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Entrepreneur Speak | Ola Cabs Co-founder - Bhavish Aggarwal | Taxi Services Startup | upGrad

Apr 07, 2020
you IIT Bombay I finished my degree in 2008 in computer science there and the IIT Bombay experience was actually an eye opener for me and gave me a lot of exposure to

entrepreneur

ship to

entrepreneur

s. you know one-off talks and Mumbai is actually in the center of the business world so that gave me a lot of exposure and after that I worked at Microsoft for two years from 2008 to 2010 but as soon as I graduated there was this itch to want to do something on my own at some point and after two years at my job at my job was very exciting but i decided to just take the risk and it was pretty early in my career.
entrepreneur speak ola cabs co founder   bhavish aggarwal taxi services startup upgrad
I was only 24 when I started so you know I had I didn't really don't know anything that stuck as such I think first time entrepreneurs especially young ones you know start from a much more personal pain point than you know an excel sheet or a very entrepreneurial and you know financial analyst is kind of a focus to set up a business and that's what we also knew was a person we actually started a business called Ola trip comm and turned that after six months in all our tabs come and the whole trip had to do with selling weekend vacations online and it was because of a personal pain of not being able to know vacations booked in major cities that never went anywhere but as we did it we realized from the added pain point of tab aggregation for hourly rentals or off-station travel and that's how we shift from selling travel to selling you know , to build a website where you can book caps to get out of the station say mumbai to pune or delhi to agra etc. that was the first portal we created and then from there we gradually kept learning more about the business.
entrepreneur speak ola cabs co founder   bhavish aggarwal taxi services startup upgrad

More Interesting Facts About,

entrepreneur speak ola cabs co founder bhavish aggarwal taxi services startup upgrad...

We delve into transportation. We learned how big the urban transportation opportunity is for today. Our mission is to develop mobility for. r all over india i started in 2010 mid 2010 august 2010 and that time i started it was not as popular market as it is today and starting it was not so socially accepted and i come from a small town called Luciana i am not here in the city, so my family really reacted. You know they said you couldn't become a travel agent and you know they didn't

speak

to me for six months after that, so I think things are much better these days.
entrepreneur speak ola cabs co founder   bhavish aggarwal taxi services startup upgrad
Families are more tolerant. You've seen some role models emerge from the last five six ten years, but I would say for entrepreneurs who want to get started in the business world don't wait for the best time, there's no, you know, no best time or right time to start the right time to start is when you want to you feel like you want to do something and you want to create a great business and that's the right time and you should aim big don't try and solve small problems aim to solve really big and important problems Enola Dams we actually saw a customer need that you can't get quality transportation on demand it's not easy for you to get it now because we have increased but three four years ago it was not easy to book a car to get around town or go out of town and that was the inner core that we caught and built around that and today we believe that people don't need to have cars because cars are now available. available every five minutes on the app and it's much easier to get around cities now but that was very different three years ago our business model is pretty simple we are we take a commission from each driver for every trip we send to our drivers we don't own the cars we work with driver partners who own cars and today we have about two and a half to 50,000 car owners on our platform and every ride we send to them we honor them with a small commission that they keep at the forefront it's all about innovation the market leader always has to outpace innovation and keep innovating products to make sure he's lol d and he's growing the market and he's providing a better experience for customers and we've done this many times in our short history, for example, we launched auto rickshaws about a year or 810 months ago and that was unheard of and unthinkable.
entrepreneur speak ola cabs co founder   bhavish aggarwal taxi services startup upgrad
So magnetic and auto rickshaws are quite a big business for us nowadays a few months ago we launched a food delivery product which we launched across the delivery product that's how you keep doing product innovation to keep building your ecosystem and making sure you're first choice for consumers is a number of incremental things that a product is better for local conditions, for example one thing we did recently that has had a huge impact on our business, we've made our app much smoother in 2g India's to 2g country if you dig into country type people don't have 3G connections and people work with 2g data and our app actually we have done a lot of optimizations we have released a lite version or knowing that people can use 2g networks much more easily and that in smaller cities the number of users has really increased.
When we saw people using us in small towns, we were very excited to learn that

taxi

s can even go very, very deep. India there is a market for mobility, even in cities like Siliguri or Coimbatore or even smaller cities than those, but when we talked to users there we realized that it is not so easy for them to use the data they know. I don't have proper 3G networks, even drivers in those cities don't have proper 3G networks and just a basic solution built for the biggest cities won't work there and we listened, listened, did surveys, understood the scale of the problem and decided to create a product solution for it. very well framed question about our business.
Right now, there are a lot of macro trends in India, not just for our business, but for the entire Internet mobility business. trends our india is seeing immense growth in mobile phones people in india have never had access to a screen that is in their hands like mobile phones and not many people had desktop computers in india television is a medium and mobile phones have really opened up this interaction medium for the first time with Indians and that's going to open up consumption in every vertical and companies like ours, companies like e-commerce companies are going to have to innovate for that platform, that's a , the hardware is there now and it's getting cheaper and cheaper.
Data costs are data is gradually going down 4G is being rolled out data costs are going down and that is again allowing all this consumption on these mobile phones capital is available for smart entrepreneurs to build very local business models and all these things in all this technology, you know, growth is happening in parallel with this interesting thing that I do of sharing the economy globally right where people can now have more fl flexible work hours, people can have more flexible work options and this too has a very deep interaction with the kind of regulations that need to be built around this whole sharing economy and these new mobile ecosystems, you know,

startup

s have to span all these worlds of you know the social impact of the right regulatory economic technology and it is important to bring stakeholders Each of these verticals, for example, we work very deeply with the governments in the center and the state in the cities, we must make sure that they understand the value that we bring to society how we are helping drivers or businessmen to carry a better life how we are building an urban utility for consumers it is much better for the city if people use the shared

taxi

service instead of buying their own cars and there is a search that says taxi takes 15 personal cars off the road and this It's important in developing these products, it's important to make sure that all the stakeholders are well fully aware of what you're trying to build they see value in what you're trying to build and it's important to communicate very openly with the whole ecosystem I personally don't I have a car I don't feel the need to have a many of you know that I see around me many people who they don't buy their first cars, they also know my employees, other people who would have already bought a first car and actually going back to a macro level if they look at India India has only five car owners and our public road infrastructure is also overcrowded and overwhelmed, you know, unlike in the West, where there are 70 car owners and the infrastructure is much better, so India can't have a mobility paradigm where everyone has a car.
It's just not going to happen and the mobility paradigm is going to be a shared service for coal and I see around me or everywhere people are not using the cars if they have one car they are not buying the second car man People like I'm not even buying the first cars, so I think it's going to change a lot faster than most people expected. the error keeps coming back because there isn't if you don't put enough effort into modeling all the assumptions and understanding your business very deeply you'll have things under or over budget that in hindsight you realize later on so it's important to you know how to be very detailed when it comes to budgeting and planning it is important to understand all the levers all the assumptions clearly state or state your assumptions clearly state your risks model them in financial terms and execute that plan once you have planned and once you execute that budget, it's important that you periodically, in a structured way, keep reviewing those assumptions and keep validating them on the positive or the negative side those assumptions that's something we've learned from experience there are so many mistakes we've made in it's not even hard to remember some specific one that is worthwhile in each step we have made so many mistakes that You know?
So Ron's hindsight learned from that. Let me think of you. I've learned to separate those things separate budgets for different goals and have clearly defined metrics even for, say, a brand building campaign I think the whole structure is a good question a lot of companies have their own style of organization we like be agile if we like you know build organizational structures for six to nine months and then review them again because the business is growing so fast the context changes and every six nine months we have reorganized and you know some sums as we grow we have gotten deeper and deeper into our Prada resin work once we were little like when we were younger we had more broader roles much more generalist working in broad pathways as we got older we got specialists who got deeper and deeper into every problem we have but the core of our way of organizing ourselves, since we are agile, but we want to ensure We rarely take a six nine month view no more than that because we are growing so fast the most important thing for us is the right attitude experience is important in some verticals but it is not the only factor we hire a lot because of attitude you know we had a lot Because of the fit culture and every new company again has its own unique culture, it's important to understand that culture and make sure you can clearly communicate that you know and objectively and compare candidates against that list objectively so we can we focus a lot on you know a lot on ambition a lot on passion and aggressive execution a lot on you know obviously intellect and problem solving skills in our in our house Oh bullshit about being first principles we don't like to work from a I've done this before approach this has been done before this way we like to reimagine things and build from first principles we like to focus on the big problems and be ambitious about what you want to build and I like to think that we work very, very hard on those problems I think these these three things are called with each value of each employee, fill and hold if the Leaders put them on display and if they follow each other every day, you know they don't stand by having something on the wall or having the pillars painted in the office I think. that's very ephemeral it's about senior leadership middle leadership you know middle management exhibiting those traits every day and in every meeting or in every aspect of the life of the company and the way to institutionalize that is to say have that part of the structures of Performance management has made me make sure that as a

founder

down everyone reflects that every day Ola means hello in Spanish and it's a very nice energetic youthful expression and that's how you know we just take that and think we'll make it a very nice and youthful brand in india.
We're still on that journey, but that thought remains because we're essentially a very utilitarian service. We get a lot of word of mouth.and we have. We did a great job institutionalizing what you know by accelerating that word of mouth through a referral program so our referral program is pretty big we get a lot of our clients through that as we've grown our brand has gotten bigger and stronger and the customers you know. be drawn to us because it's the biggest brand in the space and that's organically scaled what helps is if your brand is good if your brand is big you don't have to spend as much on that's a pa id marketing or digital marketing SEM or rap marketing etc but that's all because the mobile app industry in India is very nascent and still a great growth opportunity.
We invest significantly in paid marketing. We also started, say three years ago, doing a lot of web marketing, a lot of sem seo stuff that's completely gone now because we had a mobile first mobile only company now you know, so from a web somewhere two years ago we created a program referral and it started to scale really well because that was a way to speed up word of mouth for later last year we started doing brand marketing you know we did a great TV campaign and consistent over these three years the marketing has been of mobile apps on mobile platforms which has actually increased significantly in the last 100 years our share of the budget in the mobile app ecosystem has gone significantly higher than most other paid channels so it's actually very simple if i am an Ola user i can refer my friend once he joins me and him with 200 rupees or full of money so it is a great You way of rewarding users for referring their friends to you and you know they say things like baguettes so one good customer brings another good customer and it's a great way to make sure you have the right kind of customers on your platform it's very important making sure that the investor is aligned for the long term with the vision that you want to build and it's all been very fortunate to have a wonderful group of investors who understand the internet space globally, who are focused on the very long term and who are excellent . partners of the entrepreneur and the management team we have great nurses at Tiger global at Softbank at Sequoia parent all of these people have really helped us leverage their learnings and they have also been great partners on the ultimate vision so most importantly to My is that they know how to ensure that the fund and the specific party partner in the fund understand a long term vision and really believe that we started in 2010 so it was a very slow start for us which was not a time when there was a lot of excitement in the start-up scene in India and we had to get the business going, we didn't have much capital either, so I remember the first of January 2011 when it switched to Ola taxis, we had a trip the whole month and I was very excited and the next month we had four trips, one a week and again I was very excited, it was a very, very slow start because capital was a big constraint for me.
It was us from the beginning, but we knew all along that we were solving a very big problem and we knew that once we got some scale, we should start reaching out to investors and taking the money, so sometime in late 2012 we restarted Lea and we left a global Lea Tiger and he was very excited about the opportunity and gave us money I think now is a very different time it's important to make sure you don't take money too soon it's important to build a prototype build and get real customers get income if you're in the business of making money immediately if that's the product me You have to make sure you have a prototype that scales it up as far as you can invest your own money and then go into a fund so you can have a conversation with them from a position of strength in India for two years and when Uber came to India. we were very small, you know, I remember we had less than half a million dollars in the bank when Hoover entered India and we were doing like 2,000 trips a day, which is nothing, so uber and Ola have evolved quite a bit in parallel in the India. done a much better job of creating a much more local product and if you look at how a local business can maintain its market leadership and grow its market share, it's about being more local fundamentally, it's about being more local in everything related to the product. rebuilding different geographies and different cultures require different characteristics in the brand that you are building in our case both on the driver side and on the consumer side and in partnerships and integration with the ecosystem because being local you can do these things much faster the user experience is getting a car in less than five minutes getting into a car that is clean and the driver is courteous and you can easily pay for that ride and this experience should be through multiple modes of transportation different people prefer different modes for different use cases for example we have three types of taxi

services

we have taxi pusher jack which is a budget tab we have an auto rickshaw service we are launching a bus service quite soon so we we see ourselves. since it gives the choice between different modes all those modes should be accessible very quickly in less than five minutes and you should have a good ride experience and checkout should be very smooth its important to just get into the fire don't wait on the right time don't wait for money don't wait for a team you know etc. if you are passionate about it then just get involved, this is the time when India has a lot of opportunities. ity for budding entrepreneurs there are multiple everything about India consumption is being reimagined using modern technology especially mobile and just jump in and you will discover the rest along the way

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