Kaylene Hong was Asia Reporter for The Next Web between 2013 and 2014, based in Singapore. She is bilingual in English and Mandarin. Stay in Kaylene Hong was Asia Reporter for The Next Web between 2013 and 2014, based in Singapore. She is bilingual in English and Mandarin. Stay in touch via Twitter or Google+.
Uber may be a market leader in the US and is expanding aggressively in Asia, but Indian startup Olacabs, an Uber-like service that aggregates car rentals and point-to-point cab services, is confident of taking on the Western company by focusing on solving local problems.
Bhavish Aggarwal, the co-founder and CEO of Olacabs, explains that as a local company, it has a “strong understanding of the market that is second to none.” He tells TNW:
While Uber is focusing only on a niche segment, even in such a space, a Western solution cannot solve local problems like unplanned roads, traffic snarls and unavailability of precise address information — aspects which are an everyday reality while commuting in India.
We are building localized solutions at scale, not compromising on quality and the end to end experience, for the Indian problems.
To pit itself against Uber, Olacabs has just raised a Series B round of funding from Matrix Partners India and existing investor, New York-based Tiger Global Management. Indian media outlet NextBigWhat pegs the funding at $20 million.
Olacabs is currently in five Indian cities, and the latest funding will go towards its plan to launch in more cities and scale rapidly. Aggarwal tells TNW that Olacabs is also looking to improve its technology — all of which is aimed at helping its cars reach customers on time and solve problems for drivers. One of the interesting things it’s doing is to detect potholes.
Olacabs says that it has already chalked up more than five million visits on its website. The company also has an Uber-like app which allows users to book and track cabs, as well as generate the customer’s fare — which Olacabs takes a 20 percent cut of — and act as an in-car device navigation system.
In the last financial year, more than two million visits on both its Android and iOS apps were recorded, and Aggarwal says he expects this number to grow by over five times in the current year.
On the last count, Olacabs had more than 1800 operators with over 6,500 cars across the five cities where it is operational.
Headline image via Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images
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