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Oravel Raises Investment From Lightspeed VP; Operational Issues

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oravel(By NT Balanarayan & Vikas SN)

Online short stay accommodation booking site Oravel.com has raised undisclosed amount of investment from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Medianama has learnt from multiple reliable sources. When contacted, Oravel CEO Ritesh Agarwal confirmed that they have raised investment from two institutional investors but declined to disclose the names of investors or the investment size.

Lightspeed Venture Partners Dev Khare declined to comment on it, saying he is currently out and can speak only on Monday. We have also texted him requesting a confirmation or a denial, but he is yet to respond since.

Prior to this, Oravel had raised undisclosed amount of seed funding from angel investors like Fame Cinemas founder Shravan Shroff, former Starcom MediaVest Group South East & South Asia CEO Ravi Kiran, Everest Flavours managing director Anand Ladsariya, Nirvana Venture Advisors co-founder and chairman Amit Patni and Aditya Birla Private Equity CEO Bharat Banka.

The company was also part of the first batch of VentureNursery’s accelerator program and Oravel CEO Ritesh Agarwal had received a $100,000 grant as part of 2013 Thiel Fellowship program in October 2013, which Agarwal has told MediaNama, he has invested in the venture.

Founded in February 2012, Oravel allows users to search for short stay rooms and apartments in India, quite similar to how AirBnB works. Users can list their serviced apartments, boutique properties and villas and travelers can book these properties from the site, although Oravel claims it lists only hand picked properties, based on the quality of the apartment.


Operational Issues

Oravel claims to have around 3,500 rooms across multiple locations in India, but appears to have been facing issues with its website and booking services: one of the two telephonic booking numbers mentioned on its website wasn’t functional, while the other said that it was only currently allowing bookings for Oyo Hotels. Oravel’s updated website (which appears to be still in the process of being updated) doesn’t mention its co-founder and apparently former COO Manish Sinha on its ‘Team’ page.

On being contacted by MediaNama earlier this week, Agarwal had confirmed that the company had temporarily scaled down operations after two senior executives on the tech side had left the company: the search on the website (we checked then) was yielding no results, and even now, it is slow to load. However, the website does allow users to book apartments online via the city links on its websites, and Agarwal told MediaNama that all bookings are being honored. Oravel has also scaled down its telephonic booking only to Delhi-NCR region from mid-February 2014 onwards. He said that the company is currently hiring in tech to address the website issues. The funding raised would help, and Agarwal said that the company has enough money in the bank for a year and a half.

Other players in this space include AirBnb which which entered the Indian market in 2012, Blume Ventures-backed TripVillas and Bnb4delhi. Matrix Partners backed Stayzilla also focuses on low-cost hotels in tier 2 and tier 3 cities.

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  • ajay joshi

    Your reporting is like India TV :(

    • why do you say that?

    • Asis Bab

      It is Bala Naryanan not BABAnarayanan who wrote this post

  • Akhil Gupta

    I will take the liberty of elaborating on Ajay Joshi’s comment, perhaps with a little spice.

    I am glad that the authors of this post could see beyond the funding-aura of the startups they covered and actually tried using the product before writing a report on it. However, it appears that the very reason the authors wrote about this startup is because it received funding. Nothing else about it is newsworthy.

    There is a growing trend among startup-focused digital-media – they take the higher moral ground on topic of fund-raising by saying that funding is just the beginning of the problem and we should not pay too much attention to it. But when a startup gets funded, they are the first one’s to glorify it. This is very akin to newspapers brandishing the high salaries their students get, rather than focusing on the nature of jobs they get.

    So let us see some journos who put their money where their mouth is – i.e. focus on startups with substance rather than startups with funding. Despite not being a journo, I can name several startups who are doing a far better job in this space – but don’t have any funding to boast of yet, by design.

    • ajay

      SUBSTANCE IS KING : Akhil well elaborated, nobody is enamored by somebody receiving funding, what we like is our fellow countrymen innovating and reporters should should highlight that.
      Balance is important
      We as readers are free to read, follow, comment so that it brings improvement.

      • Akhil Gupta

        True that!

        It is great to see startups getting much needed love and attention; but my point is that the love and attention should not be restricted to only those startups who raise external funds, but also to those who without any external funds are building quality products.

        • Anonymous

          Ajay, Akhil, and others, well said. As an accelerator founder, I also feel most of the participants in the startup biosphere are obsessed with funding – entrepreneurs, angels, VCs, media. I get the questions ‘how many of your graduates have got funded’ or ‘how many exits have you got’ that I have stopped answering those questions. Recently, we took a decision not to announce the names of start-ups when they join our program, it just adds to the cacophony and takes the focus away from the real purpose. I hope we can stick to that decision.

          On a separate note, I quite like the fact that the writers of this story went beyond just the funding news, did some digging around and spoke to the promoter, even if the start-up they wrote about is close to my heart and some of what was written is not palatable to me, personally. I respect the website because of that.

    • Akhil: I would appreciate it if you not include us in “startup-focused digital media” because we are not that. This story was going to go up with or without the funding bit.

      During the course of investigating the issues that Oravel was facing, we found out that they’ve just raised funds. Even before we contacted the founders and investors, we called up the call center to check on where it is at. The funding is the leading peg of this story, but you’ll notice that operational issues also find a significant mention.

      We are, by and large, a news site. Funding is news. Launch of a new site, is, for us, is less so because of the sheer number of me-too’s in the market. We do cover startups, but to a much lesser extent than others because our primary focus is on more established digital companies. If you see the rest of the coverage on MediaNama, you’ll see that startups get less of a play. We want to change that, but not at the cost of our regular coverage. We have limited resources. There are three of doing editorial. We are currently trying to hire someone who can focus on startup coverage.

      We have not glorified funding, but we have, and will continue to report it. If you think our reporting is glorification, then you’re mistaken.

  • Raxit

    Congrats on Funding, Startups are having ups n downs n people leaving company etc… Look forward for bright future…

    Good luck!

  • Rohan Bhatia

    This is a 100% fake news. First of all the complete team got dissolved due to non-clarity and fakeness.This people have ZERO knowledge of they want to do.my friendd has left with all the fellow team mates #LOSERS