India’s Uber rival Ola is headed to Europe with ride-hailing launch in the UK

The UK is getting a new alternative to Uber after India-based ride-hailing company Ola announced plans to expand to the country, which will become its first market in Europe.

Ola was founded in 2010 and it covers over 110 cities in India where it offers licensed taxis, private hire cars and rickshaws through a network of over one million drivers. The company has raised around $3 billion from investors that include SoftBank, Chinese duo Tencent and Didi Chuxing and DST Global . It was last valued at $7 billion. Ola ventured overseas for the first time when it launched in Australia earlier this year — it is now in seven cities there — and its move into the UK signals a further expansion into Europe.

Ola’s UK service isn’t live right now, but the company said it will begin offering licensed taxi and private hire bookings initially in South Wales and Greater Manchester “soon.” Ola plans to expand that coverage nationwide before the end of this year. That will eventually mean taking on Uber and potentially Taxify another unicorn startup backed by Didi which is looking to relaunch in the UK — in London and other major cities.

So, why the UK?

Ola CEO and co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal called the country “a fantastic place to do business” and added that he “look[s] forward to providing a responsible, compelling, new service that can help the country meet its ever demanding mobility needs.”

It’s no secret that Uber has struggled in London, where its gung-ho attitude to business — ‘launch first, apologize later’ — has seen it run into issues with regulators. Uber (just about) won a provisional 15-month transport license earlier this year following an appeal against the city’s transportation regulator, Transport for London (TfL) earlier rejected its application.

The’ New Uber’ — under CEO Dara Khosrowshahi — is trying to right the wrongs of the past, but compliance with regulators takes time and requires wholesale changes to business, operations and company culture.

Ola isn’t commenting directly on its rivalry with Uber — we did ask, but got a predictable “no comment” — but the tone of its announcement today shows it is focused on being a more collaborative player than Uber.

Indeed, there’s been much groundwork. Aggarwal met with regulators in London last year and he said in a statement released today that he plans “continued engagement with policymakers and regulators” as the Ola service expands across the UK.

International expansion is very much part of Ola’s ambition to go public, which Aggarwal recently said could happen in the next three to four years. But Ola isn’t alone in looking overseas. Didi, the firm that defeated Uber in China and has backed Ola, Taxify and many others, has also been busy moving into new markets.

Last year, the firm raised $4 billion to double down on technology, AI and go overseas and it has come good on that promise by entering MexicoAustralia and Taiwan. It also landed Brazil through the acquisition of local player and Uber rival 99 and it is preparing to go live in Japan, where it will operate a taxi-booking service through a joint venture with SoftBank.

China’s Didi Chuxing is close to launching a taxi-booking service in Japan

Days after raising $500 million via a strategic investment from travel giant Booking Holdings, Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing has continued its international push with the launch of a local business in Japan.

Its new Japan-based unit is a joint venture with SoftBank, a longtime Didi investor, which has been in the works since an announcement back in February. Today’s news isn’t that the service is live yet — it isn’t — but rather than the JV has been formally launched.

Didi did say, however, that it plans to launch services for passengers, drivers and taxi operators in Osaka, Kyoto, Fukuoka, Tokyo and other major cities from autumn this year. Didi said that its users in China and Hong Kong will be able to use the soon-to-launch Japan service through their regular Didi app — that’s interesting since a ‘roaming’ strategy involving Lyft and others arranged years ago never came to fruition.

And yes, you did read correctly that taxi operators are part of the target audience. That’s because Japan doesn’t allow unlicensed private cars to operate as taxis.

That’s made the country a real challenge for Uber, which has held talks with taxi operators, and it also explains why one of the leading ride-hailing service in Japan — JapanTaxi — is backed by the taxi industry. JapanTaxi is even owned by an insider, Ichiro Kawanabe, who runs Japan’s largest taxi operator Nihon Kotsu and heads up the country’s taxi federation.

Working with taxi operators means Didi has a fleet management platform, as above, as part of its Japan-based service.

That concession on working with taxis doesn’t necessarily mean that Didi isn’t focused on widening the market by enabling “ride-sharing” with non-taxi drivers in the future.

Reuters reports that SoftBank supremo Masayoshi Son — one half of the Didi Japan joint venture — made some family scathing comments at an annual event.

“Ride-sharing is prohibited by law in Japan. I can’t believe there is still such a stupid country,” Son is said to have remarked.

Didi, of course, is playing things more cautious as it rides into Japan.

The company said that the country, which is the world’s third-largest market based on taxi ride revenue, “holds great potential as a market for online taxi-hailing.”

“There is earnest demand for more convenient urban and regional transportation services, especially in light of the growing population of senior citizens,” Didi added via a statement.

The Japanese expansion is another example of Didi’s push to internationalize its service beyond China in 2018. Last year, it raised $4 billion to double down on technology, AI and move into new markets, and this year it has come good on that promise by entering Mexico, Australia and Taiwan. While over in Brazil, it leaped into the market through the acquisition of local player and Uber rival 99.

The 99 deal was a particularly interesting one since Didi had previously backed the company via an investment. Didi didn’t say much about the mechanics of that strategy, but it has investments in ride-sharing companies worldwide, including Lyft, Grab, Ola, Careem and Taxify, which you’d imagine, like 99, could be converted into full-on acquisitions at some point in moves that would speed up that international expansion.

Using tech and $100M, Dr Consulta transforms healthcare for the poorest

Healthcare delivery is an incredibly complex topic, but one that has a simple truth: health security is key to living a good life, and, ultimately, for developing a strong economy. Unfortunately, billions worldwide suffer from lack of access to even the most basic of medical diagnostics and treatments, since doctors often aren’t available and the costs when they are can be exorbitant.

That’s the world that Thomaz Srougi grew up with in his native Brazil. Brazil has made health security a major priority, offering comprehensive and free medical coverage to every citizen, a right enshrined in its constitution. That simple right though is riven with challenges, from a lack of public funding, to long queues for services, to geographic disparities between urban cores and rural areas.

Those with the means use private medical services, but those costs are far outside the reach of the majority of Brazil’s inhabitants. The country may have made a commitment in words, but it has in many ways failed to fulfill that commitment with actions.

Srougi wanted to bridge that gap. He had medicine in his DNA: his father was a urologist, and so saw first hand the challenges of the public health system. He spent years as an investment banker and financier, and also netted two masters degrees from the University of Chicago in business and public policy. But he yearned to return to Brazil and work on ameliorating the massive health disparities that he saw in his youth.

His solution would eventually become Dr Consulta. The concept was simple: offer the sort of universal access of the public health system, but with the quality and timeliness of the private health market. Srougi and his team opened their first clinic in 2011 in a São Paulo favela, the irregular slums that spread like an archipelago through Brazil’s cities.

Since that humble beginning, Dr Consulta has spread rapidly throughout the country, becoming the largest private medical service provider in Brazil, according to the company. It now boasts more than 2,000 doctors, and has served more than a million patients in a country of 208 million. In São Paulo alone, the company has 44 medical centers. That growth has certainly caught the attention of venture capitalists, who have plowed $100 million into the company since its inception.

The company started off with just the brick-and-mortar of clinics. They were bare bones, but functional. A doctor is always on call, and they are located in the hearts of neighborhoods to guarantee accessibility. Patient records are stored digitally, and perhaps most importantly, prices are — relatively — reasonable, with basic procedures costing only around $20. Those savings come from vertical integration — the clinics are one-stop shops for medical treatments, allowing doctors to save time and money on tests and other procedures.

Dr Consulta’s app allows patients to get results and feedback faster

Over time, the company has increasingly focused on its digital practice. With its large number of patients, the company is building out its data science practice. With its patient records, Dr Consulta hopes to move beyond just basic app workflow tools to predictively analyzing patient trends and finding new and robust treatments. The hope is that the careful application of machine learning algorithms will allow the company to simultaneously improve its patient outcomes while continuing to drive down costs.

That data could also be valuable for medical researchers. The company is exploring partnerships with universities and others who might be able to use patient data in a confidential way in order to investigate new therapeutics. That data could be particularly valuable since Dr Consulta’s data could add significant diversity to existing datasets from Western countries.

With the clinics in place, the company is now branching out into new product lines to continue expanding its footprint. One initiative is to offer a sort of rewards card that can be used with retail partners. The idea is to build upon the brand that Dr Consulta has built and create a community of retailers that might offer complementary goods and services. The company is also building out a subscription program that would allow customers to pay a flat monthly fee for unlimited medical care.

In short, Dr Consulta wants to be the hub for health and wellness for each of its patients. The company offers a unique example of how concentrating on underserved markets with services priced effectively can be a massive startup opportunity, while also helping people find the health security they need to build better lives.

Meet the speakers at The Europas, and get your ticket free (July 3, London)

Excited to announce that this year’s The Europas Unconference & Awards is shaping up! Our half day Unconference kicks off on 3 July, 2018 at The Brewery in the heart of London’s “Tech City” area, followed by our startup awards dinner and fantastic party and celebration of European startups!

The event is run in partnership with TechCrunch, the official media partner. Attendees, nominees and winners will get deep discounts to TechCrunch Disrupt in Berlin, later this year.
The Europas Awards are based on voting by expert judges and the industry itself. But key to the daytime is all the speakers and invited guests. There’s no “off-limits speaker room” at The Europas, so attendees can mingle easily with VIPs and speakers.

What exactly is an Unconference? We’re dispensing with the lectures and going straight to the deep-dives, where you’ll get a front row seat with Europe’s leading investors, founders and thought leaders to discuss and debate the most urgent issues, challenges and opportunities. Up close and personal! And, crucially, a few feet away from handing over a business card. The Unconference is focused into zones including AI, Fintech, Mobility, Startups, Society, and Enterprise and Crypto / Blockchain.

We’ve confirmed 10 new speakers including:


Eileen Burbidge, Passion Capital

Carlos Eduardo Espinal, Seedcamp

Richard Muirhead, Fabric Ventures

Sitar Teli, Connect Ventures

Nancy Fechnay, Blockchain Technologist + Angel

George McDonaugh, KR1

Candice Lo, Blossom Capital

Scott Sage, Crane Venture Partners

Andrei Brasoveanu, Accel

Tina Baker, Jag Shaw Baker

How To Get Your Ticket For FREE

We’d love for you to ask your friends to join us at The Europas – and we’ve got a special way to thank you for sharing.

Your friend will enjoy a 15% discount off the price of their ticket with your code, and you’ll get 15% off the price of YOUR ticket.

That’s right, we will refund you 15% off the cost of your ticket automatically when your friend purchases a Europas ticket.

So you can grab tickets here.

Vote for your Favourite Startups

Public Voting is still humming along. Please remember to vote for your favourite startups!

Awards by category:

Hottest Media/Entertainment Startup

Hottest E-commerce/Retail Startup

Hottest Education Startup

Hottest Startup Accelerator

Hottest Marketing/AdTech Startup

Hottest Games Startup

Hottest Mobile Startup

Hottest FinTech Startup

Hottest Enterprise, SaaS or B2B Startup

Hottest Hardware Startup

Hottest Platform Economy / Marketplace

Hottest Health Startup

Hottest Cyber Security Startup

Hottest Travel Startup

Hottest Internet of Things Startup

Hottest Technology Innovation

Hottest FashionTech Startup

Hottest Tech For Good

Hottest A.I. Startup

Fastest Rising Startup Of The Year

Hottest GreenTech Startup of The Year

Hottest Startup Founders

Hottest CEO of the Year

Best Angel/Seed Investor of the Year

Hottest VC Investor of the Year

Hottest Blockchain/Crypto Startup Founder(s)

Hottest Blockchain Protocol Project

Hottest Blockchain DApp

Hottest Corporate Blockchain Project

Hottest Blockchain Investor

Hottest Blockchain ICO (Europe)

Hottest Financial Crypto Project

Hottest Blockchain for Good Project

Hottest Blockchain Identity Project

Hall Of Fame Award – Awarded to a long-term player in Europe

The Europas Grand Prix Award (to be decided from winners)

The Awards celebrates the most forward thinking and innovative tech & blockchain startups across over some 30+ categories.

Startups can apply for an award or be nominated by anyone, including our judges. It is free to enter or be nominated.

What is The Europas?

Instead of thousands and thousands of people, think of a great summer event with 1,000 of the most interesting and useful people in the industry, including key investors and leading entrepreneurs.

• No secret VIP rooms, which means you get to interact with the Speakers

• Key Founders and investors speaking; featured attendees invited to just network

• Expert speeches, discussions, and Q&A directly from the main stage

• Intimate “breakout” sessions with key players on vertical topics

• The opportunity to meet almost everyone in those small groups, super-charging your networking

• Journalists from major tech titles, newspapers and business broadcasters

• A parallel Founders-only track geared towards fund-raising and hyper-networking

• A stunning awards dinner and party which honors both the hottest startups and the leading lights in the European startup scene

• All on one day to maximise your time in London. And it’s PROBABLY sunny!

europas8

That’s just the beginning. There’s more to come…

europas13

Interested in sponsoring the Europas or hosting a table at the awards? Or purchasing a table for 10 or 12 guest or a half table for 5 guests? Get in touch with:
Petra Johansson
Petra@theeuropas.com
Phone: +44 (0) 20 3239 9325

Brazil’s tech startups begin to expand globally

Startups in Brazil, Latin America’s largest entrepreneurial ecosystem, are no longer solely focused on Brazil as their only frontier to conquer. Based on conversations with founders and in tracking the news, dozens of startups born in Brazil have realized they can compete on a global scale and expand their companies quickly by exporting their business models to other regional markets around the world, including Canada, Colombia, Europe, Japan, Mexico, the U.K. and the U.S.

Traditionally, many Brazilian startups have been content to focus on growing their revenues and market share on the “Ilha de Santa Cruz” (Island of the True Cross, as Brazil was named by a Portuguese sea-captain in 1500). There is plenty to feast on here with a growing middle class, the citizens’ voracious appetite for social and digital media consumption and a population of nearly 211,000,000. More so than other major entrepreneurial centers, Brazil’s founders are known for bootstrapping early-stage companies and avoiding global expansion, as the capital can be costly and lead to a dilution in shares in their startups.

Yet, as the country that is home to the world’s eighth largest economy slowly pulls out of a long recession with its first annual uptick in GDP last year, increasingly the “Brazilians are coming” to compete in more international markets — and more rapidly than ever before. Entrepreneurial expansion outside the country is on the rise as the startup ecosystem becomes more mature, and against a backdrop of unprecedented levels of global investment coming into Brazil from China, Japan, Europe, Silicon Valley and beyond. Indeed, international investment in LatAm startups has “more than doubled since 2013.”

Another trend that’s providing more Brazilian companies with the capital needed to fuel their global expansion is the “flurry of equity deals” during the first part of 2018, “ahead of the presidential elections in October that are expected to prompt volatility in the markets,” according to Bloomberg Markets. For example, NYSE’s biggest IPO since Snap earlier this year raised nearly $2.3 billion for Brazilian fintech PagSeguro (NYSE:PAGS), a payment processing company similar in business model to Jack Dorsey’s Square. It was the largest IPO of a Brazilian company since 2011.

Brazil’s export of fast-growth startups is on the rise

There has been a growing stream of Brazilian startups that have begun to shift focus to the U.S. during the last two years. Mosyle, founded in 2012 by Alcyr Araujo, is now based in the U.S. and used in more than 4,000 schools to help ensure that kids’ mobile device experiences are fun, safe and educational with more parental and teacher involvement.

Pipefy, which announced $16 million in Series A funding last month and was originally based in Curitiba, Brazil, has recently relocated its global HQ to San Francisco. More than 8,000 companies in 146 countries around the world use its operations-excellence platform today.

Similarly, PSafe, a mobile security, privacy and performance platform company, moved its global headquarters to San Francisco last August and now has more than half of its revenues from the U.S.

A fast-growth Brazilian startup called Gympass, which offers a corporate benefit plan to keep employees fit and healthy, has quietly grown into a global business in less than six years. Born in the country that places second in overall number of gyms, Gympass lets a company’s employees make unlimited visits to a growing network of multiple gyms and pay less than half the normal monthly fee. Last month, the company announced its launch in 12 key markets in the U.S., adding 3,000 new workout facilities to its global network of 30,000. Its corporate partners include Accenture, Deloitte, Metlife, PayPal and P&G.

The spirit of entrepreneurism in Brazil is as infectious as its natural resources are vast.

Belo Horizonte-based Hotmart, a comprehensive platform to sell digital products like e-books, online courses and software that was founded in 2011, has expanded into Europe, including opening new offices in Madrid, Paris and the Netherlands. It’s also expanded into Colombia.

São Paulo-based Movile, a leader in mobile marketplaces with a big dream of making life better for a billion people through mobile apps, has seen tremendous growth since its founding in 1998. It now employs more than 1,500 people and impacts the lives of more than 100 million people around the globe. Its food-delivery market, iFood, is now booming on all continents, and Naspers and the fund Innova Capital invested a new $82 million round last December, with a singular focus on growing iFood’s market share.

Since its foundation, Movile has raised more than $250 million to accomplish more than 20 mergers, acquisitions and investments in startups beyond iFood, including Maplink, PlayKids, Pointer, Rapiddo, SuperPlayer and Sympla, among others.

Smart strategy and networking resources boost success

With the advent and growth of SaaS platforms, a fast-emerging global on-demand economy and some entirely original business models, many Brazilian startups are poised for success as they scale from being regional plays to any number of international markets. Typically, when more than a quarter of a startup’s business is coming in from international markets — as was the case with Pipefy and its cloud-based platform — the timing is ripe to land and expand outside a company’s home country.

In choosing international markets, a smart strategy for tech startup founders is to analyze those regions that possess high broadband and mobile-device adoption, readily available payment infrastructures, political stability, level socioeconomic playing fields, fair tax requirements and an easy-to-navigate regulatory environment. One useful rule of thumb to help obtain a basic understanding is to compare the overall internet population by country versus GDP per capita. This exercise will generate a model to prioritize countries with larger numbers of prospects with high levels of disposable income.

Another critical element for optimizing success is a solid understanding of regional differences and key variances across international markets — from cultural nuances to regulatory impacts to diverse approaches to conducting business. Identifying and tapping local network resources early on can make a world of difference.

The maturing startup ecosystem in Brazil has benefited hugely from access to Cubo, the largest entrepreneurial hub in Latin America, and its constant intermingling and exchange of ideas between startup founders, investors, academics and government officials.

In Silicon Valley, BayBrazil has been hugely impactful in connecting and building a tight-knit community of Brazilian and U.S. professionals, founders and scholars living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. On a global scale, organizations like Endeavor have sparked high-impact entrepreneurship and success around the planet.

The spirit of entrepreneurism in Brazil is as infectious as its natural resources are vast. A recent rise in startups born and bred in Brazil that are being exported to international markets around the globe to further scale and propagate is a trend to be celebrated.

Saúde! (Cheers)