India's billion dollar unicorn Ola now has the backing of Ratan Tata


Taxi-hailing app company, Ola today announced that Ratan Tata, Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons, has invested in the company in his personal capacity. The amount and the nature of funding remains undisclosed. With this investment, Ratan Tata has expanded his investment portfolio to include many of India's darling upstarts that includes Snapdeal, Paytm, UrbanLadder, Bluestone and CarDekho. One of the most respected business leaders worldwide, Tata also backed Chinese company Xiaomi in April, earlier this year.

Ola is currently operational in over a 100 cities across India and claims to have 150,000 vehicles registered on its platform. Through Ola’s mobile app, customers can book cabs, autos and taxis. In March earlier this year it acquired rival TaxiForSure, India’s second largest cab aggregator. In pursuit of becoming the go-to on-demand platform, Ola has expanded beyond transportation into instant food delivery with OlaCafé, currently available in beta across four cities. Last month YourStory also exclusively reported Ola's foray into groceries with its standalone app Ola Store.

Speaking about the investment, Bhavish Aggarwal, CEO and Co-founder, Ola said, "It is our honor to have Mr. Ratan Tata onboard as an investor. This is a huge endorsement from one of the most respected business leaders of our times and reflects Ola’s commitment towards the future of mobility in India. We look forward to learning from Mr. Tata’s experience that will help us build a world class organization from India.”

Tata on the highway with startups

Ratan Tata has been taking keen interest in the startup ecosystem and has made several investments in the last one year. Perhaps what he said at a recent industry conference defines his outlook towards startups. "We have to give these young entrepreneurs a chance to prove themselves, shoulder to shoulder, with traditional business."

The patriarch of the Tata empire, Ratan Tata, has his heart set on Indian e-commerce. Before stepping down as the Chairman of the Tata Group in 2012, Ratan Tata had already setup RNT Associates which is his vehicle to make investments in startups. Setting the groundwork, he made the first investment announcement with Snapdeal in August 2014. This was followed by an investment in BlueStone in September and then UrbanLadder in November.

With e-commerce marketplace, jewellery and furniture covered via the three investments in 2014, this year, Ratan Tata invested in auto classifieds site, CarDekho, which was followed by investments in Paytm and Xiaomi. Many growth stage e-commerce companies are now pursuing Ratan Tata to woo him onboard and increase their chances of survival as the consolidation game gets stronger.

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