Laura Fleet of SendaRide
An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Laura Fleet, the co-founder and CEO of SendaRide, which was honored in our:
- 2020 Best Tech Startups in Oklahoma
- 2020 Best Tech Startups in Oklahoma City
- 2019 Best Tech Startups in Oklahoma
Tell us the origin story of SendaRide – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
Several years ago I had a major back surgery. While recovering, I relied on friends and family to help me with everything. Once I was ready for physical therapy, I was certain I could find transportation to and from my appointments each week myself and not continue to rely on family and friends for help. The first day, I ordered a typical ride-share car and headed to the front door. When he arrived, he didn’t see me out front, cancelled the ride, left, and charged me $5. The second day I ordered a taxi. He did wait for me to walk to the car, but he didn’t offer me any assistance into our out of the car. When we arrived at physical therapy, he announced “we are here” and didn’t offer any help inside the building. As I rode in the taxi, I wondered how well they vetted their drivers. This was very important to me, as I felt incredibly vulnerable from my surgery. The next available option was a wheelchair accessible van, which was much more than what I needed. As I discussed the lack of a viable solution with my husband that evening, he suggested that I create it, and that was the genesis behind SendaRide.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
I had no idea how many subjects you have to understand. Everything from creating the business model, to projecting financials, to negotiating term sheets with investors, to understanding HR laws, to learning about technology. My twenty-plus years practicing law did not prepare me for all of these topics and I found myself looking for advice and direction many times during this process.
Of those topics, I would say learning how to fundraise, read a term sheet, and negotiate an investment was the biggest hurdle.
What does the future hold for SendaRide?
We are expanding rapidly across the Midwest. Our service was thought out and built for the healthcare industry. As a result, our service is perfectly suited for hospitals, health plans, and providers. They, like myself, have searched for the solution and settled, as I did, for what was available. When they learn about SendaRide, they are excited to use our service.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Oklahoma City?
Oklahoma City is a difficult place to start a tech company. Historically, Oklahoma VCs and angels have invested heavily in brick and mortar or oil and gas. It was very difficult in the beginning to raise money in Oklahoma for a tech-based service company. Fortunately, I found a lead investor in Oklahoma that understands our dynamics and brought co-investors with them.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Understand your personal risk tolerance, ask everyone for help, be sure your product meets a need in the market, and be resilient!
1-800-731-1885 or, by visiting www.sendaride.com.
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