Ola’s Australia’s launch has impressed not only the ride-hailing startup community, but also fellow entrepreneurs from across India and the world.
Startups founders from across industries have congratulated Ola for launching its services in Australia, in what will become its first overseas market. Yesterday, Ola had announced that it was opening up sign ups from drivers in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, and would launch its services in the coming months. While there had been rumours that Ola was eyeing foreign markets — unconfirmed reports had earlier said that Ola was looking at launching in Sri Lanka, and even Bangladesh — Ola’s Australia entry was warmly greeted by Indian entrepreneurs.
“Congrats Bhavish! Way to go. This is super cool,” wrote Paytm CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma. “Indeed a proud moment for every Indian,” said Commonfloor cofounder Sumit Jain. “Aussie! Salam,” tweeted GoQii founder Vishal Gondal. FreeCharge co-founder Kunal Shah and Flipkart cofounder Sachin also shared the news.
Congratulations Bhavish! Way to go. This is super cool.
— Vijay Shekhar (@vijayshekhar) January 30, 2018
The move impressed Venture Capitalists too, and even ones who weren’t necessarily investors in Ola. “Glad to see with what Bhavish and Ankit started 8 years ago, from a small room, they now feel confident to take to 1st world markets. A momentous day for the Indian startup eco system,” tweeted Orios VP Managing Partner Rehan Yar Khan.
Foreign founders also lauded the move. “Congrats!,” tweeted One Plus cofounder Carl Pei. “Great news and milestone! Congrats Bhavish,” said Truecaller founder Alan Mamedi.
And politicians were also impressed. “Congrats Bhavish!,” wrote former Telecom Minister Milind Deora.
Congrats Bhavish ???
— Milind Deora (@milinddeora) January 30, 2018
India’s startup community usually sticks together and celebrates each others’ successes, but news of Ola’s Australia move was particularly sweet. India has produced as many as 10 unicorn startups, but they’ve largely confined their operations to India. A few companies have made baby steps to venture abroad — Paytm now runs its operations in Canada, and Practo has a presence in Brazil. Oyo Rooms has tried expanding to Nepal and Malaysia, and Redbus has tried moving to some south-east Asian countries. Zomato, of course, has acquired startups across the world, including Urbanspoon in the US.
But this might be the first instance of an Indian startup moving to a competitive, first world market, where a well-funded competitor already has a large presence. The move is also notable because unlike with internet startups, Ola will need feet-on-the-ground when it moves into Australia — it will have teams that will on-board drivers, and respond to customer complaints. This is something that hasn’t been attempted at scale by an Indian startup previously in foreign shores, and Ola’s move could pave the way for future companies to expand to other markets.
And it would be about time. Indian companies have done well to build successful products in India, but they haven’t been able to take their products abroad as well as they’d have liked. Even small countries have produced global household names — Sweden has a population comparable to Bangalore, but has produced international startups like Spotify and Truecaller; Estonia, which has a population equal to Koramangla, has managed to produce a global giant like Skype. Indian startups have lots of catching up to do to create global brands, but everyone in the ecosystem seems to be hoping that Ola’s Australia move will pave the way for many more.