NEW DELHI, June 17: India’s biggest ride-hailing firm Ola countered American giant Uber’s “carpet bombing” entry into the country with guerrilla warfare by going into nooks and corners to gain a significant market share, its founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal said.
Speaking at the IIT Bay Area Alumni meet in California, a transcript of which was made available by the company, Aggarwal said Uber was clearly ahead of Ola in terms of fund infusion but it never was able to gain a dominant market share.
Aggarwal claimed when the “competition was at its peak, Uber was outspending us almost 5:1 to the dollar”.
“Yet, we held on to our market share and even today we have 2:1 market share against our competition. They had to really out spend but were never really able to gain dominant market share in India,” he added.
He likened the company’s strategy to guerrillas stating they will “fight the nooks and corners” and win in the long term.
Uber did not respond to an emailed query.
Aggarwal recounted that when Uber entered India in 2013, Ola was a “tiny company” operating in two cities with a mere half a million dollars in the bank.
“We did not have a huge head start against them in India … (however) we were clear about our strengths… we know India better, we ended up building our business model customised around Indian reality in every aspect,” he noted.
He said Ola looked beyond the top five-six cities and has expanded into now almost 200 cities and towns in India.
“It is not easy running a business in Bihar and Eastern UP, but we had to learn how to do that. That is one example of how we had to customise our business model and execution to fight against competition and against Uber in particular…” he said.
Ola, which has expanded operations to countries like Australia and the UK, is all set to take the competition with Uber to the next level as it has recently announced setting up an Advanced Technology Centre (ATC) in San Francisco Bay.
Ola is building a team of over 150 engineers in the US to work on technologies like electric and autonomous vehicles. The company already has a team of about 1,000 engineers in India working in areas like mobility, electric vehicles and fintech.
“…we think of the next decade, we want to invest in and we want to be very relevant in terms of a global scale business and also for building new-age, cutting edge technology which impact the new-age business models of the future, there is no better place in the world to do it than here in the Bay area,” he said.
Aggarwal said the company will be looking to build the team across capabilities of electric mobility, artificial intelligence and machine learning for its core businesses as also autonomous vehicles, especially in the context of developing economies. (PTI)