Oravel.com founder Ritesh Agarwal and BITS Pilani – Goa Dropout Diwank Singh Tomer have bagged the prestigious “Thiel 20 Under 20 Fellowship”. After facing 4 gruelling selection rounds, these two teenagers will now be mentored by Entrepreneur Stalwarts like Sean Parker, Founder of Napster and Elon Musk, Founder of Tesla Motors.
About The Thiel Fellowship
Thiel Fellowship is a two-year program wherein fellows receive $100,000 and mentorship from the foundation’s network of tech entrepreneurs, investors and scientists Started in 2011 by Paypal Founder Peter Thiel, The fellowship aims to give 20 bright young things $100,000 each to quit college and start a company. The fellowship has helped start 30 companies and have raised a reported $34 million thus far, from venture investment, sales and revenue, sponsorships, and awards.
Declaring the results earlier this month, Peter Thiel said that “The time is clearly ripe for innovators to develop new ways to help far more young people obtain the knowledge and skills they need to build productive, successful lives.”
Unlike past years, there were bit more international than they have been previously, with participants from Canada, Britain, India, China, and Singapore.
As for India, Ritesh and Diwank kept Indian Entrepreneurship Industry’s Flag held high.
Ritesh Agarwal is the founder of Oravel.com, a website which offers alternatives to hotel booking in India. He has a team of 15 teenagers who look after the site with him. Agarwal’s Oravel went through the startup accelerator program offered by Venture Nursery in July 2012 and had raised seed funding from angel investors.
Inc42 did a small Q&A with Ritesh. Here are some excerpts :
1. How does it feel at winning this prestigious fellowship?
Being part of Thiel Fellowship is a humbling experience. I never thought I could make it, because of the exceptional quality of talent and passionate and driven entrepreneurs, mostly in their teens. I made it because of the sheer process and quality of execution achieved at Oravel.com.
2. Why did you apply for this fellowship?
Peter Thiel was the Midas of the valley and had read phenomenal stuff about him hence this seemed like a good manner to improve my skills as an entrepreneur and gain mentorship from the best. Thiel Fellowship mentors like Elon Musk and Sean Parker are an inspiration to the world. Just getting the opportunity to be mentored by them is phenomenal.
3. What is your plan ahead with Oravel and this fellowship?
Oravel is at its nascent stages and the growth for the previous 3-4 months has been amazing – we would expand it across the country in the next 1 yr before taking it across South Asia. The Fellowship will act like a catalyst improving the sheer speed, support, mentorship that will help bolster our growth.
4. Message for readers at Inc42
The world will not change and solve the problems itself; we need to do it; time is now, the person is YOU!
The other Indian, Diwank Singh Tomer dropped out of his college, BITS Pilani – Goa Campus to work on an online platform for learning to code. Aside from his love for poetry, he is an exceptional hacker and engineer who was awarded the Mozilla WebFWD fellowship for his efforts to improve learning online. He has since moved to the Bay Area to further his efforts and is currently working on a collaborative learning platform.
Please comment in on what you would have to say about these two exceptional entrepreneurs and their new found success.