Thiel Fellowship for Indian startup wiz

Last Updated: Fri, May 10, 2013 15:04 hrs

San Francisco/New Delhi, May 10 (IBNS) The list of the prestigious Thiel Fellowship winners 2013 include a 19-year old Indian resident Ritesh Agarwal, founder of, a rising popular stays alternative to booking hotels in India, and graduate from Venture Nursery Season-1 acceleration program in 2012.

Ritesh is the only Indian resident on this list of "20 under 20" years of age globally. Born in Bissam Cuttack village in Odisha, Ritesh set up when he was 18.

Agarwal, 19, is one of the youngest entrepreneurs from India to raise angel investments from India´s first angel backed accelerator, VentureNursery in 2012.

He runs popular, a popular stays alternative to hotels in India and OYO Inns, a chain of affordable, tech-enabled inns.

As a Thiel Fellow, Ritesh will use technology to bring affordable and standardized accommodations to emerging economies across the world, starting with India.

As part of the selection process, Ritesh was in the US for three weeks, including 15 days at the Silicon Valley, Stanford University and Mountain View which included working closely with Thiel Fellowship team, top Silicon Valley Venture Capitalists (VCs) and entrepreneurs.

He also presented a paper at the World´s Largest Tech conference 'Tech Crunch Disrupt' in New York.

Born in Bissam Cuttack village in Rayagada district in East Indian state Orissa, Ritesh went to Sacred Heart School in Rayagada. In his early teens Ritesh was motivated by Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. And closer home Anil Agarwal of Vedanta was his ideal.

Sharing early hurdles to his success Ritesh says, "My family initially wasn´t very happy about my decision to quit studies and turn an entrepreneur. However, after the mentors explained the potential to them the amount of support I had from the family was amazing."

"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," says Ritesh who always wanted to solve large problems using cutting edge new-age technologies.

Majority of candidates came from the USA, including drop outs from Harvard, MIT and other elite universities of the USA and the Silicon Valley.

Following a rigorous process evolved by the Thiel Team only the best one per cent were flown to San Francisco by the Thiel Foundation.

Twenty who made it to the Fellowship shall receive $100,000 from Thiel Foundation and mentorship and support of Peter Thiel and the community including Sean Parker, Co Founder, Facebook and Napster; Elon Musk, Co-Founder of 3 billion dollar companies--Tesla, Paypal, Space X.

"My acceleration process at VentureNursery has been the most vital contributor for this fellowship. Intensive acceleration process by a dozen plus mentors and experts led by Ravi Kiran and Shravan Shroff helped me mature from a young passionate founder in me to be a 'still learning' and an accountable startup CEO. The support and partnership helped us grow both emotionally and monetarily," says Ritesh.

"I see this prestigious honour as a tremendous opportunity to changing the world with the Thiel Fellowship and VentureNursery support.

"The Thiel Fellowship mentors like Elon Musk, Sean Parker are an inspiration to the world; just getting the opportunity to be mentored by them is phenomenal.

"I am looking forward to solving the affordable accommodation problem in emerging economies with cutting edge technologies. With the current growth of our company we are well on our path to do it," adds Ritesh, as he breaks the joyous news with to his colleagues.

The Thiel Fellowship awards a no-strings-attached grant of $100,000 to skip college and focus on their work, their research, and their self-education. Peter Thiel is a German-born American entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and hedge fund manager who co-founded PayPal and served as its CEO.

He is on the Board of Directors and was the first outside investor in Facebook, and was ranked #293 on the Forbes 400 in 2011, with a net worth of $1.5 billion as of March 2012.

Peter Thiel said, "When we created the fellowship more than two years ago, our intention was to help a small number of creative people learn and accomplish more than they might have otherwise.

"To their great credit, they have exceeded our expectations, and inspired people of all ages by reminding them that qualities like intellectual curiosity, grit, and determination are more important than a degree in determining success in life."

More from Sify: