On the 28th of July, ISB Mohali Campus witnessed an engaging talk with Amit Jain, President, Uber India. Having grown up in Assam and schooled in Nainital, Mr. Amit Jain went on to take his engineering degree from IIT Delhi and MBA from Stanford. After a year and a half with Uber he seems most fitting to play anchor to the Indian arm of this company that has rapidly changed from a start up to a global company.
“Uber started with a very simple idea,” Mr. Jain said, “How to get people from Point A to Point B. It took 6 years to reach the 1 billionth ride. After that, it took 6 months to get to the 2nd billionth ride.”
Uber started in India as a luxury cab service, but soon recognized its market here and began to cater to their needs. 3 years and 28 cities later, Uber in India is a force to be reckoned with. “Our vision is to provide safe reliable convenient affordable transportation available for everyone.”
From his address, it became clear that Amit takes pride in how Uber has contributed to the economy of the country and added to the livelihoods of many. Uber has continuously factored in reducing congestion and increasing convenience in the cities it operates in. “The difference in the lives of driver partners and riders has been phenomenal.” he gushed, to an audience that nodded in agreement.
As part of a Q&A session that followed, Amit addressed some very relevant questions that plagued the class about Uber’s operations, intentions and its seemingly bright future in India. "In a developed market you have more means of public transport. In India that delta is even wider,” said Amit.
Uber is making an attempt to bridge this gap while holding the needs of their driver partners as important as their riders. They allow the masses access to infinite jobs, a livelihood with respect and dignity, in an essence “creating micro-entrepreneurs”.
Drivers often start out driving a rented car, and then buy their own car, and many often end up buying multiple cars that others can drive. Uber Dost is a platform that allows drivers to earn money by referring other drivers to Uber. As a solution to the increasing congestion and pollution in cities, he cites the example of Uber Pool that has now begun in 5 cities in India. “In Delhi NCR itself, 70% cars have single passenger. 20% of open space is used for parking,” he stated. While public infrastructure and development takes time, Uber is providing a solution until then with its shared cabs.
Further, he commented on the efficiency at Uber that has helped them gain success in India. Amit mentioned that what Uber does differently is to concentrate on customer experience. “Black and yellow are utilised at 5-10%. Disruption happens when you match supply with demand effectively enough to gain almost 50% efficiency, as we have experienced.”
Amit also discussed how Uber India has kept itself alive and relevant in India with a number of innovations that differ greatly from how Uber operates abroad. One of the major clinchers for Uber was the shift to cash and wallet payments to adapt to Indian mindsets as well as the masses in the country. Their prime marketing method is word of mouth. “We have never done billboard and TV ads, we’ve always shied away from traditional big campaigns. We just want to build a product that someone will want to refer and will use again.”
He also attempted to remove the stigma against surge pricing. “Surge pricing only matches supply and demand. We pay surge prices everyday when we book flights and rooms in hotels. It’s all dynamic pricing” was what he commented. He also commented on questions regarding when Uber plans to go public - “Not any time soon. We are fortunate not to need public capital today. Going public brings a whole lot of external pressure that you don’t have when you’re a private company”. Overall it was an extremely interactive platform for the students at ISB to learn on the practical aspects of all the MBA theories learnt in the classroom.