‘We Have Always Been a Driver and Community Focused Platform’
We are very excited about launching Ola in Australia and see immense potential for the ride-sharing ecosystem in a country which embraces new technology and innovation. We have always been a driver and community focused platform which truly understands the farreaching benefits to both the transportation ecosystem and the economy at large. We, at Ola, strongly believe in collaborating with local stakeholders to make it a win-win for everyone. As our platform expands into multiple Australian cities, we will continue to build on these values and philosophy t o create a high-quality and affordable travel experience for both drivers and riders in Australia.
Ola the Preferred Transport Platform in India Ola has managed a bigger market share in India from the global giant Uber. What was your success mantra and lessons learnt during the journey?
At Ola, our mission is to build mobility for a billion people and in pursuit of the mission, we have built a multi-modal transport ecosystem that is inclusive in nature. People have different mobility needs depending on the use case, and Ola has managed to build a convenient, smart, safe and affordable platform to access various forms of transport to suit every mobility need. Starting from bikes that provide affordable and quick last-mile connectivity in smaller cities, to outstation and rentals that have standardised a largely unorganised sector, to Ola Play – the world's first connected car platform for ride-sharing, Ola has led the way in the evolution of India's mobility sector. Ola has always taken a localised approach towards building mobility solutions from ground-up, that has made life convenient for people. Over 125 million people across 110+ cities log on to the Ola platform in India for their everyday mobility needs, which stands testament to Ola's popularity.
In February 2018, you expanded operations to Australia and New Zealand, both the markets were dominated by Uber, what made you do that?
Our objective is to comprehensively enable on-demand transportation as part of the shared economy, and we are currently one of the world's largest ride-sharing companies. Over 1,000,000 driver-partners operate on the Ola platform. Since 2011, Ola has built a multi-modal transportation platform in India with options such as cabs, auto-rickshaws, electric vehicles, and bikes. Ola has become the preferred platform in India due to our ability to build tech-enabled transport solutions ground-up. Unlike other forms of internet-driven commerce, ride-sharing is real-time with a lot of technological challenges yet to solved. Hence, it made logical sense to expand internationally.
You share a common investor, SoftBank, with Uber. How is a clash of interest being avoided?
Globally, ride-sharing has become the new normal for travel, fundamentally changing how we commute every day. This change and growth is being witnessed in different parts of the world at the same time. Hence, it makes absolute sense for global investors including SoftBank to bet on fast growing global ride-sharing companies like Ola and others.
What are some of the strategies you have co-opted to carve out your space in the markets of Australia and New Zealand, which is dominated by Uber?
We invested a lot of time in understanding the customers in
Australia, UK and New Zealand, and devising the right strategy to suit their respective transportation needs, as well as conducting a thorough study of the markets before launching operations. We continuously engage our driverpartners through a variety of channels to listen to their suggestions and feedback and provide assistance with unique benefits to improve convenience and earning potential. Ola is the first ride-sharing company in Australia, UK and New Zealand to offer daily payments to driver-partners. For customers, we have been providing affordable fares and are welcoming feedback on every ride as we work to deliver a safer and more affordable travel experience. We have a history of launching and delivering our solution in over 100 cities, of all sizes, and as a result, the Ola platform has the versatility to adapt to any environment, including various international markets.
You also have plans to expand to the UK by the end of the year. What would be your approach to enter one of the most evolved transportation markets?
Ola is hugely excited to reveal its plans for the UK, one of the world's most sophisticated transportation markets, with incredibly tech-savvy passengers and drivers crying out for a responsible, new competitive player. We greatly admire the UK as a fantastic country to do business and we look forward to providing a great service that can help the UK meet its mobility needs Ola is firmly established as one of the world's leading ride-hailing companies and our extensive plans for the UK mark a natural but significant next chapter in our global expansion story. Ola started its first UK services across south Wales, including in Cardiff, Newport and Vale of Glamorgan in August 2018. Drivers on the ridehailing specialist's platform will reap the benefits of market-leading introductory commission rates – as low as 10 per cent for Private Hire Vehicle drivers and 5 per cent for Black Cabs (taxis).
As the Indian consumer base and the Western market is completely different, what are some of the innovations that you have brought in?
In our mission to build mobility for a billion people, Ola has always built solutions from the ground up, to suit localised transport needs. Ola brings a refreshed approach to ride-sharing in Australia, by being driverfocussed. Ola is the first ride-share platform in Australia to enable daily payments for drivers apart from offering market-low commission rates of 15 per cent, which translate to increased earnings for driverpartners and accordingly, better experiences. Happy drivers mean happy customers. We continue to work with various communities and regulatory bodies to build a longterm sustainable transport solution in every market we operate.
Since 2011, it's been a short ride, do you think you have consolidated enough to expand?
In the seven years that Ola has been operational, we have evolved to be one of the world's largest ridesharing companies. Ola introduced India's first mobile app for personal transportation. Ola was the first transportation platform to offer auto rickshaws, kaali-peelis and taxis at government regulated rates. Ola Play, is the world's first connected car platform for ride-sharing transforming commuting experiences and setting the tone for global innovation in this space. Beyond offering a highly personal experience for users during their rides, Ola Play also allows its partners like Microsoft, Apple Music, Sony Liv amongst others, to build a high-quality interactive and productive experience for its users. In May 2017, Ola launched India's first fully electric fleet for ride-sharing and has committed to bringing over a million electric vehicles on Indian roads by 2021. Over a million entrepreneurs operate on the Ola platform as driver-partners and operators. Innovation is Ola's DNA and we have always endeavoured to build smarter, more convenient and safer mobility ecosystem that is driven by a hyperlocal approach. Ola's international foray has been a logical evolution for us to meaningfully expand the business. We continue to look for further opportunities to build a world-class company out of India.
What marks the success of any new venture?
Ola announced its international expansion in January this year with Australia being the first country to launch. Since then, we have rapidly expanded across 7 major cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Canberra and Adelaide. We have received great response from both driver-partners and customers, and in many ways, it has exceeded our expectations. Over 50,000 driver-partners operate on the Ola platform and we recently completed the milestone of 2,000,000 rides. More and more driver-partners and customers continue to choose Ola as their preferred mode of transport in Australia, which reinforces our confidence in building a successful business out of Australia that's localised and solves mobility needs for every Australian.