Indian rival slams Uber's business model

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Ola dwarfs Uber

Ola dwarfs Uber

Uber's biggest rival in India has given the US startup some unwanted advice: Go local.

"You have a very distinctive approach to the model and how [to] "Pranay Jivrajka, a senior executive at Ola Cabs, said on the sidelines of the CNN Asia Business Forum in Bangalore.

Jivrajka, who until recently served as Ola's COO, said Uber should give up his one-size-fits-all approach and instead try to understand "local nuances" that would allow him to identify services that "Users and drivers actually want it".

Uber declined to comment on Jivrajka's comments.

For years, Uber and Ola have been fighting bitterly for supremacy in India, a market with 1.3 billion potential customers. After a series of setbacks in other Asian countries, the country has become increasingly important for Uber.

The San Francisco-based company discontinued operations in Taiwan last week, six months after it sold its operations in China to local rival Didi Chuxing. Didi, who fights with Uber in important foreign markets, is one of Ola's investors.

In India, Uber often caught up with his rival from Bangalore. The latest local product offering, with which Indian users can book a car for a whole day, is already offered by Ola in 85 cities.

With Ola, users can also book one of the three-wheel auto rickshaws that are ubiquitous in India. This service was launched by Uber and discontinued in 2015.

"What helped us is an open ear for understanding what users want," said Jivrajka.

Related: Uber's rivals join forces in Asia

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick insists that his company is unwilling to leave India.

"We lose, but we see a path towards profitability," said Kalanick during a visit to Delhi in December. "We'll see you here in the long term."

Related: Uber stops operating in Taiwan as a mountain of fines

India is not always an uncomplicated market for both companies. Tens of thousands of Uber and Ola drivers went on strike in Delhi this week demanding better wages and benefits. The Delhi government has offered to mediate the dispute.

Jivrajka did not comment on the protests, but said Ola's main focus remains on getting more drivers to his platform.

"We need more drivers because the pace at which demand increases is much faster than the way supply is aggregated," he said.

Related: Uber CEO leaves Trump's corporate advisory board

Jivrajka also had some advice for another Silicon Valley giant hoping to enter India: the electric car maker Tesla.

"There are no rules on Indian roads," said Jivrajka. "One thing a lot of people say is that you can drive anywhere if you can drive in India."

– Manveena Suri contributed to the reporting

CNNMoney (Bangalore, India) First published on February 13, 2017: 08:48 ET