OLA - Competing World's Most Valued Startup from India

Startup Name Ola
Headquarter Bangalore
Co-founders Bhavish Agarwal, Ankit Bhati
Sector Trasportation
Founded December 2010
Parent Company ANI technologies Pvt. Ltd.


Ola - Introduction
Ola - Industry Details
Ola - Founders
Ola - Launching Startup
Ola - Initial Team
Ola - Name, Tagline & Logo
Ola - Product
Ola - Business and Revenue Model
Ola - User Acquisition
Ola - Funding
Ola - Competitors
Ola - Acquisitions and Merger

Ola - Introduction

Ola is owned by ANI technologies Pvt. Ltd. Formerly known as OlaCabs, Ola was started in Dec 2010 by 2 IIT Bombay graduates. Ola serves as an efficient taxi aggregator (now they have got in to bike and cycles too) and bridge the gap between cab owners and commuters. Instead of buying and renting out their own cars, Ola partners with a number of taxi drivers and owners, add a touch of modern technology to the whole set up, where people could book cars at short notice through their app. Ola is India’s homegrown ride-hailing app with about 60% market share in India with users across over 110 cities of India and 10 lakh driver-partners.  Driven by a hyperlocal approach, Ola is committed to its mission of building mobility for a billion people.

Ola - Industry Details

India’s taxi hailing market is valued at more than $10 Billion. The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.7%. The increase is supposed to happen due to changing lifestyles of travellers and increasing disposable income of consumers, especially in Tier-I and Tier-II cities.

Ola - Founders

Bhavish graduated from IIT Bombay with a B. Tech in Computer Science in the year 2008. Bhavish Aggarwal has worked for Microsoft research, Bangalore for two years right after college. There, he passed two years with filing 2 patents and 3 research publishing in international journals. While trying to chase his dream of entrepreneurship, he started an online company to sell short duration tours and holidays online before changing that into OlaCabs. Bhavish is now the CEO of Ola. As of 2019, Bhavish Agarwal's personal net worth is estimated around $350 Million.   Ankit Bhatia is the cofounder of Ola and heads the technical aspects of Olacabs, ensuring a quick, convenient and instinctive experience for the customers and partners. He joined IIT Bombay in 2004 for Btech in Mechanical Engg and MTech in CAD and Automation. By 2009 he had already worked on several freelance projects and startups like Wilcom, QED42 etc. and finally decided to give up his nomadic professional life for a start-up of his own. He joined the Olacabs journey in November 2010.

Ola - Launching Startup

Born in Ludhiana, Bhavish was just like every other success-driven and successful entrepreneur. 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, which ended in a very bad experience. The driver stopped the car in the middle of the journey and demanded a renegotiation of what Bhavish was paying. After being refused, he proceeded to abandon him enroute 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 a quality cab services.

For the first time, he saw the amount of potential that an extraordinary cab booking service could have, and hence, he changed his business from his earlier start-up to the one we today know as – OlaCabs.

This was in December 2010, he was joined by his co-founder Ankit Bhati in his start-up journey. His parents didn’t agree with his idea in the beginning of course, like all Indian Parents won’t. They were thoroughly displeased with his decision to become a ‘travel agent’. But nevertheless, their support increased as they got their first round of angel investment (from Snapdeal founder Kunal Bahl, Rehan yar Khan and Anupam Mittal).

Bhavish believed that anyone can have a good business idea but to function it successfully one must have a scalable model upon which the business runs. According to him, the best or one of the best & safest model one can or should adopt is running a business with owning “zero” inventory.

Also read how BookMyShow and Jugnoo got started.

Ola - Initial Team

After the idea, the design and vision were done by Usha Loutongbam, product manager 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 the company for two months of internship and did an excellent job rolling out the release in real quick time. After that the iOS app was taken over by Atul Manwar and android by Ankit Kumar and backend APIs by Neeti Birla. The main focus of the new releases is to make the app feature rich while constantly improving the user experience and yet not losing the essence of one touch cab booking.

Ola Logo- StartupTalky

In Spanish, Hola translates to ‘Hello’ hence the name Ola probably to indicate that their services are as easy and friendly as that, just like saying a ‘hello’. Ola's logo is simple but styled as OLΛ. The logo also has an "O" which represents a tyre.

Ola - Product

Over the last one year, Ola has been expanding its range of services —offering a range of ride options from budget to luxury, subscription deals, and more recently in-cab entertainment — to outmatch Uber on strategies beyond pricing. The company also offers a service called Ola Corporate for the companies. With Ola Corporate, people can track the travel expenses of their employees while also ensuring their safety.

Ola also launched Ola Money,a mobile wallet, which makes it convenient for riders to pay for the rides.

Ola - Business Model and Revenue Model

Ola's business model works on a simple concept. OLA acts as a facilitator in providing 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 and they could be either self-employed or work for an operator who owns multiple cars. Just like how we use the OLA App, the drivers get access to a driver mobile app on their Smartphone once they register with OLA. This is done only after a thorough check of authenticity and conducting due diligence of commercial papers and personal papers of driver and operator. The drivers have flexibility to decide their own time to login to OLA Application and accept requests for rides from customers. They may choose to remain logged out of the system as per their convenience. Ola takes a commission of an average 15% on all the booking done through the app.

Ola consider 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 time taken to travel
4: Peak Pricing- Direct Ratio depending on demand for cab
5: Service Tax- 5.6 %
6: Swachh Bharat Tax- 0.2%
7: Toll Charges- Toll Collection in case you cross Toll Junction on roads

Ola - User Acquisition

Ola has also got in to 3 international market namely Australia, 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 over 100 cities.

Ola - Funding

Date Stage Amount Investor
July 2014 Series C USD 40 Million Steadview Capital and Sequoia Capital
October 2014 Series D USD 210 Million SoftBank Group,Tiger Global and Matrix Partners India
April 2015 Series E USD 403 Million DST Global, GIC and Falcon Edge Capital
November 2015 Series F USD 500 Million Baillie Gifford, Falcon Edge Capital, Tiger Global, SoftBank Group and DST Global
April 2017 Series G USD 260 Million SoftBank Group
May 2017 Series F USD 100 Million RNT Capital Advisors and Falcon Edge Capital
October 2017 Series G USD 1.1 Billion Tencents Holdings and SoftBank Group
September 2018 Series I USD 50 Million Sailing Capital
January 2019 Series J USD 74 Million Steadview Capital
January 2019 Series J USD 92 Million Sachin Bansal

Ola has raised a total of $3 billion. This also includes Debt financing and secondary market. Ola's current valuation is more than $6 billion.

Considering that the 8 years old startup, Ola is valued at $6 billion makes it the third highest valued consumer internet company in India. The lure of this home-grown cab aggregator has proved irresistible to investors.

As per data till October 8 2018, Ola's major shareholders include SoftBank Group (26.1%), Tiger Global (15.94 %), Tencent (10.39 %), Matrix Partners (8.57 %), and DST Global (6.72%).

Ola - Competitors

Ola directly competes with Uber, world’s most well-financed startup having raised more than $15 billion in equity and debt on a recent valuation of $62 billion.  Other players in India include Meru Cabs Company Pvt. Ltd. which owns meru cabs, Carzonrent (India) Pvt. Ltd which owns carzonrent and Zoomcar India Private Ltd which owns zoomcar. In bike taxi, Rapido is slowly capturing Ola's market share.

Ola - Acquisitions and Merger

Acquiring Date Startup Name Amount
March 2015 TaxiForSure USD 200 Million
November 2015 Geotagg Undiscolsed
March 2016 Qarth Undiscolsed
December 2017 Foodpanda USD 31.7 Million
April 2018 Ridlr Undiscolsed

Also read startup story of BookMyShow, Jugnoo and MakeMytrip

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About Shubham Kumar

Founder @StartupTalky. IIT KGP grad. Learner. Dedicated to the service of the startup Ecosystem. Love meeting people. Let's connect - [email protected]
  • Bangalore