Ola's new Australian managing director on how the company plans to beat Uber
4 July 2018, Written by David Simmons & Nick Nichols
The ride-sharing market in Australia is predominately dominated by Uber, but that's set to change if Simon Smith (pictured), the new Australian managing director of Ola, has his way.
Ola, an India based ride-sharing company, which launched in Australia in January, is hoping to take on Uber and Taxify the two major players in the Australian ride-share sector.
Since its launch, Ola has expanded to Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Canberra, Brisbane and the Gold Coast, and has over 40,000 driver partners registered on the platform.
With today's announcement of Smith taking on the reigns of Ola's Australian business the company is set to expand even more.
Smith is no stranger to managing new tech companies. Previously, Smith was the CEO of eBay Australia, a non-executive director at Sportsbet, the VP of virtual offices as Servcorp and a consultant at McKinsey and Company.
Business News Australia spoke to Smith about his plans to get a handle on the Australian ride-share market.
You are up against a brand goliath in Uber, so what is your strategy to bring Ola front of mind as a ride share alternative?
Ola is a community-oriented transportation platform that's driver focussed. We are finding Australian customers deeply care whether drivers are getting a fair deal and are choosing Ola because of that. Driver-partners are earning more through lower commissions and customers benefit from lower tariffs than other platforms. By enabling driver-partners to provide the best experience possible, customers in turn enjoy high-quality journeys.
Is there room for a second major player in the market?
Australia is an attractive market in that it values fair competition and we think both customers and drivers have had limited options to choose between. We've been pleasantly surprised by the response and adoption of our solution by both customers and drivers, which in many ways has exceeded our expectations. Drivers are clearly responding to having a viable ride-share platform that offers higher earnings and customers have been rapidly adopting the platform as we continue to build scale.
Why did you take on this role?
I was interested in leading a business that is community-oriented, growing quickly, has technology at the heart and a 'data for good' approach where data is used to solve problems at the core of society. Ola provides all of those in spades!
What skills do you bring from eBay?
Like eBay, Ola is a marketplace. It is important both to focus on demand-and-supply metrics and to keep front of mind the everyday experience of our consumers and entrepreneur service providers.
What do you see as the major challenges ahead for Ola?
Ola is exploring opportunities with local governments and communities around Australia, to invest in smarter transport infrastructure and unlock the unique mobility needs of Australians to build high-quality rides, with affordable prices and enjoyable experiences.
What are the advantages of being the new kid on the block?
We like to view ourselves as the disruptors of Australian ridesharing, by offering the lowest commission rate in the country of 7.5%, giving driver-partners higher earnings and in turn creating happier riders. We're also focused on community initiatives like town hall-style meetings with our driver-partners and other unique initiatives, which has seen word spreading among the industry that we're a better transportation platform.
Business News Australia
Author: David Simmons & Nick Nichols