Bangalore: India’s Ritesh Agarwal was among the 10 winners of the 2013 Thiel Fellowship, it was announced on Friday, making him the only winner from the country.

The a 19-year-old Orissa native won the fellowship for the travel site that he founded, Oravel.com.

Started by venture capitalist Peter Thiel, the former founder and CEO of PayPal, the fellowship awards a $100,000 grant to entrepreneurs under 20 years of age, provided they skip college and delve immediately into a business for two years. Agarwal was among the top 1% of applicants for the fellowship who were flown to Silicon Valley for a three-week selection process.

Born in Bissam Cuttack, a village in the Rayagada district of Orissa, Agarwal created Oravel when he was 17. The site now offers more than 3,500 listings for affordable hotels, bed and breakfasts and other accommodations across India.

In September, the company was accepted in the first programme from VentureNursery, an angel investor-backed accelerator, which included seed funding. With the new award, Agarwal plans to expand his work with Oravel.

“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," he said in a statement. “I am looking forward to solving the affordable accommodation problem in emerging economies with cutting-edge technologies."

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