Uber CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick, who was in India recently, asserted that India is posing tough competition to China. "India is a potential market and it is approaching towards fiercely competitive market like China, " he said, hinting that Uber could double its current committed investment of $1 billion in India if it sees more than five times the return. "If we see five times the return on our spending, we would spend $2 billion instead of $1 billion that we have committed to spending on the India business," Kalanick said, addressing aspiring entrepreneurs at the IIT Bombay campus.
On where would Uber be in 2020, he said the journey of Uber has been unexpected, as in just six years Uber it was part of the competitive market. He further added: “The economy in India has really been flourishing in a big way in the last decade. I expect so much of big growth ahead, and at a scale. By 2020, there will be 1 billion smartphone users here, and I'm excited about that".
He commented on the potential of Uber in the market that "In January this year, Uber has a market share of about 40 % (in India), from 4% in January last year. In three of the top five cities here, more than 50% of citizens prefer Uber," he added.
Like any other startup, Uber has also faced challenges. Travis shared when Uber came to India three years ago, lack of financial instruments was the biggest challenge, people didn't have cars, there weren't enough cars or smartphone users, he said. "But all that is changing so fast."
Kalanick visions India as a top research and innovation hub, especially Bengaluru, as he said: "I've been to many cities and I always refer to the three`bays'. The Bay Area, Beijing and Bengaluru, that will be in the forefront."
Speaking about deep discounting practises followed by many e-commerce companies, he said that subsidies and large burning of cash are a "Chinese invention"."It's a pretty interesting innovation that I had to learn about. I know how to build profitable businesses but China is fiercely competitive. In some ways India is going that way, ” he added
In the last 10 years, the start-up ecosystem in India has gone up, therefore, the funding environment has gone global, he said, "we now have global investors whose main thing is to invest in India". He further added "In order to compete, you have to do it, but I make sure that I spend my investments more efficiently. I don't have to spend money if there is no return on investment on it."