The Thiel Fellowship, originally named 20 under 20, is a fellowship created by Peter Thiel – co-founder of PayPal and first outside investor in Facebook. It is intended for students under the age of 20 and offers them a total of $100,000 over two years along with guidance and resources to drop out of college and pursue other work, including scienific research, creating a startup, or working on a social movement. One of the winners of the Thiel Fellowship is 19-year old Indian resident Ritesh Agarwal.
Agarwal is the founder of Oravel.com, which is an alternative to booking hotels in India. He graduated from VentureNursery Season 1 acceleration program in 2012. Currently, Agarwal is the only Indian resident on the list of “20 under 20” years of age globally.
Agarwal started Oravel at the age of 18
As a Thiel Fellow, Ritesh will use technology to bring affordable and standardised accommodations to emerging economies across the world, starting with India.
Agarwal founded Oravel.com when he was 18 years old. Being 19, Agarwal is one of the youngest entrepreneurs from India to raise angel investments from India's first angel-backed accelerator – VentureNursery.
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 Oravel.com,” says Ritesh who always wanted to solve large problems using cutting edge new-age technologies.”
Then there is Diwank Singh Tomer. Aged 19, now in Palo Alto, CA, Tomer dropped out of his college in India to put his energies into an online platform for learning to code. He loves poetry, and is an exceptional hacker and engineer who was awarded the Mozilla WebFWD fellowship for his efforts to improve learning online.
Tomer has since moved to the Bay Area to further his efforts and is currently working on a collaborative learning platform.
A majority of candidates came from the USA, including drop outs from Harvard, MIT and other elite universities of the USA and the Silicon Valley.