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BW Businessworld

Serving The Underserved

Ola’s leadership had said that the financial services space in India was significantly underserved due to weak distribution, low trust, and complicated products.

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OLA

Varun Dubey received quite the sunshine sector mandate when he was named head of marketing at Ola Financial Services in December 2019. Having been the vice president and marketing and head of monetisation at Practo for five years prior to joining Ola, Dubey came with the right credentials. However, soon after he stepped into his new role, India was faced with an unprecedent crisis.

For Ola Financial Services the year continued to be growth year. The company raised more than Rs 200 crore from Matrix Partners and Falcon Edge as it looked to grow its financial services business this year apart from the cab-booking business. Ola had launched wallet app Ola Money in 2015 for payments, recharges, money transfers, and other services. It subsequently moved the financial services arm out of the parent entity ANI Technologies to expand its offerings beyond the core business of transportation.

Pushing The Underserved

In 2020, Ola’s focus on its financial services was seen evidently in its focused marketing efforts. At the time, Ola’s leadership had said that the financial services space in India was significantly underserved due to weak distribution, low trust, and complicated products. Ola saw the reach and capabilities of its core ridesharing platform as an opportunity to address this. Ola bet pushing its financial services amid Covid times as the “need for product innovations in this space is even more relevant”.

Part of Dubey’s role in the year was delivering on this mandate from the company, for its future readiness. The other area keeping him extremely busy in the year was Ola’s aggressive plans for its electric vehicles (EVs). Buoyed by the Prime Minister’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat call, Ola set up a facility with a capacity to manufacture 10 million two-wheeler EVs in a market of one lakh at this point of time. Ola dubbed this facility as its ‘Future Factor’.

The Future Factor

Ola Electric signed a memorandum of understanding with the Government of Tamil Nadu for ban investment of Rs 2,400 crore to set up one of the world’s largest scooter factories in the state. This is also the company’s first factory in Tamil Nadu. Ola officials explained that this is going to be the world’s largest two- wheeler factory not just in EVs but all across. It will have 15 per cent of the world’s production capacity in this single factory and it is going to be a fully integrated plant.

Resulting from this, Ola Electric will cater to customers not only in India, but markets around the world, including the likes of Asia, Europe and more. As the company gears for the first of its range of its electric scooters, the role of marketing will become more pronounced in connecting with its relevant audiences.

Prior to joining Practo, Dubey, who is named among BW Top 50 Marketers 2021, had a stint at Qualcomm, a technology company. With more than 15 years of experience under his belt, Dubey’s expertise lies in the fields of marketing strategy and technology.