If you haven’t been keeping an eye on India lately, you may be surprised to learn that the country (as a whole, really) is stepping up its game where Uber-like companies are concerned.
Not only are companies like PoochO attempting to regulate the rickshaw business with the help of GPS trackers that let people hail rickshaws from iPhones, but a company called Ola is now Uber’s biggest rival in India.
Ola is a lot like Uber only Ola drivers have their own cars, and the company doesn’t have a bad reputation like the one that Uber has already created in India due to some recent violence. Ola also has something else that Uber doesn’t - a new injection of funding that’s going to put the company over the top.
Some Needed Seed
Ola has recently raised around $314 Million in funding mostly led by Russian company DST Global. DST Global is owned by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner. DST seems to see a lot of potential in Ola, and the new funding will push the company to the frontlines right next to Uber. Previously, Ola gained funding from Japan’s SoftBank Corporation though that particular company did not compete in this round.
Ola will take the money and invest it in technology. The company not only allows users to hail taxis from an app, but also makes it possible to order a rickshaw and food in some locations. The addition of food delivery may seem odd, but it does make sense if you think about it. Ola drivers are already on the road, so delivering food from restaurants that don’t normally deliver is added income for the company.
Ola used its first round of funding to purchase competitor TaxiForSure, and now the company is focusing more on safety (a huge problem in India), and on advanced technology. Currently, the company operates in more than 80 cities throughout India, which is a big jump from the 50 cities the company first started with. Ola has told press that they hope to reach more than 200 cities by the end of the year, which is a massive goal, but also one that the company is more than on its way towards reaching.
The competition for app-based rides in India didn’t stop with the acquisition of TaxiForSure though. Ola has some stiff competition from Uber, and the two companies are currently going head to head in order to get more users. Both companies are offering super low fares, and are even going to the extent to offer free rides to users. There are a lot of people in India that will use a ride app like Uber or Ola, and that’s why this market is so competitive.
Winning the Taxi Race
What will set the winning company apart from the rest is how that company plans to make rides safe. It’s no secret that taxis in India aren’t always safe for women, and both companies have to figure out how to fix this problem. Both Ola and Uber screen drivers, but Uber has already had some problems in India with alleged driver violence. The other issue that both companies face is the demand from the New Delhi government for any ride app company to obtain a taxi driver license.
Getting and keeping a license in New Delhi means that both companies will have to operate like a taxi company by staying open around the clock, and maintaining a fleet of cars and a call center - which defeats the purpose of either company. Still, ride app companies like these two are popping up in India regularly.