The Ola Story: Time-ly Travel

Ola made travel a whole-new experience at a city level. For those with the public transport woes that encapsulated crowds, unavailability, discomfort or affordability — Ola cabs drove those woes away.

Ola was a dream come true to many an Indian in 2010 — when travelling was a daily necessity for most. And yet, owning a personal car was not a reality for most either. The arrival of Ola, an Indian startup and cab-for-hire service, eliminated the need for the personally owned car. That Indian middle class professional who was saving to buy his own four-wheeler so he or she could show up for meetings in decent shape could now arrive in impeccable form by booking an Ola ride.

The Uniqueness of the Ola Strategy can be summed up in three acronym points –

O: Original Idea

L: Local need fulfilment

A: Advancing with time

The Ola idea came to co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal when he was on a trip from Bengaluru to Bandipur. In the middle of the journey, the cab driver halted and demanded a revised fare from Aggarwal. The sheer discomfort and bad experience led him to devise a reliable and clean cab service for Indians. He was already a holiday and tour entrepreneur and the potential in the cab-for-hire business excited him immediately.

Partnering with Ankit Bhati, now the CTO of Ola, the plan was to aggregate and engage existing cab and rental car owners. Ola gave them a direct platform via the Ola app and Ola call centre, which steadily guaranteed business throughout the day. In an original idea, commuters and cabs were happy with a longstanding gap finally bridged by technology and entrepreneurial insight. Now in Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, Pune and Hyderabad, Ola creates value out of travel for its customers.

Ola services range from auto rickshaws to economy and to luxury travel cars — suiting the needs and budgets of commuters. It also managed to create a user base out of commuters who don’t have smartphones or the app knowhow by creating the Ola call centre for easy cab bookings. For commuters who aren’t comfortable with credit card detail sharing or with e-wallets, the option for cash payments has increased appeal and brand loyalty. With hashtag campaigns like #chaloniklo, Ola brought much of the Indian public out of their homes, as they saw a reduced dependency on other public transport, or privately owned vehicles which they couldn’t drive themselves.

Ola has kept itself ahead of its competition by staying relevant and advancing with the needs of its commuters. It is driven by a hyper-local approach that ensures better market penetration. In line with a futuristic vision, it also offers bike booking, electric cars and food delivery services in different markets, including Australia and London. In 2021, Ola launched Ola Cars — a new and pre-owned marketplace for cars, in 30 cities.

The Ola strategy story has been based on strong points of innovation, relevance and timely diversification. This has ensured brand building as well as constant recall as the go-to for cab hailing services. There has been contention regarding the safety of drivers in some markets but Ola has constantly increased due diligence to ensure that these are eliminated for better customer experiences.

To read more interesting stories about Indian startups, just stay with us on GroCurv!

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Co-Founder, GroCurv.com A marketplace for Professional Services. Making procurement Quick, Transparent, Reliable.

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Venkatesh Rangachari

Venkatesh Rangachari

Co-Founder, GroCurv.com A marketplace for Professional Services. Making procurement Quick, Transparent, Reliable.

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