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.

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