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Oravel Raises Investment From Lightspeed VP; Operational Issues

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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