Story of Ola Cabs: India’s Answer to Uber

When Bhavish Agarwal, Ola Cabs’ Founder, was starting the company, his father told him, “Kya Beta IIT se Pass Hoke Travel Agency Kholega”. Read the full story!

By Aakarsh Arora Apr 8 2021 4:10PM 5029 Read
Bhavesh Agarwal’s Secret Ola Story: Innovation & Change

These days’ traveling in metro cities is a colossal issue due to traffic snarls everywhere. Certainly, people never used to get taxis on time to reach their workplace and other destinations. But, this problem made a profound impact on two young IIT-Bombay graduates who became determined to create a solution.

The young graduates introduced a technology-powered cab-hailing service by the name, Ola Cabs. The firm has become a premier means of transport for the majority of Indians. The disruption it has caused in the vehicle market has made it an indispensable part of our lives.

Ola Story – Agarwal’s Early Life

Ola Cabs is a modern age startup founded by two IIT-Bombay graduates Bhavesh Agarwal and Ankit Bhati in 2010. The duo has come a long way in this journey from scratch to a unicorn startup.

Well, to take you down memory lane, Bhavesh Agarwal passed out of IIT in 2008 with a degree in Computer Science and started working in Microsoft as a Research Intern. But deep down he was always eager to be an entrepreneur.

Not many people know that before working on the OLA story, he also turned into a blogger and started his blog called destitech related to startups and everyday innovations in the tech world.

One fine day, he took the most revolutionary step of his life and decided to take giant strides towards the path of entrepreneurship. He quit his highly paid job in Microsoft and started an online travel company that aimed at providing short-duration trips to people.

Ola Story – The Idea

The idea of Ola came when one day he was traveling from Bangalore to Bandipur and faced a nasty experience while dealing with the rented car driver.

He felt a gap and decided to mitigate this problem of transportation people face in their mundane life.

One trait which differentiates a successful entrepreneur from his unsuccessful counterpart is the power of execution. Bhavesh immediately got an idea and started working on the Ola story.

Bhavesh roped in his friend and college mate Ankit Bhatti and officially founded Ola Cabs in 2010.

Ola Story - Early Stages

Both the founders had ideation of bridging the gap between taxi drivers and commuters by commuting technology but initially, it was cumbersome to fulfill.

The business model was to connect the taxi drivers to commuters through the internet or mobile application without purchasing any taxi which means a zero inventory business.

The commencing challenge was to make a user-friendly app. Ankit was unceasingly coding the app for 36 hours and Bhavesh used to go to seek drivers to register with their company.

They also drew in developers to make a first-hand user-friendly app for iOS and Android users. The Ola story was going on to its fullest possibility.

They faced a lot of difficulties but still possessed a dogged attitude and their diligence is proven by the fact that in some instances Bhavesh himself had gone to take commuters to their destinations when drivers didn’t arrive on time.

Fortunately, they got their first round of funding from Snapdeal founder Mr. Kunal Bahl. They zeroed in on improving their user experience.

Ola Business Model

By deploying modern exponential technology, OLA CABS acts as an intermediary between taxi drivers and common people. The business model is uncanny in the way that one can book a cab by connecting to a cab owner with just one click on a smartphone.

Drivers register them on the app voluntarily and get their Ola license and the firm charges a 15% commission on total trips. It creates a win-win situation for both, drivers and the company, as drivers are getting more employment opportunities in consideration of a commission to the company.

Ola Story – Real Struggle

In the early days of the startup, Ola Cabs used to give drivers 5000 a day without any salary with the desired criteria met. But as the company started consolidating, they reduced it to Rs 750 a day

If we delve deeper into the Ola story, then it unravels that the founders struck the hammer when the iron of growing penetration of the internet was hot. India was undergoing a sea change to become a digitized economy due to which OLA decided to have its share of cake in it.

The connectivity issue it has addressed has resulted in its unmatchable growth thanks to which today it is valued at more than $ 5 billion.

To allure more customers, it resorts to efficient marketing tools like giving a discount on the first five rides or giving rewards of different kinds.

Women’s Safety is an issue which the whole nation is grappling with so to combat this problem, there is a rating system on the application through which we can validate the credibility of the driver. Besides this, if any woman sees any dark sign, they can immediately report through the inbuilt features in the app.

Ola Story - Today’s Scenario

With perseverance and cutting-edge technology, Ola Cabs has reached Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities. The pace at which the company has scaled up and grown its pan- India presence is unbeatable, kudos to a unique business model for solving a large-scale problem at such ease.

It has expanded to 250 cities with a network of 1.5 million drivers in India. The cherry on top of the cake is that it is setting its footprints globally as it has diversified into countries like UK, Australia, and New Zealand.

It is not hard to believe that with such impeccable growth OLA has amassed more than 60% of the Market share with more than 200000 bookings each day. One thing which makes it distinctive from its competitors that it is diversifying into synergies by spending money on research and development.

To exemplify, it has acquired Foodpanda and entered into the market of selling groceries online. Also, it is venturing out new technologies like e-bikes and e-rickshaws by deploying Artificial Intelligence.


The Ola story has materialized into reality through a great vision of a user-friendly and market fit product that has given solace to daily commuters. The company has leveraged its growth by giving choices of rides to offering membership bargains.

Time to Time innovation by using modern cutting edge technology and making the product easier to use are pre-requisites to the success of a startup. These steps have contributed to the success and prosperity of Ola Cabs. There is a future rich in growth and progress arriving for the modern age startup.

Aakarsh Arora
Aakarsh Arora View More Posts

I am a student pursuing my graduation from delhi university. I am a curious person exploring the field of content writing. I am looking for more career opportunities in the field

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