What is OLA all about?
Remember the good old days where people had to travel kilometers to find an auto or those black and yellow striped cabs. This company has put an end to the struggles of the common man. Getting rejected by the cab/auto drivers was never an unfamiliar hassle for Indians about a decade ago, to put an end to this misery was the Ola cabs that provided cab services to anyone, anywhere to travel anyplace, anytime. The best part about this was the fact that all this became feasible just with a couple of clicks using the mobile phone which is always available. Ola- the company that provides rides on peer-to-peer sharing basis, auto rides and also now is venturing into food delivery.
How OLA came into existence?
Ola came into existence on the 3rd of December in 2011. That is close to about a decade ago it was first started as a cab service in Mumbai but now the Main office of the Company has been shifted to Benguluru and the company operates from this city. It was started by the versatile duo Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati.
The mobile application was developed by ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd. The Ola cab emerged with a noble intention to bring cab ride seekers and ride providers on a single integrated mobile application platform. There by providing convenience to the customers to commute from one place to another throughout the city. The cab provides different options of commute from Auto to Luxury there by fulfilling its intention to cater mobility services to all classes of people and in over 150 cities.
About the Founders and Co-Founders:
Bhavish Aggarwal hails from Ludhiana, Punjab but has lived in UK and Afghanistan while growing up. He studied Bachelor’s from Indian Institute of Management in Computer Science and Engineering. Followed by a short yet successful stint in Microsoft as an Intern and then as an Assistant Researcher filing about two patents and publishing a few papers. This is true evidence of his intelligence and hard-working nature. This then led him to Co-found Ola along with Ankit Bhati
Ankit Bhati, who is a humble, down to earth being but does not seem to enjoy much limelight, He hails from the city of Jodhpur, born and raised in a middle-class family; he believed computers were a luxury and when he ended up in the large world of the Indian Institute of Technology- Bombay, he spent most of the time in front of the Computer trying to figure out the various aspects of this mind-blowing invention. Due to this keen interest in computers he became the distant spectater of Ola’s growth while he burned the midnight oil to get the software right and the coding aspects of it. The former was a seller and the latter a coder and the duo are taking convenience and cabs commute to a next level.
Investment and Valuation
As of May 2019, Ola has a valuation of about $6.2 billion. A varied range on Inventors like Softbank has huge stakes in the company. The largest funding that came their way after the first year of initiation and it was by Tiger Global who invested $5 million in a Series A funding. In 2015 Ola got Investment from Sequoia Capital and Softbank. There are a lot of other Lead investors like DIG Investments, Deshe Holdings, Kia Motors, Hyundai Motor Company, Sachin Bhansal. Sachin Bhansal who is the owner of Flipart has solely invested $92Mn. Apart from this a lot of other minor Investors have invested in the company.
The Journey so far:
It mostly so happens that the reason for a startup coming into being is not exactly the final outcome, the founders of Ola started the company to give transport people who wanted to travel long distance, surrounding the city. Initially it just had the landing page where people ended up when they wanted to book a cab and the founders got an e-mail of the customer, they physically called all the near-by cab companies and tried to find out if someone was available. Slowly the realized that the people were more keep to book cabs for a functions, events and parties over trying to go outside the city and that is how ola came to being.As the company started to scale, the drivers were individually handpicked by the founders and as the started to grow they brought in automation in this process.
Their first office was based out of a mall and was an area of 10 by 10. Their humility is evident when they say they used to share a wall between them and a neighboring tailoring shop with whom the shared tea. The duo kept shuttling between Bangalore and Mumbai and realized they couldn’t handle long distance crisis, therefore ended up setting their company in Bengaluru. With that the slowly started notice competition from Uber and another home grow company called TaxiforSure which they ended up acquiring to become the solo competitor for Uber and growing from there on.
Obstacles faced and overcome:
Apart from the obviously evident issues like the safety and tracking there are a lot of other obstacles that the company had to face. The safety issue was dealt with by introducing the SOS option on the app which sends an emergency alert also by removing the child-lock from all the cabs. The tracking system and sharing of ride details was introduced to cater to safety concerns as well.
There were other obstacles like bans and strikes, which the company successfully overcame the most recent ban being on the Ola taxi and auto in Karnataka by the Government in the March of 2019 for 6 months which was going to cause a huge loss as Bengaluru is one of the largest revenue generator for Ola but by successfully negotiating with the government the ensured that the ban was lifted within a week by paying a penalty of 15 lack INR. And is now running successfully expanding all around.
Expansions and future plans
Ola has started spreading its wings across cities, countries and now continents. Having started its journey from Mumbai and Bengaluru now has expanded to Pune, Delhi, Hydrebad, Chennai and so on upto around 150 cities all over India. The first overseas expansion was to Australia, then moving on to New Zealand and finally to UK. Where auto Rickshaws were introduced for the first time. This diversification did add as a cherry on the cake for Ola
The Ola application is already a strong network of 1.5 million drivers across the world and the company intends to launch in over 50 countries across the globe reaching high end gulf and European markets. The immediate expansion being in Netherlands, doing so will put Ola in competition with its next big player in the European market Taxify. We hope to see the how the expansion grows.
Impact on the society
Ola has provided job opportunities to around a million drivers across the country. That is definitely a huge impact on the employees and their families. It did not just stick to the traditional Cab drivers but also moved on to auto drivers who had to depend on luck of the passerby to give a ride in contrast to how they are able to be beaming with Business.
On the other hand where the commuters had to either use the public transport and wait for hours in the sun/rain for them, but now are able to travel anywhere with just a click of a button and at affordable prices. Definitely Ola fixed a huge gap in the system by bringing the commutes and ride givers on the same platform.