Executive Q&A with Laura Fleet

By Paul Burkes
Business Writer
The Oklahoman
Pburkes@oklahoman.com

Laura Fleet, CEO and co-founder of SendaRide hatched the idea for her startup tech company – a customized, concierge door-to-door transportation service for the health care industry – at one of her lowest times ever.

Flat on her back for weeks following surgery, Fleet relied on family and friends to drive her to follow-up appointments, before she determined to arrange transportation on her own. Slow moving, Fleet couldn’t get out of her front door fast enough for the first contracted rideshare driver, who left and charged her a $5 cancellation fee. The subsequent cab driver waited for her, but she still felt frail and vulnerable.

A healthcare lawyer, Fleet and her husband invested their own money initially to bootstrap her company – SendaRide – specifically for the healthcare industry and patients like herself. The company now has several investors.

Started in May 2017, SendaRide partners with healthcare facilities to ensure patients arrive on time for their dialysis, chemotherapy and other medical appointments. Social workers or caseworkers typically book round-trip transportation for patients, using a web portal that meets the privacy regulations and other laws that govern the industry.

SendaRide’s headquarters is based in Oklahoma City. The company employees call center, hundreds of contracted drivers, as well as a contracted team of code writers, who all serve customers in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Dallas, and Fort Worth, with plans to launch in Houston and San Antonio this year. It’s now providing over 4,000 rides a month.

We sat down with Fleet to ask her about her life and career:

Tell us more about SendaRide:
Our drivers are carefully vetted, background screened and trained. We train them on our concierge service and patient confidentiality and the expectations of the company. All of our rides are recorded. Our app shows the ride in progress, and family members and caregivers can text drivers or even talk with them during the ride. One Oklahoma City church now uses SendaRide to provide transportation to worship services for their homebound members. And, the epilepsy foundation and other individuals are using us to arrange rides for their loved ones to family dinners and to run errands. Unlike other rideshare programs, we’re a phone call away if there’s a change of plans or other issues.

Tell us about your childhood.
My dad was in the Air Force, so we moved around a lot. I was born in Texas and we lived in Turkey, then in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, before returning to Wichita Falls, Texas, where I graduated high school.

Until recently, you’ve been an avid horseback rider. When did you start?
As a young girl, my parents held a birthday party for me at a stable in Fayetteville, and when we lived in New Mexico, I’d ride the bus to the Air Force Base, where there was a stable. In Wichita Falls, we lived on five acres and had horses. I jumped fences and showed horses; English style. Years of jumping is what injured my back. I finally gave up horseback riding when I had back surgery.

When did you decide to become a lawyer, and why’d you choose to attend Oklahoma City University School of Law?
In a business law class in high school. It just clicked; I loved learning about cause and effect and hard and fast rules. I studied political science and English writing at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls and chose OCU for law school because I’d visited friends here, liked the city, and it was close to home.

How’d you come to specialize in health care law?
I established an interest in law school and took every related class I could. After graduation, I joined the legal department of PacifiCare Health Systems (now United Health Care) as a compliance officer. After four years there, I was recruited as the executive director/lobbyist for the Oklahoma Association of Health Plans, a role I still fill part-time. I’ve also served as a counsel for Crowe & Dunlevy law firm since 2006. Those experiences have given me an in-depth view of healthcare systems and health care law. Many of the contacts I made over the years are now clients of SendaRide.

For more information on partnering with SendaRide, contact Laura Fleet at business@SendaRide.com,
1-800-731-1885 or, by visiting www.sendaride.com.