After Zomato and Practo, Ola is the next unicorn that is said to be closely eyeing an international foray. Already, present in over 110 cities across the country, Ola is believed to be closely looking at Sri Lanka and Bangladesh for a launch, and is now also looking at New Zealand and Australia.
It is believed that Ola's investor and the Chinese cab-hailing giant, Didi Chuxing, wants the company to capture a larger global market than just India. Ola is said to be looking closely at different Asian and African countries as well.
Interesting, Uber, Ola's biggest rival in India, already has a strong presence in Australia, and apart from Uber, Ola will also have to compete with local players like GoCatch in Australia. Ola might also have to break Uber's monopoly in some cities of Australia and New Zealand. Uber also has a strong presence in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh for over two years now.
Reports suggest that Ola had seriously considered London as a market. However, the expenses involved deferred the plans, this despite Bhavish Aggarwal, Ola's co-founder and CEO, having even spoken to Mayor of London. Interestingly, when Uber started operations in London, the San Francisco-based giant had to face several regulatory challenges. When asked to comment an Ola spokesperson said: "We don't react to references made in speculative news report."
Government regulations and local taxi unions across different countries have always been a challenge for Uber. The company had started its operations in Australia in 2015, and a Deloitte study points out that in 12 months, the cab aggregator had facilitated close to 10 million rides, and of these 1.2 million rides were in August alone in the cities of Sydney, Perth, and Brisbane.
Uber continues to fight a tough regulatory battle, not just in India, but across the globe. The company lost in China and combined its business with Didi. It also merged with Russian local cab aggregator Yandex. The San-Francisco company also lost its license in London. Needless to say, every city and country has different regulations, which Uber already is dealing with.
When Ola enters these markets, apart from its ongoing regulatory issues in India, the Bengaluru-based unicorn will also have to understand and fight similar battles in Australia and New Zealand. It will have to do so while bleeding cash, as it is important that it acquires the right number of customers to scale.
On home ground, Ola is believed to have a larger market share than Uber. It will be interesting to see how Ola will tackle a battle with Uber on a global front. Especially now that both will have the same investor - SoftBank - on board.