Feature

The ride-hailing industry’s drive has come to a screeching halt. Can Ola survive?

Mounting losses, imperfect bets and tough lessons. The taxi company was just about to prove its worth, when the pandemic threw a spanner in

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The thrill of driving at top speed is unparalleled. Ask Ola of ANI Technologies. Founded in 2010 by Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati, the radio taxi service turned ride-hailing app became a unicorn in less than five years. Today, that company is valued at $6.45 billion, with major investors including Tiger Global, Matrix Partners and Softbank, which has also backed its biggest rival UberAnd on its home ground, it has first mover advantage over the US pioneer, which operates in 71 countries and entered India in 2013.

 

Besides a three-year headstart, Ola also understood local consumers, and expanded to more than 250 cities while Uber restricted itself to 58. “From expanding service to customising product to suit local needs, like accepting cash payments, were things that Ola did right from the onset,” points out Jaspal Singh, co-founder of Toronto-based transportation consulting firm Valoriser Consultants. In December 2019, the Bengaluru-headquartered company held 41% market share, according to Vumonic Datalabs.

 

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