Six months ago, Pardeep Grewal, a Canadian working for Uber in Toronto and New York, was hired away by a small ride-hailing startup in Bangladesh, half a world away. When he was first recruited, he knew so little about the country he had to look up the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka on Google. Today, he is COO of the company, called Pathao, and his biggest competitor is Uber.
It’s a market that bears watching as the global ride-hailing battle intensifies. From Latin America to sub-Saharan Africa to south Asia, Uber is trying to build market share even as new companies start operating—often funded by bigger ride-hailing firms in Asia that don’t want the U.S. firm to have a monopoly in any major city. In Bangladesh, for instance, Pathao’s main outside backer is Indonesia-based Go-Jek, which is also fighting Uber in its home territory.