Ola, the home-grown ride-sharing startup announced its plan to expand to the Australian market in January. Now, the Uber rival has started offering ride-sharing service in Sydney. This is the second market for the company after a launching its services in Perth.
In a released statement, Ola says it has hired a local team to build partnerships and support driver-partners. Sydneysiders can experience the new service at an introductory offer for free rides starting today. Those living in Sydney can download the Ola app from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store and register for an Ola account to begin booking rides. Rides can also be booked to and from Sydney Airport, for drop off and pick up in the designated ride-sharing area.
Ola says the service has received a strong response from driver-partners with over 7,000 registrations since launch in Perth. The startup is focusing on investing in driver-partners and supporting them with new technology, training and ways to increase earnings. It adds that customers will have a high-quality ride at an affordable price with the help of these driver-partners.
“We are excited to officially start operating on the east coast with the launch in Sydney. We’ve been very pleased with how the service has been received by customers, driver-partners and the community in Perth, and can’t wait to continue building on these experiences and learnings for our second city launch,” said Chandra Nath, Vice President, Head of International, Ola in a statement.
Ola plans to roll out a number of new initiatives for both customers and driver-partners. This will include new promotions, clear ways to share feedback and a higher-quality ride for customers. And for driver-partners, Ola will add new features like earnings programs, community town-halls, fuel offers and other vehicle services alongside 24/7 support.
Ola was founded in 2011 by Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati and is one of the world’s largest ride-sharing companies. According to Crunchbase, the ride-sharing platform has raised a total of $3 billion so far with $1.1 billion funding from Japan’s SoftBank in October last year. SoftBank is also one of the key investor in Uber. Other investors in the company include Tencent Holdings, Yes Bank, Falcon Edge Capital, Sequoia Capital and Tiger Global Management.
Ola’s international expansion comes just as its major rival Uber retreats from key markets. Early this year, Uber announced plans to exit South East Asia and handover operations to Grab just like it agreed with China’s Didi in 2016. There have been speculations that Uber will concede to Ola in India as part of SoftBank’s consolidation plan but its CEO Dara Khosrowshahi indicated that India remains a key market and it continue to expand its operations here. For Ola, the startup is only getting started with its international expansion and is cautiously taking steps considering the difficulties faced by ride-sharing startups.