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Liberty’s rural Uber expands operations in Texas, Ohio

Logo credit: Erin Skoog.

Last July, SPN profiled Liberty, a Lincoln-based rideshare company that was going through the NMotion Accelerator. We caught up with President & CEO Valerie Lefler to see what’s happened with the company since then.

“We’re actually moving offices today,” she said. “Our company is growing, and we’re expanding from 2,000 to 6,000 square feet.”

The new space will provide room for a call center, which is an essential piece for rural customers who may not have access to (or don’t want to use) the Liberty smart phone app.

“We’re opening our call center as part of the expansion,” Lefler said. “We’re very excited to launch that aspect of our service. Our CTO Shashank Gajjala has been working day and night with our local and offshore software and tech team to create this amazing framework that makes Liberty possible.”

The company also recently hired an operations director, and has brought Mac Rodgers onto the team as a co-founder.

“He was President of Experian Marketing Solutions and brings tremendous expertise,” Lefler said. “We’re getting ready for some massive new projects, and his leadership will help us scale up effectively so we can exceed our customer’s expectations.”

Liberty brings an Uber-like concept of ridesharing to provide services primarily in rural areas. They are awaiting approval from the Public Service Commission to begin operations in western Nebraska.

“We’re on hold until that application is approved, but we’re still moving forward within the limits of the regulations,” Lefler said. “We’ve secured an office in Scottsbluff and have drivers pretty much ready to go.”

Going national

Partnerships are key to success, since Liberty intends to supplement rather than compete with other existing transportation providers by filling gaps in service. It’s also a significant driver of the company’s expansion.

“We now have authority to operate in Ohio,” Lefler said. “We’re working with the University of Ohio and other partners across the state to launch.”

Lefler said the university partnership has been invaluable and has allowed Liberty to learn about some of the challenges facing Ohio, such as the high infant mortality and opiate abuse in the state’s Appalachian region.

“We’ve been to Ohio three times, and it’s apparent to me how much families and communities are affected by the opiate outbreak,” she said. “Our company is dedicated to improving health in rural communities, and there is a lot of opportunity to have an impact in addressing this tragic challenge.”

Progress also continues in the Corpus Christi, Texas area.

“We’re having a kickoff event with the Coastal Bend Center for Independent Living and Texas Department of Transportation on January 19th to meet with our key stakeholders,” Lefler said. “Our goal is to get everybody together and put the moving pieces in place.”

The network of partners also helps Liberty with outreach in communities they serve.

“We’re planning focus groups to help identify overarching needs in the region,” Lefler said. “Connecting with stakeholders and customers helps identify the highest need sectors of the population so we can have the most immediate impact. We’re excited and honored to be able to help improve the quality of life for those with mobility needs.”

Making news

Media attention has also grown for Liberty. Lefler did a radio interview with KCBS in San Francisco, and the company was profiled in The Atlantic.

“We were also featured on a podcast called Spectrum at the University of Ohio, run by the College of Communications,” Lefler said. “It was a tremendous opportunity to visit with the University, and we look forward to a continued partnership.”

Going forward, Liberty continues to explore opportunities throughout the country.

“We have partnerships in progress that are creating launch locations in several other states that will be incredible,” Lefler said. “We’re always looking for ways to connect and expand our impact in communities.”

Rod Armstrong is Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for AIM in Lincoln, Nebraska. He is a regular contributor to Silicon Prairie News.

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