Ola Cabs, India’s largest rideshare app company, is taking a page out of Uber Technologies Inc.’s playbook, offering food delivery in four of the country’s largest cities in a service called OlaCafe. The move is similar to the UberFresh service the San Francisco-based Uber started in August. Whereas Uber promised 10-minute deliveries, Ola in India is shooting for 15 minutes tops, a tough task, given the chaotic traffic conditions in any of India’s metros.
The Indian startup, which counts SoftBank Corp. as an investor, is piloting the service in India’s capital city, Delhi, the country’s financial hub, Mumbai, and two southern Indian technology, hubs Bangalore and Hyderabad, Ola said in a blogpost Monday.
Ola is looking to consolidate its lead in India, where it has some 100,000 cabs on its network across 85 cities, ahead of a push by Uber. The company is said to be in talks to raise $500 million from Russian billionaire Uri Milner’s DST Global, which is also an investor in another Asian rival to Uber, KuaiDi Dache in China.
Attracting good drivers and retaining them is one of the biggest challenges rideshare companies face in markets such as India. Ola claims to be adding 1,000 drivers a day to its network. The company recently arranged with India’s largest bank to offer easier car loans to drivers to make micro entrepreneurs out of them.
Ola also announced Monday it would be investing in various tie ups to bring benefits including discounted car servicing rates, cash-back schemes from gasoline companies and health insurance for drivers on its network.
For people who use Ola’s mobile app to book cabs, on offer now will be lunch delivery from 12 noon to 3 p.m., snacks, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., and dinner, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. They will have to select from available fare on an Ola-curated menu from popular restaurants in various localities with three to four options for each meal at three price points: 99 rupees (about $1.50), 199 rupees and 299 rupees.
“Imagine getting food from Spaghetti Kitchen, Cafe Coffee Day, Mainland China, etc. at the click of a button from the same Ola app,” Bhavish Aggarwal, Ola’s founder wrote in the blog.