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In Conversation with Mark Loughran, Group President – inDrive

Tell us about inDrive’s meteoric rise to become a unicorn in a very short space of time– what has been key in catalysing its international growth?

inDrive is a people-driven business and our international growth has focussed on delivering a platform that lets people connect with each other to provide or use services with minimum interference. While the ability to negotiate price, payment method and route, as well as choose your vehicle type, has earned us the honour of being copied by other global names in ride hailing, we see inDrive as not only a leader in ride hailing, but also a platform for a wider range of urban services.

Our unique approach to ride hailing has been so successful because it leaves the decision-making power in the hands of drivers and passengers instead of algorithms, but also because we have learned to take localisation very seriously. We always hire teams with a deep understanding of the local market when we enter a new geography, and we adapt the range of services available through inDrive’s platform based on the unique demands of each individual market.

We continue this approach with our inVision hub, which is how inDrive challenges injustice and promotes social empowerment through programs that uplift individuals across various regions and industries.

The common thread of all these initiatives is that they’re people-driven. I think that the secret to our success has been putting people, not algorithms, first!

How integral has inDrive’s app been to the company’s overall success?

The app is the cornerstone of our relationship with our riders and drivers, so naturally, it has played a key role in the company’s success. We have worked very hard to make the process of negotiating and agreeing on a ride or other services as smooth and quick as possible. The success of the app is probably best illustrated by the fact that it was the second-most-downloaded mobility app globally in 2022, according to

What’s next for inDrive? Where do you see the biggest future opportunities?

It will vary across markets, but generally we think there are incredible opportunities in expansion of urban services. We are rolling out a broader application of our ride-sharing model that will enable users to negotiate and agree on services with providers like plumbers, electricians, cleaners, and couriers.

This is a logical next step for our people-centric business, where we set out to create a platform that expands economic opportunities and access to services, both of which help to improve people’s welfare.

Where do you see the future of p2p ride-hailing globally?

I think that we will see the market diverge into the major global providers that will seek to maximise profits using algorithms and by minimising the “human factor.” These businesses will probably work in more developed markets and their approach will ultimately benefit a select few at the top.
The other approach will be to keep innovating to create and expand opportunities for more people by leveraging the incredible things technology can enable while remaining people-centric and sharing the benefits more widely. This, of course, is inDrive’s approach.
P2P ride hailing is dependent on people using the app, and inDrive is the second most downloaded ride-hailing app in the world. I think that our approach will continue to be the one that is preferred by drivers and other service providers, which translates into the best offering for customers, as well.

What are the risks of rapid-fire growth for promising start-ups and how can they remain profitable as they continue to grow into new markets?

Like so much in business, it’s a balancing act. Start-ups must prioritise careful financial planning while also making investment decisions into systems that support their growth, ensuring they maintain product quality and company culture as they scale. At the same time, founders must be cognisant of challenges that commonly arise during rapid growth, such as operational complexities, managing cash flow, tougher competition, and increased regulatory scrutiny.
While the specifics about how to achieve this balance will differ depending on the nature of the business and markets, it’s generally a good idea to avoid the approach of expansion at any cost. By understanding their audience and customers and focusing on meeting their needs, start-ups position themselves for success, regardless of what challenges may arise as they scale.

What are the three key pieces of advice you would give start-ups who are looking to scale up on a global level?

When scaling a service like P2P ride-hailing I think it is extremely important to focus on what results you want to achieve. At inDrive, we want to improve people’s lives by creating a platform that keeps people at the centre of the economic relationship instead of letting algorithms make the decisions. We advise founders to stay true to your vision, even if letting the algorithms take over might seem like an attractive way to reduce the human factor.
Second, in a business where your users are both the service providers and the consumers, make sure that you are paying attention to the needs of both groups.
Finally, know your local markets and work with local professionals. This applies to a wide range of vital information, from regulatory regimes to consumer preferences to language nuances.

What are your thoughts on Dubai and the Middle East as global hub to accelerate start-up opportunities?

There is tremendous opportunity in the Middle East for growing startups. While this has been a tough year globally for startup funding, the long term prospects for the GCC remain exceptionally strong.
The startup ecosystem here is vibrant and dynamic, underpinned by a strong commitment from UAE leadership to further cement the Middle East as a sustainable global hub for start-ups ready to grow.
We are watching the UAE startup scene closely and I’m excited to meet with many up-and-coming founders and startups at Expand North Star.

And what about the UAE and the Middle East for InDrive – will this region be the app’s next big market?

The Middle East and North Africa is already a big market for inDrive - we have significant market share in Egypt and are continuing our growth there, and we also operate in Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. We do plan to expand our services into other Middle Eastern countries, but we aren’t able to announce the timing just yet- we will be sure to let you know first thing.
What I can say is that our global expansion is rapid and ongoing. We launched in the U.S. over the summer and are more confident than ever that our unique peer-to-peer pricing model is appealing to drivers and riders in markets anywhere in the world. inDrive is committed to sustainable growth and we are constantly evaluating markets to launch into, or to expand into other services. For instance, in certain markets we already offer urban services including intercity transportation, freight and courier delivery, and on-demand task management to provide fairer, more-just service agreements.

Finally, how significant is it for you to speak at Expand North Star?

As the world’s largest tech and startup event, Expand North Star is a vital platform for discussing the most interesting opportunities and pressing issues faced in technology today. I look forward to the conversations to be had on stage and on the sidelines, and meeting with problem-solvers and tech enthusiasts from all over the world.