OLA - Competing World's Most Valued Startup from India

'Ola', the company needs no introduction. The first Indian cab aggregator company, Ola has made availing cab services a smooth experience. Owned by ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd., and formerly known as OlaCabs, Ola was started in Dec 2010 by two IIT Bombay graduates. Ola serves as an efficient taxi aggregator and bridges 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 (as of 2014) in India with users across 100 cities of India and 15 lakh 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. In 2017, Ola also started off a bicycle sharing service called 'Ola Pedal' to facilitate last mile connectivity. Here is a detailed company profile of OLA.

OLA - Company Highlights

Startup Name Ola
Headquarter Bangalore
Founders Bhavish Aggarwal, Ankit Bhati
Sector Trasportation
Founded December 2010
Parent Company ANI technologies Pvt. Ltd.
Website olacabs.com

About Ola and How it Works
Ola - Industry Details
Ola - Founders
How was Ola Started
Ola - Initial Team
Ola - Full Form, Tagline & Logo
Ola - Business Model and Revenue Model
Ola - User Acquisition
Ola - Funding & Investors/Valuation
Ola - Startup Challenges
Ola - Competitors
Ola - Acquisitions and Merger
Ola - Growth
Ola - FAQs

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About Ola

Ola has super simplified the process of cab booking. From easy payment options to keeping the passenger entertained on the go with 'Ola Play', Ola takes care of all to ensure a smooth ride. Ola now also offers self-drive cars. Besides, be it for self-drive or as cab, Ola offers a wide range of cars to choose from depending on the number of travelers, budget and convenience. For traveling within the city, apart from cabs, one can also hire shared taxis, auto, bike 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 IIT Kanpur and IIT Madras campus with over 500 cycles.

In 2016, Ola launched ‘Ola Corporate’. Through Ola Corporate while employees can easily book their rides, the fare is deducted from a company’s Ola Corporate prepaid account. Through Ola Corporate, any company can easily track the travel expenses of its employees while also ensuring their safety.

Ola 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 and allows the policyholders to claim Rs 5,000 per day in case of hospitalization.

Ola operates with a lot of transparency. The Commission is given to drivers per sale made. It is pocket-friendly as their charges are far much less than any other cab operators. With acquisition of FoodPanda in December 2017, Ola also forayed into the cloud kitchen segment.

Ola launched India's first multimodal electric vehicle project on 26th of May, 2017. The project brought together industry and government to pioneer electric vehicles for public and shared mobility in Nagpur. Ola is providing 200+ electric vehicles  for booking in Nagpur through its app. Established as a separate entity, Ola Electric Mobility Pvt. Ltd also reached unicorn status with $250 million investment form SoftBank in July 2019.

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% during 2022-2024. 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.

Also Read : YULU: Environmentally Viable Mode of Transportation for the Last Mile

Ola - Founders

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

Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati
Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati

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, Bangalore for two years right after college. There, he passed two years with filing 2 patents and 3 research publications 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 Aggarwal is now the CEO of Ola. Born on 28th August 1985, OLA owner Bhavish Aggarwal's age is just 34! while, his personal net worth was estimated to be around $350 Million as per 2019 data.

Ankit Bhati is the co-founder 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 B-Tech in Mechanical Engineering and M-Tech 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.

How was Ola Started

OLA was launched on 3rd December 2010, and there is an interesting history behind starting up the company. Born in Ludhiana, Ola owner Bhavish Aggarwal, was just like every other success-driven entrepreneur. Initially, Bhavish, owner of Ola cabs, 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, founder of Ola Cabs, 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.

In December 2010, Bhavish was joined by his co-founder Ankit Bhati in his start-up journey. Bhavish's 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 OLA got their first round of angel investment (from Snapdeal founder Kunal Bahl, Rehan yar Khan and Anupam Mittal).

Bhavish, ola cabs founder, 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 safest model one can or should adopt is running a business with owning “zero” inventory.

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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 was to make the app feature rich while constantly improving the user experience and yet not losing the essence of one touch cab booking.

As per LinkedIn Ola currently has over 8,000 employees.

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Ola Logo- StartupTalky
Ola Logo

In case you are wondering what is the full form of OLA, well! there is no such full form. The name is derived from a Spanish word 'Hola', that translates to ‘Hello’. The name Ola, probably indicates OLA's services are as easy and friendly as that, just like saying a ‘hello’. Ola's logo is simple, and styled as OLA. The logo also has an "O" which represents a tyre.

Ola - Business Model and Revenue Model

Ola has a simple business model. It 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 250 cities.

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Ola - Funding & Investors / Valuation

Ola has raised a total funding of around $3.8 billion over 25 rounds. This also includes Debt financing and secondary market. As of October 2019, Ola's valuation is about $10 billion. Their latest funding was raised on Sep 23, 2019 from a Series J round.

Here is a breakup of the total funding raised by OLA till date-

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

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

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

SoftBank, which has also emerged as the largest shareholder in Ola’s main rival Uber, holds a 26% stake while Tiger Global Management, another influential shareholder, has around 16%. Other major shareholders include venture capital firm Matrix Partners India with an 8.6% stake and Chinese Internet conglomerate Tencent with 10.4%.

Ola is funded by 44 investors. ARK Ola Pre IPO Private Investment Trust and Hussam Khoury are the most recent investors.

Ola - Startup Challenges

Initially, the founders Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati had to face many challenges. They worked long hours and sometimes Ankit, co-founder of Ola, had to code for 48 hours straight. Sometimes they have had to drive the customer to their desired locations because the drivers had not shown up. But this did not dampen their spirits. They worked day and night and people started liking their services.

They started getting famous quickly for the services they provided at such a low rate. The twist in their story happened when angel investors Rohit Bansal and Kunal Bahl invested Rs 2 crore in their business. This gave them an initial push and since then there was no looking back for the company.

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 - Competitors

Ola directly competes with Uber, 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 and Zoomcar India Private. Ltd. which owns zoomcar. In bike taxi, Rapido is slowly capturing Ola's market share.

Ola - Acquisitions and Merger

Ola has acquired 6 organizations. Their most recent acquisition was Pikup.ai on Aug 13, 2019.

Acquiring Date Startup Name Amount
March 2015 TaxiForSure $200 Million
November 2015 Geotagg Undiscolsed
March 2016 Qarth Undiscolsed
December 2017 Foodpanda $31.7 Million
April 2018 Ridlr Undiscolsed
August 2019 Pikup.ai Undisclosed

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Ola - Growth

In 2010, the Ola owners Bhavish and Ankit identified a serious gap in Mumbai. Cabs used to be idle. Cab operators charged very 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 being a company that provides a livelihood to thousands of people. Today, Ola has become a part of people’s everyday life in many cities.

Talking about figures, in FY 2019, Ola Cabs' operational revenue increased to Rs 2543.63 crore from Rs 1847.53 crore in FY18. While the company's losses decreased from Rs 2842.26 crore in FY18 to Rs 2592.92 Crore in FY19. Ola is also in talks with Microsoft and is expecting to raise $150-200 million from the tech giant soon. As revealed by Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal, the company is planning to launch IPO in the next two years.

Ola - FAQs

Is Ola Chinese Company?

Ola is an Indian Company but is funded by Chinese investors like Tencent Holdings, Steadview Capital, Sailing Capital and China, Eternal Yield International Ltd, 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 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 such full form. The name is derived from a Spanish word 'Hola', that translates to ‘Hello’.