Skip to main content

The Explosion of Ola

I've been using taxis and autos quite a bit lately for my commuting and something I've noticed is a sudden proliferation of Ola autos. Every second or third auto on the streets seems to have an Ola-issue mobile phone and stand. Yesterday, I was in an Ola auto - I hadn't booked using the app or anything, the auto I climbed into just happened to work with Ola - and I started chatting with the driver. A couple of weeks ago, I spoke to an Ola taxi guy about the company. Here's what I've pieced together/guessed about the Ola business model from these two conversations.

The first thing I learned was that the cabbies and auto drivers have to pay to join the ranks of Ola drivers. This actually came as something of a surprise to me - I always figured Ola just had extremely deep pockets and hired lots of drivers. The driver pays Ola for the mobile phone, phone stand and a couple of additions to his auto/cab. All the Ola-branded cars you see going around must be paid for separately, once again by the cab driver. 

These Ola phones come completely loaded - they have the Ola app and a data connection pre-installed. However, the driver can't use the phone for anything other than Ola business - if he does, the Ola office immediately locks the phone, and the driver can only have it unlocked on payment of a fine (I keep imagining a nameless, faceless employee grinning malevolently as he locks some poor cabby or auto driver's phone because he tried to do a Google search, but it's probably all computerized now anyway). 

When you push the button on the app requesting a cab, you see a clock on screen. The Ola driver hears a klaxon and sees a message asking him whether or not he wants to pick up a certain fare. The driver's mission (should he choose to accept it) is to call the pick-upee and figure out where exactly they need to be picked up from and then deliver them to their destination. 

The Ola driver does not know whether you will pay in cash or via Ola money until the destination is reached. If you do pay via Ola money, the phone will display a fare of ₹0. Otherwise, the driver will know not to allow the customer to exit the car and escape at a rate of m.p.h until the amount has been payed in full.

Despite their numerous complaints about the stench of alcohol coming off nearly every customer they pick up after about 6 p.m on Saturdays and the long distances they have to drive, the Ola drivers have it pretty good. For every ₹20 you pay, the company pays ₹30. Ola pays more than it's drivers earn by taking from the venture capitalists and giving to the drivers - rather like a corporate Robin Hood. The best Ola drivers make up to ₹90,000 or so per month, which is, I think, not bad at all.


Popular posts from this blog

Are We There Yet?

I've always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with travel. I love the idea of going to new places, meeting new people, seeing new cultures and all that fun stuff. What I don't like about travelling is the actual getting-from-place-to-place part of it. The countless hours spent sitting in trains and buses and planes and cars, the mindless tedium of endless highway zipping by, that's the part of travelling I don't like.

I had this driven home to me last week when we were coming back from Chennai. We had spent a couple of days there and Mom had booked us on a train at half past five in the evening. The ride from Chennai to Bangalore takes around five hours by train. Let me repeat that: five long, boring hours of sitting on a train.

Normally, I'd be completely OK with this - I'd have my phone and my headphones with me. I'd plug my ears as soon as we were on board the train and ignore the existence of everyone else for most of the trip. This time, though, I …

Drumming Up a Following

After several years of putting it off and/or being unable to do so for a variety of reasons, I've finally taken up learning an instrument - or, more specifically, the drums. Guitar seemed a little too common an instrument and keyboard was never really my thing, so drums seemed the best choice. Which is why now I sit pondering my next sentence whilst whacking my drumsticks on my bed rather than thoughtfully scratching my chin.

Most of my friends have learned to play some instrument at some point or the other, and most of them stuck with it for long enough to still remember how to play at least something on it even now. I, however, spent my younger years coding or cooking or... well, something that was quite patently not music, anyway. Oh, my parents spent more than their fair share of money on music classes. I just never really had an interest in them growing up. I have spent countless hours, at ages seven and below, at music classes attempting to learn to play the keyboard or the …

Talking Trouble

I want to begin this post by saying that I don't volunteer to speak. I'm not one of those guys who's always MCing this or giving a speech about that. I speak in public only if I have no other choice, and those situations come by rarely enough that I've had very little experience actually being on stage and talking.

Last week, though, I was at an NCC camp, and the PI (Permanent Instructor, for you non-NCC folk) staff decided that I should host an event on account of I spoke decent English. Normally, I would refuse, but in the NCC, if they ask you to jump over a cliff, you need to have been over that cliff five minutes ago. You don't get to ask why you're jumping off of a cliff, you just jump. So it was that three days into the camp, I found myself on stage with a co-MC I didn't really know, in a uniform that I had lost the knack of wearing and holding a mic that caught, oh, about 50% of the words you spoke into it.

At first, I was incredibly nervous. The pre…