Article provided by VoyageMIA
Today, we’d like to introduce you to Matt Friedmann, Partner at Freebee.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Matt. So, let’s start at the beginning of Freebee and we can move on from there. Can you tell us about your company’s journey?
We launched Freebee in 2012 with only a small fleet of vehicles, but with ambitious plans for the future. We started with 6 vehicles in South Beach and have been building up our company and delivering for our clients day in and day out for the past 5 years.
Today, we are proud to announce that we have over 40 vehicles in the Freebee fleet, with operations in South Beach, Brickell, Downtown, Wynwood, Midtown, the Design District, Coral Gables, Key Biscayne, Coconut Grove, and Hallandale, with more locations opening up soon.
We began by generating revenue strictly through advertising on the outside and inside of our vehicles. Now, we also provide city-funded public transportation within Miami, which enables us to provide a very reliable and efficient transportation service. About 2 years after the first Freebee’s hit the road, we launched our game-changing Freebee Mobile App, which allows users to request rides on demand, with the push of a button. On top of making it easy to request Freebee rides, the App also offers deals and discounts to many of the best restaurants, bars, activities, and “Places to Bee” around Miami.
Since our launch, we’ve built up our team to include nearly 50 employees. Our core management team has been together since Day 1 and we’ve expanded our headquarters in Wynwood to include more space to accommodate our company’s growth and plans for future expansion. It’s been a ton of hard work, but the future has never been brighter for Freebee!
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
We’ve faced many challenges along the way, but have almost always come out on top due to careful decision-making, good judgment, and the great relationships we’ve established throughout South Florida.
From a sales perspective, in order to sell advertising on our vehicles, we really needed to educate the marketers on our product and the unique advertising benefits that Freebee offers.
Because the Freebee concept is a new form of marketing, it took some time for the advertising platform to really catch on.
Now that we’ve established ourselves, the marketers are much more aware of the benefits of advertising with Freebee and we’re able to execute highly customized marketing campaigns through our vehicles and brand ambassador drivers to really help our clients exceed their goals.
Another challenge has been conceptualizing, developing, and consistently improving our Freebee Mobile App technology. This can get very time consuming, especially considering that Freebee has a pretty small staff in comparison to Uber or other forms of on-demand transportation. We were lucky enough to work with some great App developers from the start and have been continuing to develop and improve our mobile App for the past 3 years. There are always more upgrades to make every time a new iOS update comes out for the Apple phones or when new Android software comes out as well. The App has been an expensive investment but is 100% necessary for the success of our business.
Operationally, we’ve had to hire an experienced, in-house maintenance team that works full time on making sure everything is running smoothly with our Freebee vehicle fleet.
These vehicles are on the road 365 days a year and are not “regular” cars, so there’s a lot of wear and tear, as you might imagine. Our maintenance team does a great job to keep these vehicles on the road at all times.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Freebee story. Tell us more about the business.
Freebee is known for providing fun, free, and 100% electric, open-air rides around Miami. On top of all these rides, we execute very impactful marketing campaigns for our advertisers through the vehicles. Each vehicle is branded for one of our various advertisers, such as Capital One, Baptist Health South Florida, Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi, T-Mobile and many other prominent national and local brands. Our employee drivers serve as brand ambassadors for these different marketing campaigns, distribute the client’s marketing materials, and encourage the passengers to take pictures in our selfie cam booths so they can save the memories of their Freebee experiences.
Freebee is very different than any other company out there in terms of the customer experience we provide our riders and our level of execution for these public transportation contracts, marketing campaigns we produce, consistently improving the Freebee App, and everything in between. We set the bar extremely high and hold ourselves to a standard that is unmatched in our industry. People often say that “Freebee is the hardest working company” in Miami and I’d have to agree. We have a special formula that we use to make our company successful, along with our company culture and ambitious leadership team.
Freebee is the only company in this space, with employee drivers; while other companies try to use independent contractors. This is an expensive investment for our company, but it is 100% worth it, as these brand ambassador drivers are trained to provide excellent guest experiences for our passengers and represent our clients at the highest level. We also have a full management staff to oversee the drivers, vehicles, and campaigns to make sure we are consistently delivering for our clients and passengers.
Personally, I am most proud of the fact that we are really making a difference in people’s lives in Miami to make Miami a better place to live, work, and play. We are providing FREE and 100% battery powered rides to the various communities around Miami while reducing drinking and driving and helping to minimize the lack of parking around this city. It’s a great feeling when we truly deliver for our client’s marketing campaigns and also “drive” more customers to many of the local businesses we work with. I am especially proud that our core management team has stayed together since the start, over 5 years ago. We’ve all grown together, through the highs and lows, and it might be equally impressive that outside of work, we’re all still great friends.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Freebee has been lucky in the fact that cities around South Florida and the US have realized that we are providing a valuable, door to door transportation service. These cities have learned that our vehicles fill a void in the market for “first and last mile” transportation. This means that in densely populated regions in Miami such as the Downtown Coral Gables area and the Village of Key Biscayne, Freebee picks up where the trolley and other forms of public transportation stop. So while these other forms of transportation get people to the outskirts of where they need to go, Freebee will come pick people up and take them to their exact destinations, since our vehicles are not on a fixed route. As a result, we now have multiple public transportation contacts with prominent cities in Miami-Dade County and are providing a real transit solution to these cities.
On a personal level, my goal has always been to expand our company across the country, when the time is right. Over the past 5 years, we have been fine-tuning our business model and all of our processes and systems to make our business more scalable. We have been building up our reputation in the South Florida community, establishing ourselves even more with the advertising community, and building out our team.
We’ve been very lucky to be able to expand our company throughout South Florida where all of our operations are still within an hour drive of our company’s headquarters.
It has been challenging for me to patient throughout the years when we see so many opportunities for our company to expand to other major cities around the US. However, the fact that we have expanded strategically has probably been for the best, so we do not spread ourselves thin, with Freebee operations around the country. But now, after 5 years, the Freebee leadership team and I are confident that we have mastered the industry we helped create and we are now ready to expand our transportation and marketing solution to more major cities across the United States. With a lot of hard work and a little good luck, Freebee will be a household name in the US, within the next 5-10 years. We couldn’t be more excited about what the future has in store for us!