Oravel helps to connect homeowners and property managers with travellers who seek the clean, comfortable, affordable places or holiday rental homes and aims to build India’s first alternative to hotels. The Delhi based startup offers detailed property descriptions, photos and list of amenities and nearby attractions to make it easy to find and compare properties in the country. It is an online marketplace which provides non-hotel accommodation to travellers including, private rooms, serviced apartments, guest houses and bed and breakfasts. It also provides its users theme based properties and offers a unique stay experience to the guests.
Oravel was founded in 2011 by 19 year old Ritesh Agarwal, who comes from a family business background of infrastructure. The young entrepreneur been awarded by EO (Entrepreneurs Organization), NEN etc while he has also authored a best seller-Encyclopedia of Indian Engg Colleges.
We caught up with Ritesh and here’s a sneak peek into his startup’s journey this far.
To anyone who’s never come across Oravel, how would you describe it?
Oravel is an online marketplace for unique and affordable rooms. We also run OYO Inns which are economical, no-frills Inns and mid-scale Suites and we are also trying to build a chain of affordable Inns which provide luxury of three star services at prices half as hotels. When a person travels to a new place and is looking for temporary accommodation, Oravel gives exactly what is required i.e. unique places to stay.
Who do you see as your target audience?
Basically our target users are the short and mid-term professional and leisure travellers, which includes SMB, who don’t want to spend much money for Spa, Gym, Club etc. All they look for is a clean, comfortable and secure room. Sometimes, corporate companies, medical tourist and event travellers also approach us.
How do you differentiate from your competitors?
The market is so cliché that almost everyone is our competitor and no one is our competitor. We are different from our competitors because of the growth speed. We care about customers more than profit and try to understand what they actually want, then build the best products using the technology available to make them happy. This helps us earning in long term customers.
What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?
I have faced a series of challenges in various aspects starting from incorporating the company and setting up bank accounts, as I was only 18 at that time, it even took over three months to hire the initial team. What I can further recall is hustle for solving the major problems, like strategies to be planned and products to be decided. But this was solved after receiving support from Venture Nursery.
Has Oravel got the feedback and growth you expected since launch?
It has grown more ever since the launch of product version 2.0 in August, 2013. It has over 3,500 plus listings and 100 plus inventory with OYO Inns that are majorly spread across North India.
Where do you see Oravel after five years?
Firstly, revolutionizing the accommodation process through high end technology and secondly, spreading globally and disrupting branded affordable room category and making it real and delightful. But the most important vision is to make affordable accommodations for 300 million domestic travellers easy to find.
How important is the role of Social Media for success of any startup?
In today’s world, social media is an important aspect to get more leads and conversion. Everything is getting online and in a scenario like this, social media is a major platform to market business and even improve sales. Social media is not just a place for marketing things but can also be used to build relationships.
What are your plans for promoting Oravel?
Till now we have been pure word of mouth Publicity Company but going forward we are trying to get a bit digitized. We basically reach out to more people on our social platforms and are trying to spread through- Email Marketing, Digital Marketing, Social Media Marketing, and Online Advertisements etc.
What more do you wish to include to take Oravel to next level?
Right now we are soon going to launch our digital apps. And apart from this, we are also looking forward to add more services other than providing accommodation.
Ritesh is of the opinion that as a CEO, it is his job to raise enough money to keep the company scaling at full speed. Till date, the startup has raised funds from Venture Nursery led by Fame Cinemas CEO, Amit Patni and a bunch of marquee angels. Ritesh also recently bagged $100k in Thiel fellowship along with 19 other global entrepreneurs.
So the next time you are travelling and looking for a short stay accommodation that is convenient and without redundant amenities, do not forget to give Oravel a try!