Bhavish Aggarwal is an Indian entrepreneur who is the co-founder and CEO of the ridesharing company Ola Cabs which he had founded with his friend Ankit Bhati in December 2010. Ola boasts of over 1.5 million driver partners and is operational across 250 plus cities globally including India, the UK, Australia and New Zealand. The company, which is valued at about $10 billion and is backed by several venture capitalists such as SoftBank Group Corp. and Sequoia Capital, offers over a dozen services that include peer-to-peer ridesharing in luxury or regular cars, auto-rickshaws, bikes, taxis and food delivery. An IIT graduate, Bhavish Aggarwal worked at Microsoft Research India for two years prior to establishing his own company. He received the 'Innovation in Transportation Award' from Frost and Sullivan in 2014. In 2015, Ola was named 'Startup of the Year' by 'The Economic Times' and received the 'Leadership Award for Outstanding Startup' from 'Forbes India'. He was listed among '30 under 30′ by 'Hindustan Times' and 'Forbes', and was named 'Entrepreneur of the Year' by 'The Economic Times'.
Rise to Stardom
Bhavish Aggarwal's journey to establish a ride-sharing company started with an unfortunate experience with a car he had rented for a weekend trip from Bengaluru to Bandipur with friends. The driver of the car stopped in Mysore and demanded more money than initially agreed upon, forcing the group to complete the journey by bus instead. At the time, he was a 23-year-old who had left his job in the research division of Microsoft to do something more.
He decided to establish a car rental company with great customer experience and economical prices. He teamed up with Ankit Bhati, another IITian from Jodhpur, and set up the website Olatrips.com on December 3, 2010, as an online cab aggregator in Mumbai to book cars for outstation trips. They did not have much working capital and without any investor to back them, they had to make do with their "shoestrings savings". By 2012, they were offering on-demand rides to customers via phone calls. Soon after they launched the Smartphone app, they received a $5 million investment from Tiger Global Management. Even though he had no prior business experience, he managed to secure funding from Rehan Yar Khar, Anupam Mittal, and Snapdeal's Kunal Bahl. The company was two years old when it received additional funding from Silicon Valley’s Sequoia Capital and Japan’s SoftBank, which helped it command 60% of the market share in India by 2014 with over 15 lakh bookings per day. The company extended its operations overseas starting with Australia in January 2018, followed by New Zealand in September that year and the UK in March 2019.
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While still studying at IIT Bombay, Bhavish Aggarwal served as a research intern at Microsoft Research India for three months in 2007. Following graduation, he joined Microsoft as Assistant Researcher in July 2008. He worked in that position for just over two years; during this period he had filed two patents and published three papers in international academic journals. At one point, he also ran his own blog at desitech.in which hosted content about startups and technologies focused primarily on India.
Family & Personal Life
Bhavish Aggarwal was born on August 28, 1985, in Ludhiana, Punjab, India, to doctor parents. He was raised partly in Afghanistan and in the UK. After failing to crack the IIT entrance exam in the first try, he prepared at a coaching center in Kota, Rajasthan, for a year and ranked 23. He entered the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay in 2004 and obtained his B. Tech degree in Computer Science and Engineering in 2008. While his parents were doubtful about his choice to open a 'travel agency' with an IIT degree, they did not stop him from experimenting.
In 2007, Bhavish Aggarwal began dating his Tamilian girlfriend Rajalakshmi, a marketing manager who worked as an analyst at Ernst and Young. They got engaged in June 2013 and tied the knot in early 2014. She supported him when he was broke, and he even borrowed her car a few times to pick up clients. She likes to manage their relationship with her good planning skills; because Bhavish is always busy, she makes sure to "personally put down our scheduled date nights, treks and quality time for our pets" on his calendar. Nevertheless, it took him three years to convince his then-girlfriend to use Ola.
On the other hand, his parents learned about the success of his company when their driver left the job and registered with Ola, buying his own car, after it began operations in Ludhiana. Bhavish Aggarwal told Bloomberg that his mother, initially upset, now "feels liberated" that she can "summon a car" as needed. He resides in Bengaluru with his family.