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Olacabs rolls out on-demand auto rickshaw hiring service in Delhi NCR

VCCircle_OlacabsWithin a month of foraying into the auto booking space, online cab hiring service Olacabs, run by Mumbai-based ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd, has now rolled out an on-demand auto rickshaw hiring service in Delhi NCR region. The company already offers similar services in cities like Pune, Chennai and Bangalore.

According to the company, the auto rickshaw booking facility is available only through the Ola mobile app on Android and iOS platforms. Commuters will need to pay by meter as per government mandated fares. In addition, they will also need to pay a booking charge of Rs 10 (not part of the meter fare) to the driver. Note that payments can only be made via cash, and Ola Money cannot be used to pay for the ride.

Autos are available for immediate bookings only. Hence, you should ideally look for an auto 10 minutes before you need a ride. Also, the company currently does not provide billing or invoicing for auto bookings. However, tracking features of the app work on autos too.

"We decided to give Delhi's autos a tech upgrade! Now get an auto right from the Ola app, without having to step out to find one. No haggling, no negotiation, and no hassles. Pay by meter as per government mandated fares, in cash," read a message on the company's website.

Ola In this vertical, Ola will compete with mGaadi, a mobile-based auto rickshaw booking service in Bangalore. mGaadi, which is run by Bangalore-based India Drivers Network Services Pvt Ltd, recently secured an undisclosed amount in seed funding from Unitus Seed Fund.

Earlier this week, Olacabs had launched a 'pink cabs' service exclusively for women passengers. These cabs are driven by women drivers and will only allow female passengers to board them. The service is currently available in Bangalore.

Olacabs was founded in January 2011 by IIT Bombay alumni Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati. The firm recently raised $210 million from Japanese internet and telecom giant SoftBank. Previously, it raised Rs 250 crore ($41.8 million) in its Series C round of funding led by Hong Kong-based equity hedge fund Steadview Capital and Silicon Valley-based Sequoia Capital. Existing investors Matrix Partners India and Tiger Global Management also participated in this round.

In November last year, Olacabs had raised its Series B round of funding led by Matrix Partners India for a big minority stake, with participation from existing investor Tiger Global Management. Although the company had not disclosed the amount at the time, media reports pegged it at $20 million. Prior to that, it had raised Rs 19.2 crore ($3.2 million) from existing investor Tiger Global in July the same year, which was believed to be part of the same round.

Back in 2012, the company had raised over $5 million in its Series A funding from Tiger Global. Prior to that, it had raised angel funding from a bunch of individual investors, including Rehan Yar Khan and Anupam Mittal.

In the cab booking segment, Ola is mainly competing with Google Ventures-backed Uber, which came into India last October, and domestic players such as TaxiForSure (backed by Accel Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners), Savaari, taxiGUIDE and Cabs24X7. While on the one hand, they have been slowly giving an organised face to the highly fragmented market for taxis in the country, the rush of cash among the peer group and the race to break out of the pack have now forced the top bracket players to get into a price war. Industry experts say the discounts and cut throat pricing are sinking firms deeper into losses. Given the massive price war among these firms, Ola's entry into auto rickshaw service makes sense.

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