Organizing the Un-Organized – OLA AUTO

A couple of years ago, I was naive to think that the auto (three wheeler travel vehicle in India – used similar to a taxi at a lower rate for passengers) would be non-existent in a few years and the drivers would move on. I was wondering why the drivers who are adept at driving autos are not moving to driving cars as it would be a natural progression.  The problems for autos were plenty:

  • The prices were not regulated.
  • When you talk to a driver, you never know if he would accept your request based on your destination.
  • If the destination is a fit, price does not match and there is a 3 minute bargain with the diver while the fuel in the auto gets wasted.
  • Once you accept the ride and get in, when the auto nears the destination the driver is upset that the location is far than what he had originally assumed.

The state tried its best at times to regulate the auto fares and sometimes they ignored for various reasons. The driver’s were not to be blamed because of the overhead costs they would have to pay when driving. Things were just not working out and it was a never ending story.


OLA made an announcement that it will expand its reach to the autos in Chennai. My immediate reaction was that the system would fail. It is a herculean task to get the auto-drivers organized unlike the cabs. I heard about OLA AUTO in Chennai from my mom and every time I would walk down the street to get an auto, she would ask me to use OLA.

I installed OLA App on my phone and requested an auto through the app. I was immediately able to call the driver / vice versa to confirm directions. The maps was accurate as it picked my exact address. I had my first OLA Auto ride, a week ago.  The driver was very happy and all I had to pay was Rs. 10 over the meter price. No bargaining, no destination checks, no complaints from driver / and more. This was exciting. On regular chats with the drivers:

  • They are very happy about the service.
  • More autos are getting registered with OLA.
  • No complaints about what they make every day. They understand and fall in line.
  • If it goes this way, they will have a decent living.

I also met a driver who works full-time as a Car driver in a household and drives an auto (via) OLA for a few hours in the night. It makes perfect sense as the booking app helps find him customers.

This is a great example of big ticket Entrepreneurship. Solve problems and grow your business. Your country adapts to your entrepreneurship dreams and you not only create a business, more importantly you make livelihood easier for other people in your country.

Dream Big – If one were to think about working with thousands of drivers in the un-organized sector, it is difficult even today, however this is where the opportunity is. You do not depend on the Government for everything and the State looks up to you for assistance for solving their problems. Better economy, better lives and better opportunities.

Thank you OLA! This could very well be your honeymoon period, so keep innovating!  We love you and also learn from you on how to adapt one’s business to the location being served in, solve problems and scale.

Google Adwords – Is it like playing a casino slot machine game?

DCKAP has been an early adopter and user of Google Adwords. We have got great customers using adwords. Thanks Google. However, it looks like distant past today. Our spending with google has doubled(or even tripled), however the lead inflow has reduced by half. I see a few problems.

Competition: Most of your competition is on Ad-words. Around mid 2007,there were not a lot of companies bidding for key-words. It was fun as the return on investment was great. It is concerning today as the response rate is bad.
Expensive bid rates: The bid rates are expensive. A few targeted keywords which used to cost $3 is costing $30 or more now.
Evil Clicks: Considering the high spending and low lead flow, this cannot be ruled out. Your competition clicking on your ads and you pay for it.
Extraneous Clicks: A fine example. You advertise for game developers, a school kid uses his mobile device (ipad) searches for one of your advertised keywords and clicks on your ad.

Is Google Adwords now like playing a slot machine in a casino? You keep throwing quarters, wait for the winning combination. You keep paying for clicks, and pray a qualified lead will react to your ad and does your preferred action. (Call / Click Request Quote button)

Slot Machine

Few Adwords tips
Negative Keywords: Make sure you use negative keywords. Track the clicks on a daily/ weekly basis and make sure you add the negative keywords to each campaign. You can do this globally and apply to all campaigns under the shared library tab.
Keyword Match: Differentiate between Broad, Phrase and Exact match, use them efficiently. If you are getting high extraneous clicks, try using Phrase / Exact match and watch the campaign.
Location: Set your locations on where you want your campaigns to run. If you are targeting customers in US, you do not want folks from Indonesia to click on your ad. You can do this under the Settings tab.
Search Terms: Find out what search terms triggered your ad . This will help in analytics and also choosing your keywords. You can do this by choosing Details – Search Terms (All) under the keywords tab.
Conversion Tracking: This is basic, however often times people miss it. Make sure you have the google conversion tracking code in the page the customers see after they complete a conversion (e.g Thank you page) to track the lead conversions.

With the advent of social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN) and low response to adwords, you also have to explore new avenues for advertising/marketing all the time. Spread your marketing budget, experiment and invest more on areas you have maximum returns. Always remember, content is king.