Info-tech

Ola's Bhavish Aggarwal: We’ve focussed on growth without worrying about the competition

Priyanka Pani | Updated on January 24, 2018

Bhavish Aggarwal, Co-founder and CEO, Olacabs -. Photo : Bijoy Ghosh



Ola (formerly known as Olacabs) has made an entry into the $1-billion club with its latest round of funding. Bhavish Aggarwal (29), the CEO and Co-founder of Olacabs, believes in the car rental service so much that he does not own a car, and doesn’t intend to in the future. A Bachelor in Computer Science from IIT Bombay, Aggarwal started Olacabs in December 2010, along with Ankit Bhati, a fellow IIT Bombay alumnus, and aims to change the way people travel. Speaking to Business Line about the company's fund-raising and expansion plans, Aggarwal reveals how the team has built a sustainable business on the back of technology. Edited excerpts:

You are one of the few in the highly competitive radio taxi segment to have attracted substantial foreign funding. What has been the differentiator?

We are the leaders in the segment, with an over 60 per cent market share, and we have pioneered the aggregation model with the help of technology, which differentiates us from others. We were the first to launch a mobile application and also a mobile payment solution, thus making it more convenient for our customers. We have also focussed on growth without worrying about what the competition was doing. Our app provides real-time information. Besides, we don’t own any inventory, and this has helped us scale up fast.

You talk about technology and mobile application driving growth at Ola… what percentage of sales comes through mobile apps?

It has grown from zero per cent to 75 per cent since the time we launched it three years ago.

How will you invest the funds raised from SoftBank?

We are aggressively investing in three areas — first, we are trying to go deeper into the ecosystem by helping small entrepreneurs (cab owners) and drivers, irrespective of whether they work with us or not, to get easy finance from banks.

Second, we are getting into more cities. We are present in six cities now and by the end of December 2015, we plan to launch services in about 100 Indian cities. We now run over 30,000 cars (both small and sedan) in the six cities. The idea is to bring in more cars. We are investing heavily in technology, mainly on the payment front.

Does that mean you will be hiring more engineers?

Yes, we are looking at hiring over 300 software engineers by the end of this fiscal.

When can we expect Ola to turn profitable and how is it planning to achieve that?

We can turn profitable today, but currently our focus is on growing fast and expanding rapidly to newer cities and categories, and investing in the driver and customer experience.  

What will SoftBank’s role in the company be, other than that of an investor?

SoftBank, with its global network, brings in a lot of relevant experience and knowledge in this domain.

Leveraging SoftBank’s network and expertise in the Internet domain will add immense value. Nikesh Arora from SoftBank joins the Ola board. 

Snapdeal founder Kunal Bahl is also an investor in Ola… has he played a part in the recent funding round?

Kunal is a great friend and guide. He has always mentored the team whenever required. He has nothing to do with SoftBank’s investment in Ola.

Published on October 28, 2014

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