How Ola took over older taxi providers in India

No army can stop an idea whose time has come. — Victor Hugo

Taxis have always been there on the roads in India. From the Yellow Taxis of Kolkata, to the Kaali Peeli of Mumbai, different parts of the country had their own local solutions from in-city transportation.

There were also a few taxis companies prospering in the pre-Ola, Uber days such as- Meru cabs, Yellow cabs, Dot cabs etc. All of them are now much smaller players in the cab market as compared to Ola which claims to have 80% of the market. How can a new player with zero experience in the cab industry, leave the others in dust in 5 years?

(A) Redefine Your Market- The taxi market has not really been as huge in the past as it has become. Ashwath Damodaran, famous professor of Finance in the past had estimated Uber to have a valuation of ~ 6 Billion USD based on the the total available market of cabs in June 2014. But Uber today is not a cab company, its a transportation company and hence it has gulped down the neighbouring markets to increase its size. Same has been done by Ola in India. Look at Ola founder pitching his company in 2011 and finding very few takers in audience because everyone looked at it as a taxi company.

(B) Ride the new mediums to solve customer problems- Ola used mobile, GPS, and online payments to make the taxi hailing experience fast and natural. Now you could book taxi without talking to any one on the phone, just press a button and get a consistence experience. With millions of people new to using smartphones, somebody had to take advantage of using these smartphones to provide better services. Ola took this opportunity hands on.

(C) Provide consistency and listen to the customer- Ola has offered a level of consistency that was never really seen in the past. And with customer review taken after each ride, every opportunity to tap the customer voice was taken.

(D) Learn at scale- Ola has cast a wide net of cabs in India. Now it is able to learn about efficiencies and operate at a scale which others can not do. Since they can learn more, they can improve faster and taken even further lead in the industry.

(E) Experiment, experiment, experiment- Ola keeps on experimenting with different services in its offering. It even attempted to provide boats to people stuck in Chennai floods.

Yet another proof that Ola sees itself in transportation industry, not in the cab industry

There are more reasons for the success of Ola one of them being a very competitive and innovative competitor in the market — Uber!

In India these two companies are competing neck to neck, each trying to trump the other with innovation, speed and scale leverages. May the customer win in the end!


I am the founder of Chatdesk. Chatdesk enables hotel guests to chat with the room service, if you are hotel owner or a regular traveler who stays in hotels, hotel chat would be interesting for you. You can follow/talk to me here on Twitter.

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