In a bid to support Indiaâ€™s growing startup ecosystem and young entrepreneurs Ritesh Agarwal will step in as an advisor and work closely with the countryâ€™s largest incubator Venture Catalysts (VCats) to promote entrepreneurship across the countryâ€™s tier 1, 2 and 3 cities. India, which is a buoyantly growing start-up ecosystem, one of the biggest and fastest growing in the world needs more and more experienced and successful people to step forward to help each other and collectively grow the ecosystem and help the country become â€˜atma nirbhar bharatâ€™ (self reliant bharat).
Ritesh is taking a step forward in this direction, to give back to the country and his fellow entrepreneurs, along with Dr.
Apoorv Sharma, who was one of the first people who had backed Ritesh’s vision when he started Oravel Stays in 2012, and established OYO in 2013.
As an entrepreneur, hailing from Rayagada, Orissa, who started his journey at a young age, Ritesh realises the importance of mentorship and guidance needed specially for young and early stage founders. He fondly remembers how different people across the start-up ecosystem have played important and strategic roles in enabling OYOâ€™s sustained growth and expansion. He believes that a start-up requires support at various levels in its early days. While it is imperative for founders to have the right vision, focus, perseverance and patience, the role of people like Dr. Apoorv who supported,
mentored and guided him, is critical and key to success.
On the new association Ritesh Agarwal, commented, â€I started OYO at a very young age and at a time when the ecosystem was not fully developed. I was fortunate enough to get some great mentors like Dr Apoorva, Bejul Somaia, and many others, who guided and supported me in my start-up journey.
Today, many former OYOpreneurs have started their new ventures and are doing really well for themselves. Now that I have established myself as an entrepreneur, I think it is time to give back to society and support entrepreneurs like them.â€
â€Through this collaboration with VCats, I intend to enable the young entrepreneurs coming from the smaller towns of India, who do not get similar opportunities that their peers in bigger cities or metros get. I am confident that we will be able to discover the next big idea from a tier 3 or 4 town,â€ added Ritesh, who at an age of 19 was selected for theâ€20 under 20â€ Thiel Fellowship. He was one of the first resident Asian to be accepted to this coveted fellowship, established by renowned venture capitalist Peter Thiel to support innovative ideas to entrepreneurs under the age of 20.
â€œWe are thrilled to be collaborating with Ritesh. He is currently on the board of MDI University and has been the first Asian to receive the Thiel Fellowship, which shows his journey, grounds up. I was one of his early supporters, and am really happy to see his commitment to continue supporting students and young founders in India. Riteshâ€™s insights will prove tremendously valuable to entrepreneurs as we continue to execute our plan to build a robust infrastructure for startups in all the Tier 1,2,3 and 4 cities across India. His learnings will help many upcoming entrepreneurs that have potential to become the next Unicorn but have very limited access to the right support and mentorship,â€ commented Dr Apoorva
Ranjan Sharma, founder of Venture Catalysts.
Dr Sharma, who has a PhD in incubation, is one of the founding fathers of Indiaâ€™s startup ecosystem since 2000. He pioneered the concept of incubation in the country and has established over a dozen incubators and accelerators before starting VCats in 2015.
VCats, which is now the worldâ€™s seventh most active early stage investor and integrated incubator as per a ranking by Crunchbase of TechCrunch, is known for developing and nurturing early-stage startups. The Mumbai-based incubator has a deep presence in over 30 smaller Indian towns such as Jaipur; Raipur, Bhubaneswar, Vizag, Rajkot and Ahmedabad amongst others. VCatsâ€™ immense capability to spot the big idea in those towns and cities has resulted in the discovery of startups such as Beardo, BharatPe, Fynd, Supr, and Coutloot among others in various sectors ranging from FMCG to FinTech.