Entrepreneurship can’t be taught in college. Not at least to Ritesh Agarwal. The 25-year-old tech star is the founder and CEO of the country's largest hospitality chain, Oyo.
Agarwal saw an untapped opportunity in small neighbourhood hotels and decided to set up Oyo in 2013.
For a boy, who hailed from small-town Odisha, starting a business was no mean feat. But it might never have been if it weren't for some sage advice from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, the role model of Agarwal.
"Getting mentored by him (Thiel) really changed my worldview and gave me a new perspective to the way I was looking at entrepreneurship," Agarwal had told CNBC in an interview.Agarwal was just 19 when, in 2013, he became one of the fewer than one percent of applicants to be accepted into the Thiel Fellowship program, launched by Thiel in 2010 to nurture young tech talent.
The guidance he received from Theil during the two-year program shaped his vision into the global brand it is today, Agarwal said.
That guidance was comprised of three parts, he told CNBC.
First, he was advised to think something different and exceptional that is specific to the Indian market.
"I learned to trust the power of an unique idea, rather than trying to build an Indian version of a US or Chinese company," Agarwal told CNBC.
Next, Agarwal was advised to aim high and set his sights on capturing the enormous tourism industry in India and beyond.
"Only when I went for the Peter Thiel Fellowship did I learn to think big, to think in terms of creating an enduring, growing, lasting business idea," he said.
Invest In Culture
Finally, Agarwal was told to build a strong workplace culture right from the start.
"He taught me to partner with the right people who shared the same values," said Agarwal, whose high-profile backers include Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Softbank.
First Published: IST