Uber said to beat Ola within the next 30 days

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

Eric Alexan­der, pres­i­dent of busi­ness in Asia for Uber Inc. talks about sur­pass­ing ri­val Ola in terms of mar­ket share in In­dia, learn­ings from dif­fer­ent global mar­kets and about Uber's strat­egy to part­ner with lo­cal com­pa­nies to per­form bet­ter lo­cally.

Edited ex­cerpts from an in­ter­view: Uber is cur­rently No. 2 in In­dia and in China. How are th­ese mar­kets shap­ing up for you, es­pe­cially In­dia?

In­dia and China are the two fastest grow­ing mar­kets in the world for Uber, pe­riod. In­dia has grown very fast at al­most 40% month over month.

In Jan­uary last year, we were at 5% mar­ket share. Now we are right at the edge of 50%. I would say that within the next 30 days we would beat them (Ola). We will sur­pass them very, very shortly.

We have grown faster in our core busi­ness and we have fo­cused re­ally hard on qual­ity. Scale and qual­ity are two re­ally dif­fi­cult things in this busi­ness, we have tried to fo­cus hard on qual­ity and that has helped us win.

Your com­peti­tors Ola, Didi Kuadi, Grab and Lyft have formed a so-called global al­liance. How are you pre­par­ing to tackle their com­bined might?

My opin­ion is that it's a great an­nounce­ment. But the way I look at the busi­ness is that the cus­tomers drive our core busi­ness. So you use Uber in Mum­bai on reg­u­lar ba­sis, if you go to Delhi you will use Uber there too.

Let's say when you travel to Thai­land, you know our prod­uct, so you are go­ing to use it there too. We are yet to see what kind of ex­pe­ri­ence it is like to do cross dis­patch of book­ings in­side the app and it will be in­ter­est­ing to see how they do it. That's a lot of work, prob­a­bly lot of en­gi­neer­ing ef­fort that I would ar­gue won't be a nee­dle mov­ing fac­tor in the busi­ness.

We think that if we can win you at home then we can win you abroad. We be­lieve that our brand glob­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally will be much bet­ter re­ceived by cus­tomers. You got four dif­fer­ent brands, you have Lyft, Didi, Grab and Ola, whereas you have just one Uber across the world.

If I just stay fo­cused on my core busi­ness and con­tinue to move cus­tomers and keep them happy, they are go­ing to use us wher­ever they go.

What are the learn­ings that you've ac­quired from other mar­kets such as China, which you have im­ple­mented here in In­dia or else­where?

We are present in 400 cities across 68 coun­tries. We have learned a lot from open­ing all those cities over time. So we have got faster, bet­ter, with less ex­penses added.

One of the big­gest lessons is that the way to suc­ceed in lo­cal mar­kets is to part­ner lo­cally. You can­not do ev­ery­thing on your own.

We hire the sons and daugh­ters of In­dia to run our busi­ness in In­dia. We think we are just as lo­cal as Ola is.

In In­dia you have part­nered with sev­eral star­tups, Zo­mato and Practo be­ing some of them. Are you look­ing at more part­ner­ships with In­dian star­tups? You will see some in­ter­est­ing ones be­ing an­nounced shortly. Any ser­vice that re­quires peo­ple to move, and there are a lot of them, you will see us in­te­grat­ing the Uber ex­pe­ri­ence in them.

Th­ese part­ner­ships will span ar­eas such as air­lines, ho­tels, rail­ways etc.

All of th­ese things mat­ter greatly for mak­ing our prod­uct ac­ces­si­ble and easy for the con­sumer. We al­ready do a lot of work with PayTM and you have seen us do a deal with Tata.

You will see us ty­ing up with com­pa­nies in tech­nol­ogy, e-com­merce, travel, hos­pi­tal­ity and fi­nan­cial ser­vices. What are some of the chal­lenges in the In­dian mar­ket that you are still try­ing to tackle?

The big­gest chal­lenge is scal­ing the busi­ness and hir­ing great peo­ple faster. We are more than 300 peo­ple in the In­dian team and we need to hire more. There are so many smart peo­ple to hire here but there is so much com­pe­ti­tion in this mar­ket right now: that's the hard­est thing. In­dia is pro­duc­ing a lot of great start-ups and great tal­ent and the hard thing is, as you grow big­ger as a com­pany, you are per­ceived to be less startup.

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