By Nancy Dahlberg
You’ve likely seen Freebees around town and you may have enjoyed their free rides. And now you are likely to see and hear a lot from this Miami-based ride-hailing startup.
Freebee just raised an $8 million Series A round to expand its service that provides free, on-demand rides in its electric vehicles summoned via the company’s Ride Freebee app. Also with the round, the Miami-based startup gets a strong venture partner.
BP Ventures, a venture capital firm associated with the energy giant BP, led the capital round with a $6 million investment. bp ventures will work with Freebee on scaling the business across the United States and will also explore opportunities to collaborate on the roll-out of e-charging infrastructure.
BP Ventures invests in companies that align with BP’s ambition to be net zero by 2050 or sooner, said Shaun Healey, principal at bp ventures. “The team at Freebee has come up with a brilliant business idea that incentivizes travel by electric vehicles without any cost to the user.” He said Freebee is the fund’s first investment in the Miami tech sector.
For Freebee, the investment will power its national rollout. Currently, Freebee’s service runs primarily in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro area but in recent years has begun expanding to other locations. Instead of charging consumers, the this early mover in door to door ride service is financed by local governments and other entities, such as corporate business parks and universities, which cover defined areas or specific routes.
“We are really excited at the opportunity to partner with bp ventures, which shares many of the same values that Freebee seeks to spread in our communities each day. Our goal is to accelerate our growth and continue executing our mission of providing equitable and accessible transportation, which in turn helps drive economic development and stimulates the local economies,” said Jason Spiegel, Freebee’s co-founder and managing partner, in a statement.
After graduating from the University of Miami with business management degrees and working in a few sales jobs, Spiegel and his co-founder Kristopher Kimball took the entrepreneurial plunge and started Freebee in 2012. “The mix of creativity, fun and the overhanging theme of a better, greener tomorrow were the elements that drove us to pull the trigger on Freebee,” said Spiegel in a 2016 Miami Herald story. “We always had it in our minds that we would create something special.”
The co-founders started out back then with six open-air vehicles.
Today, Freebee now owns a fleet of more than 150 electric vehicles and employs more than 230 drivers. The service is currently available in 24 Florida cities and Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Freebee plans to soon expand into three more South Florida cities — Bay Harbor Islands, Bal Harbour Village and Hallandale. In all, Freebee plans to expand into seven new cities in the two states before the end of 2022. The expansion is expected to help the business move over 1 million passengers by the end of the year, the company said.
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