By Scott Meacham
Successful startups are all about vision and passion and great ideas. They are also about attaining metrics that lead to positive cashflow and attract investment.
When it comes to metrics, the customer growth story from SendaRide, a young Oklahoma company that provides customized, concierge, non-emergency medical transportation, packs a punch.
SendaRide serves hospitals, medical practices, and non-profits. Riders come from vulnerable populations, including seniors, people who have medical conditions, and riders with disabilities or special needs—groups who can be untrusting of traditional ride-share and uncomfortable with mobile iPhone apps.
In less than 36 months, SendaRide has completed about 60,000 rides. The company is continuing to add jobs — for sales reps, customer service professionals, and drivers.
“We found an unmet need and created a superior product with our own technology, our own customer service, and our own drivers,” said CEO Laura Fleet. “When I meet with a potential client, no one ever says I don’t have a need. No one ever says we don’t fit.”
Since SendaRide pricing is comparable to taxis or traditional ride share, budgeting is straightforward.
Highly trained and compassionate drivers and a dedicated in-house customer service team are SendaRide’s secret sauce. Drivers are vetted according to the client’s needs. For example, a hospital might require background checks, fingerprinting, CPR training, or flu shots. Safety and security are paramount.
“We do in-person interviews of every driver to meet the mindset and the mission of the company,” Fleet said. “They are amazing, like-minded individuals.”
SendaRide is expanding into five major metros in Texas — Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio and plans to be in eight states within the next three years. The company is seeing a ground swell of interest from other organizations that serve populations with safe and secure transportation needs — churches, senior centers, adult daycare, oncology centers, and even organizations that help people re-enter the work force and need transport to interviews.
Just last week, Fleet met with several non-profits that provide senior services. “All of them need help with transportation in some way — from required doctor visits, to lab visits for diabetes, to drug testing.
i2E has been working with SendaRide since the company launched in 2018. We have provided capital, leveraged with mentoring and customized venture services.
“i2E surrounded me with consultants and professionals,” Fleet said. “I turn to them for advice. They brought in a sales consultant who analyzed our sales process. Now we have a hand-selected VP. If I were to call i2E and say I really need a marketing person, they would find me a list of vetted people. They are definitely hands-on. They do not abandon a company once they invest. We can ask their advice or help on anything.”
That’s i2E’s mission and public/private sector model. We provide much more than capital, and we do not abandon a company once we invest. Our portfolio companies’ metrics are our metrics. We measure our performance by their success.
Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org