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India’s Ola spins out a dedicated EV business — and it just raised $56M from investors

Posted by on Mar 1, 2019 in Ankit Jain, Asia, Automotive, Bhavish Aggarwal, carsharing, Co-founder, Collaborative Consumption, Companies, didi, Didi Chuxing, DST Global, electric vehicle, Flipkart, funding, Fundings & Exits, head, India, ola cabs, Sachin Bansal, Sequoia, Softbank, SoftBank Group, Steadview Capital, temasek, Tencent, tiger global, transport, Uber, United States | 0 comments

Ola, Uber’s key rival in India, is doubling down on electric vehicles after it span out a dedicated business, which has pulled in $56 million in early funding.

The unit is named Ola Electric Mobility and it is described as being an independent business that’s backed by Ola. TechCrunch understands Ola provided founding capital, and it has now been joined by a series of investors who have pumped Rs. 400 crore ($56 million) into Ola Electric. Notably, those backers include Tiger Global and Matrix India — two firms that were early investors in Ola itself.

While automotive companies and ride-hailing services in the U.S. are focused on bringing autonomous vehicles to the streets, India — like other parts of Asia — is more challenging thanks to diverse geographies, more sparse mapping and other factors. In India, companies have instead flocked to electric. The government had previously voiced its intention to make 30 percent of vehicles electric by 2030, but it has not formally introduced a policy to guide that initiative.

Ola has taken steps to electrify its fleet — it pledged last year to add 10,000 electric rickshaws to its fleet and has conducted other pilots with the goal of offering one million EVs by 2022 — but the challenge is such that it has spun out Ola Electric to go deeper into EVs.

That means that Ola Electric won’t just be concerned with vehicles, it has a far wider remit.

The new company has pledged to focus on areas that include charging solutions, EV batteries, and developing viable infrastructure that allows commercial EVs to operate at scale, according to an announcement. In other words, the challenge of developing electric vehicles goes beyond being a ‘ride-hailing problem’ and that is why Ola Electric has been formed and is being capitalized independently of Ola.

An electric rickshaw from Ola

Its leadership is also wholly separate.

Ola Electric is led by Ola executives Anand Shah and Ankit Jain — who led Ola’s connected car platform strategy — and the team includes former executives from carmakers such as BMW.

Already, it said it has partnered with “several” OEMs and battery makers and it “intends to work closely with the automotive industry to create seamless solutions for electric vehicle operations.” Indeed, that connected car play — Ola Play — likely already gives it warm leads to chase.

“At Ola Electric, our mission is to enable sustainable mobility for everyone. India can leapfrog problems of pollution and energy security by moving to electric mobility, create millions of new jobs and economic opportunity, and lead the world,” Ola CEO and co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal said in a statement.

“The first problem to solve in electric mobility is charging: users need a dependable, convenient, and affordable replacement for the petrol pump. By making electric easy for commercial vehicles that deliver a disproportionate share of kilometers traveled, we can jumpstart the electric vehicle revolution,” added Anand Shah, whose job title is listed as head of Ola Electric Mobility.

The new business spinout comes as Ola continues to raise new capital from investors.

Last month, Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal invested $92 million into the ongoing Series J round that is likely to exceed $1 billion and would value Ola at around $6 billion. Existing backer Steadview Capital earlier committed $75 million but there’s plenty more in development.

A filing — first noted by — shows that India’s Competition Commission approved a request for a Temasek-affiliated investment vehicle’s proposed acquisition of seven percent of Ola. In addition, SoftBank offered a term sheet for a prospective $1 billion investment last month, TechCrunch understands from an industry source.

Ola is backed by the likes of SoftBank, Tencent, Sequoia India, Matrix, DST Global and Didi Chuxing. It has raised some $3.5 billion to date, according to data from Crunchbase.

Source: The Tech Crunch

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Ousted Flipkart founder Binny Bansal aims to help 10,000 Indian founders with new venture

Posted by on Feb 5, 2019 in Amazon Web Services, Asia, binny Bansal, ceo, Co-founder, Companies, computing, E-Commerce, executive, Flipkart, India, online payments, Sachin Bansal, Startup company, United States, Walmart, web services | 0 comments

Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal’s next act is aimed at helping the next generation of startup founders in India.

Bansal has already etched his name into India’s startup history after U.S. retail giant Walmart paid $16 billion to take a majority stake in its e-commerce business to expand its rivalry with Amazon. Things turned sour, however, when he resigned months after the deal’s completion due to an investigation into “serious personal misconduct.”

In 2019, 37-year-old Bansal is focused on his newest endeavor, xto10x Technologies, a startup consultancy that he founded with former colleague Saikiran Krishnamurthy. The goal is to help startup founders on a larger scale than the executive could ever do on his own.

“Person to person, I can help 10 startups but the ambition is to help 10,000 early and mid-stage entrepreneurs, not 10,” Bansal told Bloomberg in an interview.

Bansal, who started Flipkart in 2007 with Sachin Bansal (no relation) and still retains a four percent share, told Bloomberg that India-based founders are bereft of quality consultancy and software services to handle growth and company building.

“Today, software is built for large enterprises and not small startups,” he told the publication. “Think of it as solving for startups what Amazon Web Services has done for computing, helping enterprises go from zero to a thousand servers overnight with no hassle.”

“Instead of making a thousand mistakes, if we can help other startups make a hundred or even few hundred, that would be worth it,” Bansal added.

Bansal served as Flipkart’s CEO from 2007 to 2016 before becoming CEO of the Flipkart Group. He declined to go into specifics of the complaint against him at Flipkart — which reports suggest came about from a consensual relationship with a female employee — and, of the breakdown of his relationship with Sachin Bansal, he said he’s moved on to new things.

It isn’t just xto10x Technologies that is keeping him busy. Bansal is involved in investment firm 021 Capital where he is the lead backer following a $50 million injection. Neither role at the two companies involves day-to-day operations, Bloomberg reported, but, still, Bansal is seeding his money and experience to shape the Indian startup ecosystem.

Source: The Tech Crunch

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What I learned from Flipkart

Posted by on Aug 27, 2018 in Column, eCommerce, Flipkart, India, myntra, Naspers, Sachin Bansal, Walmart | 0 comments

Two weeks ago, Walmart concluded its investments to acquire a majority stake in Flipkart.

This is one of the largest transactions in e-commerce and in the internet space globally, with Walmart deploying US$16 billion to obtain an approximate 77 percent shareholding at closing. As part of this transaction, my company, Naspers, exited fully, selling our 11.18 percent stake for $2.2 billion.

In addition to the obvious financial success — a 3.6x or $1.6 billion absolute return in six years — being part of one of the greatest success stories of the Indian and global e-commerce market led to countless insights for Naspers.

Our journey with Flipkart will help us to further shape how we partner with entrepreneurs to build leading technology companies in the future.

I was fortunate enough to have had a front-row seat at Flipkart for the past six years, leading our various investment rounds and being Naspers’ appointed board director. Here are some of the key lessons that I will remember moving forward.

Pursue big market opportunities and solve big problems

E-commerce is a global trend that manifests in every market around the world. The potential of Indian e-commerce is beyond any doubt, with a total retail market of more than $500 billion. Before Flipkart, Indian e-commerce customers were repeatedly disappointed by mediocre selection, low product quality, little flexibility in payment options and a lengthy delivery experience.

Flipkart was the first player to solve these issues at scale, opening up the marketplace to more categories (starting with media and then rapidly expanding into electronics, lifestyle, etc.), offering warehouse services, and introducing its own courier network, Ekart, that ensured customer delight and cash on delivery. Other players eventually offered similar services, but Flipkart was the pioneer.

Market leadership is key to sustainable success, even in e-commerce, which tends to have “winner takes most” as opposed to “winner takes all” characteristics. Leaders enjoy attention from sellers, buyers, as well as existing and prospective employees. They continue to innovate while laggards are trying to catch up. Throughout our six-year journey with Flipkart, the company was in a market leadership position against strong competition from global and local online players.

Given the rapid growth of the Indian e-commerce market, Flipkart had to scale its tech platforms while also scaling its business model and organization. This is hard to do, and we’ve seen many businesses fail to scale. Flipkart was not one of them.

As a market leader and pioneer in the Indian e-commerce market, Flipkart had to sail unchartered waters. Experimenting while increasing in scale carried significant risk for the organization and had consequences for the market — Flipkart made many bold decisions over the years. Many of these worked out beautifully, such as acquiring Myntra in May 2014 to obtain a strong position in the strategic fashion and apparel category, or establishing Big Billion Day as the marquee sales event of the year.

There were others that did not work out, like trialing app-only shopping, but these failures never deterred the team from taking chances and changing course if needed, while always capturing the lessons. In the end, the app-only move allowed the company to become mobile-centric and a clear innovation leader in this area.

Think globally, but act locally

Flipkart is focused on the Indian market, but the competitive battle for sellers, buyers and talent is fought globally. The team adopted global best practices like Big Billion Day, which was inspired by ideas from the U.S., China and Romania.

They also measure success based on KPIs constantly drawing comparison with global market leaders. Most importantly though, Flipkart always innovated for the local market, taking local tastes into account (as serviced by the multitude of private label brands at Flipkart and Myntra), as well as bandwidth and affordability constraints on the customer side, leading to super-light mobile sites and apps, as well as various trade-in and financing programs.

Play the long game

Despite multi-billion-dollar trading volumes, the current e-commerce market in India is still mostly driven by affluent metro city dwellers in places like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. This is not dissimilar to what we’ve seen in other countries around the world at a similar development stage as e-commerce in India.

However, to really unlock the potential of Indian e-commerce, one has to reach the hundreds of millions of customers that live in tier-two or -three cities, or in the countryside.

This will require a very unique approach in terms of selection, price points and delivery and payment mechanisms. Flipkart management spends a considerable amount of time strategizing about these challenges.

The common thread in all of these lessons is that you need to have strong, inspiring leaders who come from the local market and have the vision and desire to scale their platforms responsibly and skillfully. Whether it was Binny and Sachin as co-founders of the business, or Kalyan, Ananth and Sameer in leading the respective Flipkart, Myntra and PhonePe business units, without these leaders it would have not been possible for Flipkart to grow to what it is today. I’m very grateful for my time with Flipkart and wish the team and Walmart all the best in continuing this incredible journey… a journey made in India.

Source: The Tech Crunch

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