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UberEATS launched in Bengaluru, to hit more cities soon

LiveMint logoLiveMint 17-08-2017 Anirban Sen

Bengaluru: Uber Technologies Inc., which piloted its food delivery service UberEATS in India earlier this year, is starting the service in Bengaluru, with plans to launch it across more cities over the next 6-12 months, a company executive said.

In an interview on Thursday, UberEATS head Bhavik Rathod indicated that the cab hailing company was backing its ability to compete strongly against established rivals in the food delivery space such as Swiggy and Zomato.

“In under four months, we’re going to be live in three cities. It speaks volumes about our commitment in India and how we want to aggressively scale in this market,” said Rathod, who was previously Uber’s regional general manager for south and west India and Sri Lanka. In May, Uber launched UberEATS in Mumbai, followed by New Delhi.

UberEATS, which is a separate app, was first piloted by Uber in Los Angeles in 2014, before being expanded to 100 cities across the world, including New York, Paris, Seattle, Bangkok, Singapore, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

“There are two reasons as to why we launched UberEATS in the country. We looked at the market, which is a $15-20 billion market for food delivery and the demand for that is still largely unmet. A lot of it is still unorganized where you pick up the phone and call a restaurant or the restaurant partner just walks over and delivers the food,” said Rathod. “The second reason is that our presence in the country is now touching four years. With that what’s happened is that now that we are present in 30 cities for our rides business, there are a lot of learnings that we’ve gathered on how people consume the application...and things like traffic patterns, etc.,” he added. In Bengaluru, UberEATS will initially be available in three neighbourhoods—HSR Layout, Koramangala and BTM Layout—before a full-fledged launch over the coming weeks. Uber said it has partnered with over 300 restaurants in Bengaluru. Uber has also hired former Oyo Rooms executive Vartika Bansal to help expand the food delivery business.

“Even with players in the market (such as Swiggy and Zomato), there is still a large set of consumers who still don’t order online or they’re still looking for restaurant options to order food from. There is still a lot for us to do in this space and there is still a lot for India to get and open up to in the space of food delivery,” said Rathod.

“Our technology is now live in over 100 cities globally. Looking at that, there are a lot of learnings that you can bring here and we’ve cracked this code in 100 cities already. It gives us immense confidence that we can make this work in several markets outside—there will be a few tweaks and customization required for India for sure, which will happen, but there is enough confidence that we can make this work,” said Rathod.

The expansion of its food delivery service comes at a time when the San Francisco-based company is still grappling with the exit of its founder Travis Kalanick, which is easily one of the most significant events in the start-up world in the past decade. In a July interview with Mint, Uber India chief Amit Jain said that the company’s India commitment would not be affected by Kalanick’s departure. For US-based Uber, India became its most important international market after it sold its China business to local rival Didi Chuxing last August. Uber and Ola (ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd) differ over who controls how much of the market. Ola executives and investors claim that Uber, currently, is less than half of Ola’s size while Uber executives claim that it is slightly bigger than Ola. There is no conclusive way of checking either claim.

According to Jain, both the number of daily trips and gross sales at Uber India had increased 2.5 times at the end of June from the year-ago period. In a recent statement, Uber said it had completed 500 million rides in India since launching in August 2013.

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