Online cab booking service Ola (formerly Olacabs) has roped in former Lazada Indonesia managing director Sundeep Sahni as its vice president of new initiatives.
Sahni will be part of Ola’s core leadership team, the company said in a press statement.
Lazada is one of South East Asia’s biggest e-commerce company backed by players like Rocket Internet and Temasek Holdings. It is one of several ventures incubated by German internet giant Rocket Internet that seeks to replicate an established internet business model in the developed market in emerging countries. Lazada operates country specific e-commerce sites across South East Asia selling electronics, fashion items etc.
“Sundeep brings with him a unique experience of setting up an e-commerce venture from scratch in a new country. His intuitive knowledge and experience of startups having been on both operational and investment sides in his past roles will be valuable for us. Sundeep’s understanding of the industry, his experience of striking key partnerships and building a formidable network will be critical in our mission to build mobility for a billion people,” Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder and CEO of Ola said.
Before Lazada, Sahni was with Watheeqa Capital Company, an Egyptian private equity firm focusing on MENA (Middle East & North Africa) region with a corpus of $400 million. He also worked with Credit Suisse in New York and London.
Sahni has done his MBA programme from INSEAD France/Singapore. Prior to that, he graduated from Boston College USA, holding a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Computer Science. He is also a Certified Financial Analyst (CFA).
His entry comes at a time when Ola is trying to diversify its business presence beyond just cabs. It recently expanded to add home delivery of food from restaurants and is also tipped to start local delivery of groceries.
Founded in January 2011 by IIT Bombay alumni Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati, Ola provides point-to-point services within the city, hour-based rental services and bookings for outstation travel. Ola, which competes with San Francisco-based Uber for India’s burgeoning ride aggregation space, has a network of over 70,000 cabs and more than 30,000 autos.
It recently strengthened its network by an additional 15,000 cabs following the $200 million acquisition of smaller rival TaxiForSure, run by Bangalore-based Serendipity Infolabs.
In March, Ola had raised $400 million from Russian investor DST Global and others. Ola is now present in about 100 cities; it plans to cover 200 cities by the year-end. Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of Tata Sons, recently made a personal investment in Ola.
Earlier this month, the taxi aggregator had named former Vodafone Group CEO Arun Sarin as an independent director.