Most recently, I worked as one of three Chief Operating Officers and VP-Product & Design at Ola Cabs, one of the world’s largest rideshare companies, valued at ~$7-billion.
Driving Ola’s expansion from ride sharing to new mobility, I established Ola Innovation Lab. We nurtured various research projects for near-term commercial use and longer-term strategic purposes. To improve the ride experience, we launched Ola AutoConnect and Ola Play.
The Lab grew from a three-member to a strong team of 100+. Apple, Qualcomm, Mahindra, and Microsoft joined as strategic partners.
We built AutoConnect-WiFi using just the driver’s phone as the router for thousands of cabs in multiple cities. The entire experience was built under government’s key initiative Digital India and by 2017, this feature covered over half a million vehicles including 3-wheeler auto-rickshaws.
As a next step, we enabled in-car IoT, designed and built consumer and driver experience consoles - connected to cloud; and launched as a platform called Ola Play. In a short span of time, Ola Play has transformed the in-car experience for millions of Indians. With a range of connected experiences that the customers can seamlessly control through their smartphones and tablets, Ola Play has made commutes more productive and enjoyable. With advanced telematics, infotainment, productivity tools and intelligent cloud integrations we built the future of connected vehicles. Soon, Apple Music, Sony, BookMyShow, Microsoft etc., joined the platform as partners.
“Today’s car is quickly becoming the ultimate computing device and together with Ola, we’re focused on providing more intelligent, connected and productive experiences to our customers. The combination of Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and our AI platform with Ola Play will deliver new customer experiences and business opportunities across the automotive ecosystem.” - Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft
Ola Play brought a massive impact not only to the ride-sharing industry but also across the global automotive ecosystem. At Ola, this was a radical strategic shift from aggregating gas-powered vehicles to connecting green technology-packed vehicles. Now, with this innovation, the company is expanding to cover a larger global new-mobility ecosystem. By 2030, mobility services are expected to help grow global automotive revenues 50-fold to total $1.5-trillion. Tencent and Softbank invested over $1-billion in 2017 taking Ola’s valuation over $7-billion.