Home >Companies >News >If you meet a 17- or 18-year-old entrepreneur, just invest in their firm: Vishal Gondal founder and CEO of GOQii

I first met Ritesh Agarwal in 2011 when he was 17. A common friend had introduced us. At that time, he was attempting to start Oravel—a website that would list and help book home accommodations across India. It was similar to the AirBnB model.

At the time of pitching, Ritesh’s ambition was to hit 9 lakh bookings a month in four years. He wanted to expand Oravel to 30 cities in India and 650 crore in annual revenues.

It was very interesting to meet this young boy with such bold ambitions. I wasn’t sure I wanted to invest in Oravel. I had my doubts on whether Indians would want to live in strangers’ homes, and the numbers he projected looked crazy big. However, I didn’t want to decline it either. So, I decided to wait it out and see how Oravel progresses.

However, Ritesh is extremely smart. He researched deep into the feasibility of Oravel and, in the blink of an eye, pivoted to OYO.

The rest, as they say, is history. The best venture capitalists around the globe have invested in OYO. Unfortunately, I completely missed the opportunity and, if I had a time machine, the only thing I would want to do is to go back in time and undo my decision.

OYO’s progress under Ritesh’s leadership has been incredible. It recently announced 99 million rooms booked in December 2018. I don’t think there’s anyone who would doubt that OYO will soon be the world’s biggest hospitality player.

I’ve learnt a few crucial things from this. One, the most important thing to look for is if it’s a smart entrepreneur you’re betting on. The ideas, strategies, and ways to accelerate the startup will change from time to time. Two, don’t be on the fence. Decide one way or the other. Three, if you meet a 17-18 year-old entrepreneur, just invest.

I was offered 15% for 30 lakh at that time. Truly my billion-dollar mistake.

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