On a day when US bombed Syria with about 50 missiles, in response to a chemical attack on its citizens, Ola founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal likened the taxi app battle in India to a war where the ‘Americans are carpet bombing India’.
“What happened in China between Uber and Didi was like World War-II. Where there were two people with a lot of ammunition against each other and in the end one company won — India is not like that — our context is not like China's. In China, there are only these large internet giants and the newer companies like Didi can stand on their shoulders. The foreign competitor is actually at a disadvantage... India is not like that,” he said at the ‘India Internet Day’ organised by TiE Delhi.“We are the local guerrillas. We have the Americans carpet bombing us but we will go into the nooks and corners of the country, and we will find those opportunities in the niche areas and in the large area. We will build the products relevant to our country and make sure that we are the company which is more sustainable and more profitable with larger market share,” he added.
Backed by Japanese investment firm Softbank, Ola has raised close to USD 1.57 billion. It also has other investors such as DST Global, Tiger Global and Vanguard Group.
His remarks created a little controversy as both Japan and US were rivals in World War II. “Am not belittling the (world) wars. There can be so many learnings we can have from them...,” he said.
Both Bhavish Aggarwal and Flipkart’s Sachin Bansal in the past have raised voices in favour of protectionism towards 'Indian' companies against foreign competition, which they claim are dumping capital.
Last month too, Aggarwal had invoked Vietnam War to the business competition between Ola and Uber.
“We are the local guerrillas. We have the Americans carpet bombing us but we will go into the nooks and corners of the country, and we will find those opportunities in the niche areas and in the large area. We will build the products relevant to our country and make sure that we are the company which is more sustainable and more profitable with larger market share,” he added.
‘Will become profitable in 2 years’
Aggarwal also said that the Indian entrepreneurship ecosystem is going through an ‘interesting phase’.
“Earlier there was extra exuberance, a mix of investor excitement and entrepreneurial overreach. Now it is about getting bottom-line better,” he said.
Aggarwal was speaking on stage during a fireside chat with Indefi CEO Alok Mittal at the event.
According to him, investors should definitely question companies on their path to profitability. “If there is a clear path to profitability I have not seen investors getting jittery about anything,” he said.
Aggarwal claimed that within two years Ola will become a profitable company.
Ola was started in Mumbai by Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati, who later migrated the company to tech capital Bangalore. Over the years the company has expanded to over 100 cities but has been struggling with quality issues in service and technology.