Former Vodafone Global chief executive officer Arun Sarin joined Ola Cabs as an independent director, the second top Indian business leader to back the Bengaluru start-up in July, a week after Tata Sons chairman emeritus Ratan Tata invested in the company.
“Ola is solving real transportation problems here in India using technology, innovative business models, entrepreneurship with drivers,” said Sarin in a video broadcast hosted on Ola’s blog. “It just all comes together, terrific service for customers so that they can have affordable transportation and yet provide jobs for hundreds of thousands of drivers in India”.
Sarin, the first Indian to be the global chief executive of Vodafone from 2003 to 2008, drove the British telecom firm’s expansion in emerging markets such as India, Turkey and Africa. Last week, Ola said Tata took a minority stake in the company, but did not disclose the value.
The backing of two of India’s most prominent business leaders would help Ola get strategic advice to battle rival Uber in the country. Ola, which has adopted the asset light aggregator model of Uber in India, has presence in 100 cities with about 200,000 vehicles. Uber last week said it has presence in 18 cities in the country.
“Arun is a globally respected business icon. His experience in management and in growing large businesses is invaluable to us. His mentorship and guidance will help us in further driving growth for Ola,” the firm said on its blog on Tuesday. He not only brings global perspective, but also very deep understanding of emerging markets like India. The Vodafone brand under his leadership was serving over 300 million customers globally.
Ola has raised nearly $800 million from investors, including Japanese investment firm Softbank. The firm claims to be the largest aggregator of point-to-point and rental cabs in India. Last year, it acquired local rival Taxi4Sure for Rs 1,250 crore and expanding its reach.
“I’ve been closely interacting with Arun for a few months now and I have immensely benefitted from his mentorship,” Ola Cabs founder Bhavish Aggarwal said in the blog. “Look forward to working with him, learning from his experience and building mobility for a billion Indians.”