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STATE OF PLAY

A complete guide to Ola and the startup scene it spawned in India

Vidhya Nagarajan for Quartz
Ananya Bhattacharya
By Ananya Bhattacharya

Tech reporter

Before Ola was founded nearly 10 years ago, Indian techies’ ultimate dream was to find a job in the US. They spent years preparing for one of the world’s toughest entrance exams and prayed at “visa temples” just to get a chance to go “onsite” with a “dollar salary” and eventually maybe get a green card.

When the first wave of new-age internet startups sprung up in India and started luring young professionals towards entrepreneurship, many did not understand the trend. Several Indian founders who started out around 2008 say their parents were shocked that they had turned down a job offer from Infosys or Wipro to set up their own companies. Neighbors and relatives expressed sympathy because they had given up coveted opportunities for a risky dream.

But more recently, that attitude has changed. “When we go to colleges today—and I am not talking only about the IITs—most students there want to become entrepreneurs…Role models are changing. They are Ritesh [OYO founder Ritesh Agarwal] and Bhavish [Ola founder Bhavish Aggarwal] and all, unlike our times when it used to be Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, etc. Today, it’s not even Satya Nadella,” Debjani Ghosh, president of India’s IT industry body Nasscom, told Quartz India.

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