Ola Success Story - How Ola Became India's Leading Cab Aggregator

Ola Success Story - How Ola Became India's Leading Cab Aggregator
Ola Success Story

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Ola needs no introduction. The first Indian cab aggregator company, Ola has made availing of cab services a smooth experience. Owned by ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd. and formerly known as OlaCabs, Ola was launched in December 2010 by two IIT Bombay graduates. Being a pioneer among cab companies in India, Ola bridges the gap between cab owners and commuters, and it has done so really well!

Instead of buying and renting out its own cars, Ola partners with a number of taxi drivers and owners and adds a touch of modern technology to the whole setup. This allows people to book cabs at short notice through Ola's app. Ola is India’s homegrown ride-hailing app with a little less than 50% market share (as of Uber's 2020 report) in India. It has users in over 250 cities in India and employs 2.5 million+ driver-partners.

Driven by a hyperlocal approach, Ola is committed to its mission of building mobility for a billion people. Staying in line with its mission, Ola has also ventured into auto and bike booking services. Ola also started off a bicycle-sharing service called 'Ola Pedal' in 2017 to facilitate last-mile connectivity. Read on to explore the remarkable journey of Ola, its founders, business model, revenue, growth, and more.

OLA - Company Highlights

Startup Name Ola
Headquarters Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
Sector Transportation
Founders Bhavish Aggarwal, Ankit Bhati
Founded 2010
Parent Company ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
Website olacabs.com
Ola Journey
OLA Success Story

Ola - About Ola and How it Works
Ola - Industry Details
Ola - Founders and Team
Ola - Startup Story | How was Ola Started?
Ola - Name and Logo
Ola - Business Model and Revenue Model
Ola - User Acquisition
Ola - Funding, Investors and Valuation
Ola - Growth and Revenue
Ola - Product And Service
Ola - Startup Challenges
Ola - Partnerships
Ola - Acquisitions and Merger
Ola - Competitors
Ola - Future Plans

Ola - About Ola and How it Works

Ola has simplified the process of cab booking. From easy payment options to keeping the passengers entertained on the go with 'Ola Play', Ola takes care of everything to ensure a smooth ride. Ola now also operates self-drive cars. Be it self-drive or cab-hailing, Ola Cabs offer a wide range of cars to choose from depending on the number of travelers, budget, and convenience. For traveling within the city, one can hire shared taxis, autos, bikes, and even e-rickshaws through Ola.

One can opt for ‘Ola outstation’ to travel outside the city and ‘Ola rentals’ to rent a cab on an hourly basis. Ola has also launched ‘Ola Select’, a subscription-based membership program that offers premium benefits on rides. 'Ola pedal', Ola’s bicycle-sharing service, is already a big hit in the IIT Kanpur and the IIT Madras campuses with over 500 cycles.

In 2016, Ola launched ‘Ola Corporate’. When employees book their rides through Ola Corporate, the fare is deducted from the company’s Ola corporate prepaid account. Hence, companies can easily track the travel expenses of their employees while ensuring their safety.

Ola - Industry Details

India’s taxi-hailing market is valued at more than $40 Billion. The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.3% between 2022-2024. The increase is supposed to happen due to the changing lifestyles of travelers and the growing disposable incomes of consumers, especially in Tier-I and Tier-II cities.

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Ola - Founders and Team

Ola was founded by Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati in 2010.

Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati - Ola Founders
Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati - Ola Founders

Bhavish Aggarwal

Ola founder Bhavish Aggarwal graduated from IIT Bombay with a B.Tech in computer science in the year 2008. Ola Cabs owner Bhavish worked for Microsoft Research in Bangalore for two years right after college. He filed 2 patents and published 3 research publications in international journals during his stint at Microsoft. While chasing his entrepreneurial dream, he started an online company to sell short-duration tours and holidays before transforming it into Ola Cabs. Bhavish Aggarwal is the Co-founder and the CEO of Ola. Born on 28 August 1985, OLA owner Bhavish Aggarwal's personal net worth was estimated to be around $350 Million, as per 2019 data. The wealth of Bhavish further increased to stand at Rs 7500 crore ($958.43 million) in September 2021, which also made him grab the 9th position among India's wealthiest list under 40, which also features Sachin and Binny Bansal, Neha Narkhede, Nakul Aggarwal and Ritesh Arora, and led by Divyank Turakhia, with Rs 12,500 net worth.

The Ola chief Bhavish Aggarwal will reportedly be stepping down from the day-to-day operations of the core business of Ola and will be more involved with the new and upcoming businesses of the company. The Ola company's day-to-day operations will be taken over by Arun GR, who joined in 2021 from Vedanta Resources and has previously headed as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Ola Electric and Ola Financial Services, as confirmed by an internal organizational mail. Bhavish confirmed that he would not be retiring but will move on to overseeing Ola team building, product building, engineering functions, two-wheelers, car projects, quick commerce verticals, international expansion, and more.

Bhavish Aggarwal is well known for his tweets and remains quite active on Twitter and other social media platforms. He once even remarked jestingly that his tweets receive more replies than even Modiji's tweets.

In a recent tweet that came from Elon Musk, where the Tesla chief said, "Tesla will not put a manufacturing plant in any location where we are not allowed first to sell & service cars", Bhavish Aggarwal sarcastically replied with "Thanks, but no thanks!" the very next day on May 28, 2022.

Bhavish Aggarwal, who has been known to remark on Tesla and its likely launch in India, had said again, according to the July 4th, 2022, that the EV manufacturing giant is free to put up a shop in India and sell its cars, but they are not doing that, further adding that Tesla only "want to be treated differently from others, which I believe is not in the interests of India".

Ankit Bhati

Ankit Bhati is the Co-founder and the CTO of Ola and heads the technical aspects of Ola Cabs, ensuring a quick, convenient, and instinctive experience for the customers and partners. He joined IIT Bombay in 2004 for a B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering and an M.Tech in CAD and automation. By 2009, he had already worked on several freelance projects and with startups like Wilcom, QED42, etc. Ankit finally decided to give up his nomadic professional life for his own start-up. He became part of the Ola Cabs journey in November 2010. There were speculations that Ankit Bhati has left Ola but these were nothing but rumors and falsities, as said by Ola Co-founder Bhavish.

Ahead of its IPO, Ola Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Swayam Saurabh and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Gaurav Porwal left the company in the first week of October 2021. Arun Sirdeshmukh, who was the CEO of Ola Cars, resigned from the company within less than a year of his appointment. This resignation has been confirmed by Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal's tweet, who said, “Arun Sirdeshmukh will move on. Wish him well.” Arun looked after the go-to-market strategy and its used cars business. The task of managing Ola Cars’ day-to-day operations was handed over to CFO, GR Arun Kumar. The Ola Cars business was decided by Ola to be reoriented on June 25, 2022. Shikharr Sood joins the list of Ola resignees. The Ola Head of Talent Acquisition resigned from the firm on July 7, 2022. The Ola work culture is dominated by the "Act fast, think later" philosophy, as mentioned by the top 10 senior employees of Ola who have resigned from the firm.

Ola - Initial Team

OLA Initial Team
OLA Initial Team

After the idea, the design and vision were done by the product manager, Usha Loutongbam, and Bhavish himself. As for the developers who converted these ideas into reality, the first version for Android was built by Ajinkya Potdar and for iOS by Khushal Bokadey. Both of them joined Ola for two months of internship and did an excellent job rolling out the release in real quick time.

The iOS app was then taken over by Atul Manwar and the Android version by Ankit Kumar. Neeti Birla developed the backend APIs. The main focus of the new releases was to make the app feature-rich and improve the user experience without losing the essence of one-touch cab booking.

The Ola company currently has somewhere around 6,000 employees, as per recent updates.

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Ola - Startup Story | How was Ola Started?

Ola was launched on 3rd December 2010. There is an interesting story behind Ola's start. Born in Ludhiana, Ola owner Bhavish Aggarwal was just like every other success-driven entrepreneur. Bhavish first started an online site named Olatrip.com that offered holiday packages and weekend trips.

While trying to keep his holiday and tour planning business afloat, Bhavish had to travel from Bangalore to Bandipur for which he rented out a car. The cab experience was horrendous! The driver stopped the car in the middle of the journey and demanded a re-negotiation of what Bhavish was paying. After being refused, the driver proceeded to abandon Bhavish en route to his destination.

This is when he realized how his plight was probably similar to a lot of customers across the country who were looking for quality cab services. Bhavish saw the potential of an extraordinary cab booking service, and he changed Olatrip.com's business model to the one we know today as Ola Cabs.

Bhavish on-boarded his co-founder Ankit Bhati for taking Ola Cabs forward. Bhavish's parents didn’t agree with his startup plans in the beginning. They were thoroughly displeased with his decision to become a ‘travel agent’. Nevertheless, his parents became supportive once OLA got its first round of angel investment from Snapdeal founder Kunal Bahl, Rehan Yar Khan, and Anupam Mittal.

Bhavish believes that anyone can have a good business idea but to implement it successfully, one must have a scalable model to power the business. According to him, the best or one of the safest models one can or should adopt is running a business while owning “zero” inventory.

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Ola Logo
Ola Logo

If you believe that Ola is some sort of abbreviation or short form, you are wrong. The name is derived from the Spanish word 'Hola' that translates to ‘Hello’.

Ola - Business Model and Revenue Model

Ola has a simple business model. It acts as a facilitator to provide cab-booking services. Customers can book their cabs through the app. Ola does not own any of the cabs. Only those drivers with valid permits duly authorized and verified by transport authorities can sign up with Ola; they could be either self-employed or work for an operator who owns multiple cars.

Just like how we as customers use the Ola app, the drivers get access to a driver-specific mobile app on their smartphone once they register with Ola. This is done only after a thorough check of authenticity and conducting due diligence on the commercial papers and the personal papers of both the driver and the operator. The drivers have the flexibility to decide their own time to log in to the Ola application and accept requests for rides from customers. They may choose to remain logged out of the system at their convenience. Ola takes a commission of 15% on average on all the bookings done through the app.

Ola considers the following factors to create the final bill for the user:

  1. Base Fare - Charged flat
  2. Distance Fare - Charged kilometer-wise (different for different cities)
  3. Ride Time Fare - Charged on the time taken to travel
  4. Peak Pricing - Direct ratio depending on the demand for cabs
  5. Service Tax - 5.6%
  6. Swachh Bharat Tax - 0.2%
  7. Toll Charges - Toll Collection in case you cross toll junctions in the journey

Ola - User Acquisition

Ola has also got into 3 international markets namely Australia, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand. In Australia, it has set up operations in seven cities. It claims to have registered 40,000 drivers on its app in Australia. In India, Ola operates across 250+ cities.

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Ola - Funding, Investors and Valuation

Ola has raised a total funding of around $5 billion over 29 rounds.

The company's valuation is $1.9 billion, as per the news report of February 5, 2024.

Here is a breakup of the total funding raised by OLA to date:

Date Stage Amount Investors/Shareholders
February 22, 2022 Series J $20.11 million Arrow Capital, Axis Growth Avenues and more
December 16, 2021 TLB Round $500 million -
December 8, 2021 Series J $139 million Edelweiss and others
July 9, 2021 Pre-IPO Round $500 million Temasek, Warburg Pincus’s Plum Wood and Bhavish Aggarwal
September 2019 Series J $5.1 Million ARK Ola Pre IPO Private Investment Trust
July 2019 Series J $11.4 Million Deshe Holdings, DIG Investment
March 2019 Corporate Round $300 Million Hyundai Motor Co.& Kia Motors Corp
February 2019 Series J $92 Million Sachin Bansal
February 2019 Series J $14 Million -
January 2019 Series J $88 Million Steadview Capital
January 2019 Corporate Round $1.8 Million Eternal Yield International
September 2018 Series I $50 Million China Eurasian Economic Cooperation Fund, Sailing Capital
August 2018 Secondary Market $225 Million Temasek Holdings
October 2017 Series G $1.1 Billion Tencents Holdings and SoftBank Group
August 2017 Private Equity $36 Million Tekne Capital
May 2017 Private Equity $104 Million RNT Capital Advisors and Falcon Edge Capital
April 2017 Series G $260 Million SoftBank Capital
February 2017 - $330 Million SoftBank
November 2015 Series F $500 Million Baillie Gifford, Falcon Edge Capital, Tiger Global, SoftBank Group and DST Global
April 2015 Series E $403 Million DST Global, GIC, Softbank and Falcon Edge Capital
October 2014 Series D $210 Million SoftBank Group,Tiger Global and Matrix Partners India
July 2014 Series C $41 Million Steadview Capital and Sequoia Capital
November 2013 Series B $20 Million Matrix Partners, Tiger Global Management
April 2012 Series A $5 Million Tiger Global Management
April 2011 Angel $330K Kunal Bahl, Anupam Mittal, Rehan yar Khan

The lure of this home-grown cab aggregator has proved irresistible to investors.

Ola is funded by 48 investors with 23 lead investors, as per data available till July 10, 2021. ARK Ola Pre IPO Private Investment Trust and Hussam Khoury are the most recent investors. The latest round came from Temasek, Warburg Pincus’s Plum Wood, and the company's founder, Bhavish Aggarwal's funds on July 9, 2021, prior to the IPO that the company is looking forward to, which might either be conducted towards the end of 2022 or early in 2023!

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Ola - Growth and Revenue

In 2010, the Ola owners Bhavish and Ankit identified a serious gap in Mumbai. Cabs used to be idle. Cab operators charged high irrespective of the distance to compensate for the time they stayed idle. Poor services and delays were treated as an obvious thing. In 2011, they could make 10 bookings in a day. In October 2015, they booked 700,000 daily rides. They thought of piloting tracking devices in each cab but let go of the idea in January 2012. In April 2012, Ola expanded its operation in Bangalore and Delhi.

Ola has covered an interesting journey from being nothing to becoming a company that provides a livelihood to thousands of people. Today, Ola has become a part of people’s everyday life in many cities.

Ola Cars

Ola has already launched its first electric scooters under Ola Electric and was set to step on a new journey involving used cars, which started in October 2021. According to the reports dated July 27, 2021, Ola looked to start its used car retailing business soon in Bengaluru. The ride-hailing giant aimed for a full-stack model where it will buy cars from the driver partners of the company and other people, and sell them to buyers after they are set right, said a close source aware of the future plans requesting anonymity. The new business was called "Ola Cars," which was finally launched on October 7, 2021. Ola Cars helped customers purchase new and old vehicles. Furthermore, it also offered many other services like vehicle purchase, finance and insurance for vehicles, and its registration, and maintenance. This business of Ola was decided by the ride-hailing giant to be reoriented, as far as its June 25, 2022 statement goes.

Ola, which suffered heavily due to the coronavirus pandemic, being a ride-hailing app, has seen quite a progress after the lockdown and other strictures have been lifted. The company confirmed that the recovery it has witnessed from the second wave of Covid was 3X faster than what it has seen while shaking off the blues of the first wave.

Ola Co-founder and CEO, Bhavish Aggarwal, has also announced that Ola has seen 10 million users using the app, for the first time ever in FY21. This increase in usage is primarily because most people now are opting to avoid public transport and moving on with personal or shared ways of mobility. Furthermore, Ola Autos, which has seen a 150% rise, are also quite popular.

Bhavish further emphasized that the "Ola rides are safe." He said that over 3 lakh Ola drivers are currently vaccinated and 100% of drivers are likely to get vaccinated soon.

Ola is currently onboarding more driver-partners. Besides, the company is also looking to enter new cities and build newer products to serve the growing mobility demands of the people post-Covid. The Bhavish Aggarwal-led company had forayed into the island nation of Europe back in 2018, and the Ola Cabs have been running in London, UK, since February 2020. Ola has more than 25,000 registered drivers on its platform in London.

A warm welcome to the Indian startup expanding its transportation services in foreign countries, now OLA in the UK after Australia and New Zealand markets. Ola is looking at bigger markets. Ola had been working towards this launch for the last year. CEO of Ola, Bhavish Aggarwal said, “It is not just yet another city launch for us. It is a transformative event for all of us at Ola.”

In July 2019, Ola was granted a one-year Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) licence from the Transport of London — a body that oversees the cities’ transportation — to operate its services in the city, according to a disclosure made by the department. Ola’s licence is valid until October 3 this year.

Bhavish Aggarwal, the Indian Entrepreneur, and co-founder of OLA Cabs have expressed immense happiness in bringing OLA to the United Kingdom and calls it a ‘momentous moment’ for everyone associated with OLA.

The United Kingdom has one of the world’s most evolved transportation markets. UK worked with black cabs and private hire vehicles (PHV) round-the-clock catering to people. Then, there came OLA, India based online ride-hailing company marching towards the UK, which will be serving as the only on-demand app to offer both Black cab and PHV facilities to people. With the known fact of the UK with its best-regulated taxi services, OLA is about to enter the market. Britain already is embedded with multi-billion dollar ride-sharing giant apps like UBER on its fast pacing on roads.

Ola has obtained the license to operate in South Wales and Greater Manchester as per a press release as it’s the first step as ‘OLA in the UK’. OLA is engaging with policymakers and regulators to expand its network over a period of time. It is currently looking to expand its services throughout the UK. This seems a wise decision entering into the UK market, which faces mobility issues for the people relying on public transport services.

The company has come up with more facilities for commuters as per their convenience and choice. It ensures facilities with 24/7 safety, in-app emergency services, Disclosure and Barring Services(DBS) screened drivers, sharing live location, live tracking, reaching out to emergency contacts if needed, etc. OLA app is user-friendly and is instantaneous in catering to all needs of the people.

OLA in the UK is all set for its second innings globally after launching across seven cities in Australia with its maiden launch. It also has its sketch to launch in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka soon.

Despite the fact that Uber is one of the most sought ride-sharing apps in the UK and its territorial presence in 70+ countries, OLA is enthusiastic and is firm to take a stand globally with 1+ million drivers across various cities. With a huge customer base and the most accessed app in the Indian sub-continent, OLA has an edge over Uber in India. It must have its own strategies to make it successful in the transportation overseas market.

Time for us to wait and watch the Indian-based company establish its market on British grounds.

Ola Answers "Why does my driver cancel my Ola ride?"

Ola founder cum CEO Bhavish Aggarwal has finally replied to "Why does my driver cancel my Ola ride?" by introducing new features to its ride aggregating app on December 21, 2021.

The aforementioned question is the 2nd most popular question that Bhavish gets. Cab cancellation is something that all of the industry's players face but that issue will soon be bettered with the new feature of the Ola app, which will enable the drivers to see an approx drop location and the payment mode before they accept an Ola ride. Bhavish tweeted, "Enabling drivers is key to reducing cancellations."

The cab aggregating giant has always kept the drop location and the approx payment method hidden from the drivers, however, that somehow was not working out, as pointed out by Vineeta Singh, Sugar cosmetics CEO earlier in August 2021. However, the working of the latest feature has already been enthusiastically confirmed by Vineeta. Here goes her latest tweet:

Ola-Uber Merger Reports Denied

In a recent report by ET, OLA chief Bhavish Aggarwal was reported to have met Uber officials in San Francisco, USA. This was the reason why the talks of the Ola-Uber merger circulated. However, Aggarwal dismissed such talks by saying, “Absolute rubbish. We’re very profitable and growing well." Bhavish also took a dig at the US-based ride-sharing company by mentioning subtly that if any other company wants to exit from India, they can do so wilfully, as per his tweet. The Ola Founder-CEO further claimed that OLA is one of the most profitable ride-hailing companies in the world, and has a strong balance sheet. “We are the market leader in India and are much bigger than other players," he added, along with mentioning any merger is completely out of the question. Ola is open to acquisitions though to further cement its position in India, as per reports dated July 30, 2022.

Ola Revenue

In FY21, Ola's operational revenue suffered a decline of over 63%, exceeding Uber's 47% decline, reaching approximately Rs 983.2 crore. Highlighting the contrast, Ola earned Rs 2,662.63 crore in operating revenue for FY20.

However, in FY22, Ola's operational revenue increased by 100%, to Rs 1,970 crore, compared to Rs 983 crore in FY21. The ride-hailing business accounted for 61% of the revenue, increasing by 78.5% to Rs 1,208.6 crore in FY22 from Rs 677 crore in FY21. Financial services added Rs 95.4 crore, while the rest (Rs 666 crore) came from other verticals in FY22. Non-operating income also contributed Rs. 149.53 crore. Overall, Ola's revenue for FY22 stood at approximately Rs 2,120 crore.

Despite the firm's rapid scale expansion, Ola's losses increased by 36.4% to Rs 1,522 crore in FY22, up from Rs 1,116 crore in FY21.

Ola Expenses

In FY21, Ola reduced marketing, employee benefits, and vehicle running expenses, leading to a decrease in total expenses from Rs 5,058 crore in FY20 to Rs 2,007 crore. However, in FY22, there was a shift in its expenditure pattern. Vehicle running costs and the cost of materials combined amounted to Rs 1,089.7 crore, while employee benefits increased by 26.6% to Rs 552.5 crore. Overall, Ola's expenses in FY22 increased by 67.5% to reach Rs 3,362 crore.

Ola Financials (FY20-FY22)
Ola Financials (FY20-FY22)

Ola Store Renamed as Ola Dash

Ola started a 15-minute delivery or quick delivery service in several parts of Bengaluru. Via this wing of Ola, the company decided to deliver grocery, pet care, and personal care products. Ola decided to start its ‘Ola Store’ initially in a few localities in the city and will have eventually planned to expand its services to other cities in the upcoming months. This new service was availed through the Ola app, which was available for selected customers, who were able to choose from around 2000 items. This made Ola stand as an emerging competitor of brands like Grofers, BigBasket, Swiggy, Dunzo, and more.

Ola Store eventually declared that it would be a 10-minute grocery delivery service and that it had already set up 15 dark stores in Mumbai and Bengaluru, as of November 30, 2021. Ola aimed to establish around 300 dark stores for the delivery of groceries and conveniences by January 2022. The firm also claimed to deliver around 1000 orders per day. The leading online cab aggregator announced having a fixed budget of around Rs 250 crore for their supermarket delivery business. This was the third time that Ola had attempted to foray into the segment. Ola Store had been renamed as Ola Dash, as per the reports dated January 26, 2022. The new name replaced the old one to infuse the element of speed and faster delivery. The Ola Dash network was estimated to expand its network of dark stores to comprise 500 dark stores, which will be spread across 20 cities and will make it the largest dark store network in India, as of January 28, 2022. However, the Ola Dash business failed to succeed in the long run and was suspended by Ola, as per the reports dated June 25, 2022. Ola Dash had last served 9 cities in total and was spread across 200 dark stores, which offered an assortment of 2500+ SKUs. ‘Store to Door’ was also on and was delivered in 10 minutes.

Some key growth statistics of Ola would reflect that:

  • It completes more than 1 bn rides each year.
  • The service of Ola is spread over 250 cities.
  • Ola has empowered more than 1.5 mn entrepreneurs who are currently with Ola as driver-partners.
  • The company has 7000+ employees working with OLA.

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Ola - Product And Service

Ola Financial Services (OFS)

Ola has also introduced Ola money. The products offered under Ola Money are Ola Money credit card, Ola money postpaid, Ola money mobile wallet, and Ola money hospicash. Ola hospicash is a collaboration between Ola and Religare health insurance that allows the policyholders to claim Rs 5000 per day in case of hospitalization. It has further declared that it will invest up to Rs 786.1 crore in this Ola Financial Services subsidiary in December 2021.

Ola operates with transparency. The commission is given to drivers for every sale made. Ola is known to charge far less than many other traditional operators.

Ola Electric

Electric Scooters

Ola launched India's first multimodal electric vehicle project on 26 May 2017. The project brought together industry experts and the Indian government to pioneer electric vehicles for the public and promote shared mobility in Nagpur. Established as a separate entity, Ola Electric Mobility Pvt. Ltd. also reached unicorn status with a $250 million investment from SoftBank in July 2019.

After exceeding expectations in the pre-booking round, Ola Electric scooters went live for purchase on their website and via the Ola app on September 15, 2021. The company reportedly sold Rs 1100 crores worth of electric scooters in just 2 days.

Electric Cars

Ola has unveiled its plans to launch its first electric car in the next 2-3 years, as per reports dated July 16, 2022. OLA CEO Bhavish Aggarwal teased and announced that his company is gearing up to build the sportiest car that has ever been built in India. Some concept design ideas have been ready already. The first Ola Electric car is to be launched from its new 4W factory that is to be built and would be another factory, separate from Ola's Futurefactory for 2Ws.

Ola Parcel

In an attempt to challenge Swiggy Genie and Dunzo's courier service, Ola announced the launched of Ola Parcel, an all-electric on-demand delivery service, on October 6, 2023. As a logistics company playing a role akin to Shadowfax, Shiprocket, etc., it will be onboarding itself to ONDC.

Ola - Startup Challenges

The founders Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati had to face many challenges in the beginning. They worked long hours and sometimes Ankit, the co-founder of Ola, had to code for 48 hours straight. They have had to drive the customer to their desired locations at times because the drivers did not show up. However, this did not dampen their spirits. The duo worked day and night and people started liking their services.

The twist in their story happened when angel investors Rohit Bansal and Kunal Bahl invested Rs 2 crores in their business. This gave them an initial push and there was no looking back for Ola from there.

As much as Ola wanted to meet the needs of the customers by scaling up to different cities, each city faced its own infrastructural challenge. The app required the use of the 2G network. The team had to design an app that could accommodate network connectivity in smaller towns.

Ola incurs RBI penalty for Ola Financial Services

Ola Financial Services, an OLA subsidiary, has been imposed a penalty of Rs 1.68 crore by the RBI, which claimed that the mobility company failed to comply with the RBI norms in association with the latest changes in the prepaid payment instruments (PPIs) and know your customer (KYC) policies.

RBI mentioned that the entity didn't adhere to "certain provisions of the Master Directions on PPIs dated August 27, 2021, and the Master Direction – Know Your Customer (KYC) Direction, 2016 dated February 25, 2016". After discovering this, the central bank imposed the penalty, exercising the powers vested to the body under Section 30 of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007. To justify the huge penalty that it had brought down on Ola, RBI stated that it has earlier showcaused Ola as soon as it discovered that the firm was breaching the KYC norms, but Ola failed to provide a suitable response.

Ola Layoffs

Ola is reportedly looking to curb its expenses, for which, it is looking to lay off somewhere between 400-500 employees, as per reports dated July 6, 2022. This has risen up and would affect close to 1000 Ola employees, as per reports dated July 29, 2022. Sources and reports have claimed that Ola has already asked its key managers to prepare a list of employees that the company can let go. The ride-hailing giant has already ceased making investments in international markets like the UK, New Zealand, and Australia, and has also shut down its subsidiaries like Ola Dash and Ola Cars, all of which were cash-burn-heavy lines of business. However, with it, the cab aggregating company has also put a stop to the revenue channels that might have benefited it, thereby solely relying on its mobility services. Pulling the plug on these lines of businesses have already

Ola had already started terminating its employees and has also deferred their performance appraisal for this year, as far as the July 9, 2022 reports go. Ola has further announced that it would focus on its EV business, and also increase its hiring for the same. Reports have it that Ola is hiring 4 people for every single person laid off. It would manufacture both electric cars and Li-ion batteries for its electric vehicles.

Unfair Trade Practices and Violation of Consumer Rights

Cab aggregators Ola and Uber got legal notices from the Central Consumer Protection Authority that sent Notices to Ola and Uber for unfair trade practices and the violation of consumer rights, as per reports dated May 20, 2022. The central government of India had previously warned Ola and Uber of strict action if they don't improve their systems and redress the rising complaints. Now, the CCPA has given a 15-day for them to do so.

Ola Resignations

Ola has witnessed numerous resignations lately, which became even more prominent after the increasing fire accidents and amid the preparations for Ola going public sometime soon in 2022. Ola had already seen the resignations of COO Gaurav Porwal, CTO Swayam Saurabh, General Counsel Sandeep Chowdhury, and HR head Rohit Munjal among others, early in 2021. The co-founders of Ola Electric Ankit Jain and Anand Shah had also put down their papers, and now it has been seen that Dinesh Radhakrishnan the CTO of Ola Electric, quit the company on May 8, 2022. Arun Sirdeshmukh, who was the CEO of Ola Cars, also left last week. Already rocked by resignations, Ola's Head of Talent Acquisition, Shikharr Sood also left the company on July 7, 2022. Ola has seen too many top-level exits already and this brings us to the cause of the exits. As per the surveys of the top 10 senior employees of Ola, the culture of "act fast, think later" has been dominant.

Ola ShutDowns

Ola shutdowns are not something new. The cab aggregating giant has failed to pivot time and again, especially in the food delivery segment. The descaling of the food business is now announced for the third time on May 20, 2022, when Ola said that it would sell most of its cloud kitchen equipment at up to 30-50% discounts.

The first of Ola shutdown in the food delivery segments was witnessed when Ola pulled the plug on Ola Cafes in 2016 after a year since it started in 2015 to take on Uber Eats and foray into the food industry. Ola Stores was also shut down in the same year. It next acquired FoodPanda, which was completed in February 2022, but failed with the same so much so that Ola was left operating with only 50 cloud kitchens. The company later suspended Foodpanda's operations completely in May 2019 and laid off around 1500 delivery executives and 40 mid-level staff. Ola eventually tried to pivot again with a handful of flagship food brands like the Khichdi Experiment, Paratha Experiment, The Biryani Experiment, and more. The company had also opted for a multichannel approach, set up 50 cloud kitchens, and had also included mom-and-pop stores in this initiative. Besides, Ola also wanted to acquire Freshmenu to scale its food business, but the deal failed to flesh out.

Ola has decided to pull the plug on its used cars and quick commerce business - Ola Cars and Ola Dash, as per reports dated June 25, 2022. These businesses of Ola are shut down with the sole aim of strengthening its EV and mobility businesses, which the company is planning to only focus on for the time being. Though Ola Cars still has hopes of being reoriented, which is expected to help strengthen the go-to-market strategy of Ola Electric, Ola Dash is to be closed down completely.

Here's briefly looking at the failed ventures of Ola:

Name Industry Founded Shutdown
Ola Dash Quick Commerce 2015 2022
Ola Foods Food Delivery 2020 2022
Foodpanda Food Delivery 2019 2020
Ola Cafe Food Delivery 2015 2016

Ola Layoffs

Ola has laid off a huge number of employees to date. The last known layoffs were from its quick commerce wing, Ola Dash, from where the company reportedly laid off around 2100 employees in April 2022. Though this is still unconfirmed, it might be the largest layoffs that 2022 has seen so far.

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Ola - Partnerships

Apart from the drivers that Ola partners with as clients, the most notable partnership that the cab aggregating giant has witnessed is with Siemens. Ola announced a press release stating 'Ola adopts Siemens’ Digital Enterprise to build India’s most advanced manufacturing facility' on January 20, 2021. Ola has partnered with Siemens to build its upcoming electric vehicle manufacturing facility. This announcement comes when OLA has an MoU with the government of Tamil Nadu to invest around INR 2,400 Cr towards building this facility.

It is expected that the factory will generate around 10,000 jobs, with an initial capacity of 2 million units a year and making it the largest scooter manufacturing facility in the world. This will serve as Ola’s global manufacturing hub catering to customers in India and across Europe, the UK, Latin America, and ANZ (Australia and New Zealand)

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This factory is going to be amazing and technologically advanced with 5,000 robots stationed across various functions and will be built on Industry 4.0 principles. Ola will have access to Siemens’ integrated Digital Twin design and manufacturing solutions to digitalize and validate products and production ahead of actual operations. It will have Ola’s proprietary AI Engine and tech stack deeply integrated into each aspect of the manufacturing process. Thereby, providing unprecedented control, automation, and quality to the operations.

Bhavish Aggarwal, Chairman & Group CEO, Ola, said, ‘‘Ola is delighted to partner with Siemens to build the most advanced manufacturing facility in the country. This will be our global hub and will set a benchmark in quality, scale and efficiency, demonstrating India’s capability to build world class cutting edge products. We look forward to bringing this factory online in the coming months and putting our products in the hands of customers.”

Ola’s scooter blends excellent design, sensational performance, and incredible technology into an amazing product. It has already won several prestigious designs and innovation awards including the IHS Markit Innovation award at CES and the German Design Award.

Sunil Mathur, MD & CEO, Siemens India, said, “Siemens is a global leader in Industry 4.0 and we are proud to contribute to Ola’s vision of creating a factory of the future using our automation and digitalization expertise to ensuring the highest levels of productivity and quality while enabling an agile and flexible production process.”

Ola - Acquisitions and Merger

Ola has acquired 8 organizations in total. The last acquisition of Ola was that of Avail Finance, which is a financial services startup for the blue-collar workforce led by the Ola chief Bhavish Aggarwal's brother, Ankush Aggarwal. The acquisition of Avail Finance was announced on March 24, 2022, and was finally completed on April 11, 2022, via a share swap deal worth $50 million. The leading cab aggregating giant held a 9% stake in Avail due to its investment in the startup in 2019 before it acquired the company.

GeoSpoc was the previous company that Ola acquired on October 5, 2021. It was the company's first acquisition in a period of over 2 years after it acquired Pikup.ai on August 13, 2019. ANI Technologies, the parent of the ride-hailing major Ola and Ola Electric, completed its acquisition of Foodpanda from Delivery Hero, the Germany-based parent of Foodpanda.

The acquisition of Foodpanda was first announced by Ola in December 2017 for around $200 mn to reinforce its food delivery service. Fast forward to February 5, 2022, the food delivery giant held an extraordinary general meeting where the shareholders of Ola decided to issue 3,793 Series J2 CCPS to Delivery Hero, for Rs 8.5 crore. Mentioning that to acquire 100% of the shares in Foodpanda, the company stated that it will be finally issuing 3,793 Series J2 CCPS to Delivery Hero instead of cash consideration, which will allow the company to acquire 77,10,564 equity shares, which were held by Delivery Hero in Foodpanda, as per the news dated February 24, 2022.

Founded by Ralf Wenzel, Benjamin Bauer and Felix Plog in 2012 in Germany, Foodpanda was a successful business at that time in India, however, due to piling expenses, miscommunication, technical flaws, lack of ownership, lack of a foolproof business, and revenue model, the startup struggled much in India before it finally got acquired by Ola. Foodpanda reportedly pulled in 30,000-35,000 orders per day when it was at its peak of India operations. Furthermore, it launched "The Crave Party" in the last week of August 2018, which rained a range of discounts for the customers, and multiplied the order volumes of the app by 10X in the same year.

FoodPanda Order Spike
FoodPanda Order Spike

Currently, the Foodpanda app lies suspended after the Ola acquisition of FoodPanda.

Here's the list of the prominent Ola acquisitions to check out:

Acquiring Date Startup Name Amount
March 24, 2022 Avail Finance $49.6 Million
October 5, 2021 GeoSpoc $3.44 Million
August 13, 2019 Pikup.ai Undisclosed
April 3, 2018 Ridlr Undisclosed
December 19, 2017 Foodpanda $31.7 Million
March 21, 2016 Qarth Undisclosed
November 11, 2015 Geotagg Undisclosed
March 2, 2015 TaxiForSure $200 Million

Ola had acquired the Pune-based geospatial service provider, GeoSpoc in order to improve their location and geospatial technologies with an undisclosed amount. Talking about the acquisition, CEO and Co-Founder, Bhavish Aggarwal mentioned the need for "better, newer maps and geospatial services" for the "new mobility" and to build the future of location services.

The geospatial sector in India has witnessed quite a growth lately, the market of which, in India, is currently valued at Rs 15,000 crores, and is expected to hit Rs 1 Lakh crores by 2029-2030. The company completes its acquisition of GeoSpoc in full for Rs 26 crore, as per the reports dated December 8, 2021.

Ola had already executed an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), which was worth around $10.5 million (Rs 78.6 crores) for its three former employees and one current executive. Now, the company has further decided to provide ESOP encashment facilities for the former chief executive officer of Ola Foods, Pranay Jivrajka; former chief operating officer of Ola, Pallav Singh; Nimish Joshi, former Vice President, and its current chief product officer, Suvonil Chatterjee.

Among all of them, Jivrajka has emerged as the biggest beneficiary of the ESOP encashment program of Ola with Rs 38.17 crore, who is followed by Pallav Singh, Suvonil Chatterjee, and Nimish Joshi, who possess Rs 24.8 crore, Rs 8.5 crore, and Rs 7.08 crore respectively. Ola declared this development soon after it announced the expansion of its ESOP pool to Rs 3,000 crore. Furthermore, the company also noted that it will have some fresh stocks, worth Rs 400 crore allocated for the employees in the run-up to its IPO. Ola currently boasts of having one of the largest ESOP pools among the late-stage startups of India, which also includes companies like Paytm, OYO, and BYJU'S.

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Ola - Competitors

Ola directly competes with Uber, the world’s most well-financed startup having raised more than $24 billion in equity and debt on a recent valuation of $82 billion. Other players in India include:

  • Meru Cabs Company Pvt. Ltd., which owns Meru Cabs
  • Carzonrent (India) Pvt. Ltd., which owns Carzonrent
  • Zoomcar India Private. Ltd., which owns Zoomcar.
  • In the bike taxi segment, Rapido is slowly capturing Ola's market share.
  • InDriver, the international ride-hailing app is the hot favorite today in India, which was founded in Russia and is headquartered in Mountain View, California, US.

Ola - Future Plans

Ola was initially looking to go public in the first quarter of 2022, and speculation rose that it would likely file its DRHP (Draft Red Herring Prospectus) in the December quarter of the previous year. However, the present scenario suggests that Ola is planning an initial public offering (IPO) in late 2023.

The plans of Ola with its subsidiary, Ola Electric, seem big, as the EV-manufacturing wing of Ola has already started achieving some major feats. Ola is currently focusing more on its cab service and its operations.


Is Ola a Chinese Company?

Ola is an Indian Company but is funded by Chinese investors like Tencent Holdings, Steadview Capital, Sailing Capital, Eternal Yield International Ltd, and China-Eurasian Economic Co-operation Fund with an estimated investment of $500 million.

Who are the Ola shareholders?

Ola's major shareholders/investors include SoftBank Group (Japanese), Tiger Global (US-based), Tencent (Chinese Venture Capital), Matrix Partners (US-based), and DST Global (Russia).

Which country is Ola from?

Ola Cabs was founded in Mumbai, India.

Who is the founder of Ola Cabs?

Ola was founded by Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati in 2010.

What is the full form of OLA?

There is no full form as such. The name is derived from the Spanish word 'Hola' which translates to ‘hello’.

How to become a partner of Ola?

You can easily be a partner of Ola by simply going to www.partners.olacabs.com. There you will find 3 options to become an Ola Partner. You can be an Ola Partner:

  • If you already have a car and you want to attach that car with Ola
  • If you know driving, but lack a car
  • If you have a fleet and you want to attach the same with Ola

When was OLA Electric founded?

Ola Electric was founded in 2017, as a new subsidiary of the Ola company that caters to the new-age, sensible users of electric vehicles.

What is Ola Dash?

Ola Dash was an Ola service that the cab aggregating giant founded in 2015, to provide quick commerce service. However, the service was suspended as per the Ola statements dated June 25, 2022.

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