times when in addition to managing his own hospitality company, he served as cleaning staff and front desk manager.

Early Career

When he was 19, Ritesh Agarwal dropped out of college. This made him eligible to receive the prestigious Thiel Fellowship, established by billionaire Peter Thiel. He was the first Asian recipient of the honour, which awarded him a $100,000 grant. The money enabled Agarwal to return to India and start his hospitality business, OYO.

Interview with Biz Tak

Ritesh Agarwal told BizTalk of an incident where he encountered an angry customer while cleaning a hotel room. “Unhone badi daant lagayi ki 10-minute ho gaya (He scolded us because we were late),” he said. The customer mistook Ritesh Agarwal for a member of the cleaning crew because he and his team were cleaning another room at the time. The OYO CEO was reprimanded for the delay but he was surprised when the customer gave him a tip of Rs 20 as a token of appreciation.

On Twitter, Ritesh Agarwal highlighted a pressing concern regarding the role of housekeepers and desk managers. He wrote, “The real stars of the hospitality industry are the front office managers, cleaning crew, receptionists and behind-the-scenes staff who ensure guests have the best possible experience during their stay. Early on I got to experience this first-hand when a customer tipped me ₹20.”

Ritesh Agarwal elaborated on his early career days in an interview with Humans of Bombay in 2020. The 26-year-old spoke about his childhood in Odisha and the experience of studying in Kota and how he grew up to become what he always wanted to be – an entrepreneur. He said, “I was a small-town boy with big dreams” adding, “I grew up in Rayagada in Odisha, in a middle-class family. But I always had the entrepreneurial bug.”

He further said, “During those initial days, I even worked as a hotel employee-servicing rooms, babysitting, and even playing UNO with customers-and sometimes getting tipped for it all as well!”

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