In a exclusive interview to Thinking Aloud, Ritesh Agarwal, founder and CEO at OYO Rooms, talks about the startup ecosystem in India today and what a budding entrepreneur should do to make investors and stakeholders to stand-up and take note.
TA: Amongst the legal registration hassles, funding & resources, what are the perceptions that matter the most to kick off a startup?
RA: None of these matter actually. The only thing that matters is the mission to change the world by trying to solve a problem and building a great team to do it. If you are really determined then no perception can affect you.
TA: Startup guidance is all about encouraging the urge of budding entrepreneurs & channeling their startup aspirations. Share your kind thoughts about capturing the attention of the investors.
RA: When you are genuinely passionate about trying to solve a problem and are doing great work, you will grab the attention of the investors. Your business model should have the potential and your approach should be innovative.
TA: We believe that Startups are all about building habit-forming products & services. What’s your take on it?
RA: I believe start-ups are all about solving problems and bringing in really effective solutions. It is the solutions that are habit-forming, as the pain-points of consumers are removed.
TA: How would you address the ways to gain market share, enhance brand recognition & differentiating a brand in the startup ecosystem? Any valuable points would you like to add?
RA: Having built a mass consumer brand, I will say only three things matter- consumer experience, consumer experience and consumer experience. Just focus on delivering exceptional and unmatched consumer experience and all other things will fall in place.
TA: New-age Indian Startups are on a path of revolutionizing the industry. Any entrepreneurial clichés that you would want them to get beyond?
RA: ‘Do everything yourself’ is an entrepreneurial cliché I think most people should avoid. When I started OYO Rooms in 2013, I was running one OYO property in Gurgaon where I was the housekeeping guy, the manager, the sales executive and the CEO. But, that was not by choice. From the beginning, I knew the importance of building a strong team. Get people who are the best at what they do and give them the freedom to do their work. Be involved, but you can’t be heading all teams.
TA: Established bigwigs in the industry still prefer traditional spends rather than digital spends. How big a role would digital play in the success of Indian startups?
RA: As TV and newspaper are shrinking, the digital spends are significantly increasing globally and they are going to get bigger with time. I believe digital will play a big role in the success of Indian start-ups. Also, you cannot ignore the fact that the leading start-ups in India are tech-based and hence, digital spends make a lot of sense.
TA: Recently, OYO Rooms garnered a partnership with Venuepick, would you kindly shed some light on the development?
RA: Through our partnership with Venuepick, we plan to give a comprehensive solution to the people who are looking for accommodations plus venues while organizing events. Before every partnership we do, our biggest concern is how to maximize the consumer experience through the partnership and how the partnership will result in making the services of OYO better. For instance, our partnership with OLA was formed to solve the basic problem of transport to OYO properties; similarly our partnership with Zomato was forged keeping in mind the connection between food and hospitality; to enable our guests to discover restaurants near their place of stay.