Uber’s main rival in India has unsolicited advice for the American startup: Go local.
“They have a very simple approach in terms of model and [to] force feed it in any geography, ”said Pranay Jivrajka, senior executive at Ola Cabs, on the sidelines of CNN’s Asia Business Forum in Bangalore.
Jivrajka, who was until recently COO of Ola, said Uber should abandon its one-size-fits-all approach and instead try to understand the “local nuances” that would help it identify the services that “users and drivers actually want “.
Uber declined to comment on Jivrajka’s comments.
Uber and Ola have fought for years a bitter battle for supremacy in India, a market with 1.3 billion potential customers. The country has grown in importance for Uber after a series of recent setbacks elsewhere in Asia.
The San Francisco-based company suspended operations in Taiwan last week, six months after selling its China business to local rival Didi Chuxing. Didi, who is battling Uber in major foreign markets, is one of Ola’s investors.
In India, Uber often found itself catching up with its Bangalore-based rival. Its most recent local product offering – allowing Indian users to book a car for an entire day – is already offered by Ola in 85 cities.
Ola also allows users to book one of India’s ubiquitous three-wheeled auto rickshaws, a service Uber started but discontinued in 2015.
“What has helped us is to listen to understand what users want,” Jivrajka said.
Related: Uber’s Rivals Team Up In Asia
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick insists his company is not ready to leave India.
“We are losing, but we see a path to profitability,” Kalanick said during a December visit to Delhi. “We see ourselves being here for the long haul.”
Related: Uber Suspends Service To Taiwan As Fines Rise
India isn’t always a straightforward market for either company – tens of thousands of drivers representing both Uber and Ola went on strike in Delhi this week, demanding better wages and benefits social. The Delhi government has offered to mediate the dispute.
Jivrajka did not comment on the protests, but said Ola’s main goal remains to bring more drivers to her platform.
“We need more drivers because the rate at which demand is increasing is much higher than the way supply is aggregating,” he said.
Related: Uber CEO Steps Down From Trump’s Business Advisory Board
Jivrajka also gave some advice to another Silicon Valley giant looking to enter India: electric car maker Tesla.
“There are no rules on Indian roads,” Jivrajka said. “One thing a lot of people say is if you can drive in India you can drive anywhere.”
– Manveena Suri contributed reporting
CNNMoney (Bangalore, India) First published February 13, 2017: 8:48 a.m. ET