PYMNTS recently spoke to our very own Rosy Khalife on how Surprise Ride has upended, and brought innovative change to the toy industry. See what Rosy had to say below, and check out the full article on PYMNTS here.
Warby Of X: Surprise Ride, The Warby Parker Of Toys
By PYMNTS January 19, 2017
It seems as though children are stuck like glue to digital devices. Many parents admit it. They say, “We didn’t grow up that way,” but they aren’t sure how to pull their kids away from those screens.
Surprise Ride has an idea. Send the child a monthly subscription box packed with activities, games and projects — both educational and pure fun — that will have them playing and learning in the real world. The Washington, D.C.-based company is headed up by two sisters, Rosy and Donna Khalife, who said it wasn’t until later in life that they discovered that not every child has a crafty parent. Luckily for them, their father is a full-time artist who taught them many things about art, innovation and creativity, and now, the two sisters have shared that with the world.
For as little as $24 per month, a special personalized box will arrive at the child’s home ready to entertain and teach. There is a subscription — six or 12 months — or the option for a single box. Surprise Ride has been favored by thousands of families and even caught the eye of Kevin O’Leary on ABC’s show “Shark Tank.” The company was featured first in the typical pitch format on the show but then also, months later, when fans wrote in wondering what happened to the sisters and their company.
Rosy Khalife, chief operating officer and cofounder of Surprise Ride, spoke to PYMNTS about the founding of the company, what is was like on “Shark Tank” and what’s next as the company expands and puts more smiles on children’s — and parents’ — faces.
PYMNTS: So, tell us, what is the overview of Surprise Ride?
RK: We create activities that get kids to put away the iPad and play with things in the real world. Every month, activities, games, books, acts and whatnot all come delivered in one package to the child. It’s addressed in their name because kids love to receive mail. Each month, it’s focused around a certain theme that’s educational. One month, the child can be learning about volcanoes — building a volcano to make it erupt and really diving deep into that world — and the next month, they’ll be learning about Picasso, and they’ll do an activity about Picasso and learn about his life. Every month, it’s a different theme, and it’s always educational, and it’s always fun for the child.
It’s really meant to get them to do things in the real world with their hands — tactile learning and hands-on learning. Kids these days are doing a lot more digital and screen time, and they’re just growing up very different than how kids grew up, say, 10 years ago, 20 years ago. So, we’re trying to get back to that in having them do things that are in the real world.
PYMNTS: You and your sister founded the company. How did you come up with this?
RK: My sister and I started the company, really, because we were inspired by our own childhood.
Our dad is a full-time artist — and still is — and is very, very talented. Growing up, we had a different childhood than kids, which we later found out. We always assumed that kids everywhere had a “crafty parent” at home, and we later learned that that wasn’t the case. We did experiments with him. He was very innovative even in his way of doing art. So, we are always kind of helping him with his projects at home. That really influenced the way that our outlook was growing up and influenced us as people.
Now, we have two nephews — we have a third sister — and we realized that how we grew up is not how kids grow up now. They don’t always have an artist at home who can really facilitate these types of projects. So, we started Surprise Ride as a way to do that for kids that is educational and fun. It usually utilizes the left and the right brain, and it’s delivered to them easily so parents don’t have to run out to the craft store or spend hours on Pinterest trying to come up with these activities.
PYMNTS: How much does it cost per month?
RK: It’s $24 a month, and we have a couple of different plans. There’s a monthly plan, a six-month plan and a 12-month plan. And for folks who just want to try the product out or just send it for a birthday gift, there is a one-time box that they can purchase.
PYMNTS: Can you share about how many customers you have?
RK: We have thousands of users across all 50 states, and we have plans to roll out into Canada.
PYMNTS: Have you gotten external funding?
RK: We have. We’ve raised $2.5 million from an investor named Irwin Jacobs, the founder of Qualcomm. We are lucky to have him as an investor. And another investor of ours is Kevin O’Leary from “Shark Tank.”
PYMNTS: What can you share about the experience on “Shark Tank?”
People are always interested, and they asked us a lot about our experience on “Shark Tank.”
Our experience has kind of been a more unconventional one. We were part of an accelerator program when we first started the company. Part of that, they would tell us every day, you’re supposed to try 10 ways in terms of marketing. Every day, we would sit there and try to brainstorm how we are going to grow this company. And some of our ideas are more wacky than others.
One day, we added on there: go on “Shark Tank.” We thought that was super farfetched and super difficult, but we ended up emailing one of the producers — just cold emailing him about our company, our story and that we love the show. He ended up emailing back right away about jumping on a call right away. We had spent all this time writing this email that we had no clue that he would want to have a call with us right away. But we had a call with him, and he wanted us to send him a video of us “speaking to the sharks” like how we would pitch on the show.
So, we scramble to make that happen. We sent him samples of our product. Long story short, but we did this in a way that was a little bit more unconventional: We didn’t go to a casting call. That’s what a lot of people do.
We got teamed up with producers that perfected our pitch. Then, we got flown out to Los Angeles. Then, we did a dress rehearsal, which they still cut people then and we didn’t know that. Then, we pitched in front of the executive producers, the “big dogs” of the show. And they still cut people then. It’s a very intense process. And you have to not take it personally because it is so long in the making.
Even though they condense it down to a 10-minute segment, we were actually in there with the sharks for over an hour. We were most happy about the fact that they loved our product. They really respected what we are doing.
The segment aired a couple of months later, and we were just continuing the business just as it was and continuing growing. We got such an amazing response from people who watch the show. People want to give us their time in wanting to help us in any way that they could help us. And it was just a humbling experience.
And then, ABC reached back out to us at some point, telling us that they’ve been hearing from fans that that they want to know what happened to the girls that were on the show: ‘The sisters, what are they doing now?” They asked if they could come back and film what it’s like now.
We had moved into new offices, and the team had grown, and lots of things had happened. We were super excited about that. They came back and filmed, and we ended up getting a surprise visit from Kevin O’Leary. We really were surprised because we really had no idea he was coming. We actually thought it was our brother calling at first. When he came to the office, we ended up making a deal with him. And since then, we’ve been working with him as part of his portfolio.
PYMNTS: So, what’s next for Surprise Ride?
RK: One of the main reasons that people really love our product is that it allows the child to do something that isn’t on the iPad. It’s in the real world. So, continuing to think of other products that we can create that make the life for families easier. Creating more and more products that make parents’ lives easier is one thing that we’re super focused on.
Every year and every quarter, we try to set a goal for the company. This year, we’re super hyper-focused on growth so continuing to put Surprise Ride in places that you want to be.
PYMNTS: What does the Warby of X concept mean to you?
RK: When I think of Warby Parker, I think of a company that’s been super innovative in a space that unfortunately had not been remade in years and years and years. And that’s kind of what we think of us being in the toy space.
For as long as you can remember, it’s been about going to toy stores and picking out a toy for a child. And nothing’s changed. There’s now a focus on education and child development, which we very much think about it. And then, convenience. We will deliver the items right to your home. You don’t have to go to the store and pick it up.
So, when I think of Warby Parker, I think of mostly innovation and disrupting an industry that had been very long overdue to be disrupted. As it relates to Surprise Ride, I see that we’re doing that for the toy space. And I think there’s a very interesting correlation between the two.
Article written by PYMNTS
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Excited to have made it on the list of 2016 50 on Fire companies! Thanks for voting for Surprise Ride! We are constantly touched by all your support. We’re looking forward to 2017 and all the fun surprises we have coming your way!
Donna & Rosy
Are you looking for fun and creative indoor activities as the weather gets cooler? We’re here to help with our paw-fect puffy paint activity.
Your kids will create their own puffy paint and fluffy polar bear-inspired masterpieces with just a few ingredients that you’re sure to have at home. Click the parent and kid guides below for a grrrr-eat time as your kids learn what makes polar bears winter-ready all year round.
Our blender-free slushy activity is not only delicious, but also a great lesson in science. Wondering how it works? Well, salt changes the melting temperature of ice. When salt is added to the bag of ice surrounding a bag of liquid, the ice absorbs the heat from the liquid causing the liquid to freeze. In the Scientist Course, we tested this experiment by making a delicious all-natural Black Cherry Limeade slushy.
Did you know you can make your own ice cream by applying the same science you used for your slushy? The salt will still change the melting temperature of the ice, which cools down the ingredients in the inner bag. By changing up the ingredients you get an entirely different frozen treat. Mmmm!
To make any of the recipes listed below, follow these steps:
- Pour your mixed ingredients into a small plastic Ziploc bag. Seal firmly!
- Place your small bag into a larger plastic bag. Add at least 20 ice cubes to the large bag.
- Pour ½ cup of salt over ice. Seal the large plastic bag.
- Shake the bag for at least 10 minutes. Use a towel or gloves to protect your hands from the cold bag as you shake.
- When the liquid starts to turn into a solid, you know it’s ready! Remove the smaller bag and enjoy your delicious treat!
Homemade Vanilla or Chocolate Ice Cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 cup of cream or milk
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder
Dairy Free Ice Cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 cup milk or cream
- 1/4 teaspoon mint extract
- 1 small handful chocolate chips
Get creative! Here are some other possible add-ins: Coconut shavings, fruit puree or nuts.
Do you know of any other flavors or add-ins that work well with this yummy science trick? Post on our Facebook page and share your tricks with the Surprise Ride Family!
Not a fan of ice cream? Try our Surprise Ride Summer Slushy, meant to transport you to a warm, Summer day anytime of the year…
Surprise Ride “Summer” Slushy
- 1-2 tablespoons lemonade mix
- 3 strawberries chopped into small pieces
Surprise Ride is an innovative eCommerce company reinventing the way kids are growing up. Kids are spending an average of 7 hours a day glued to screens. Surprise Ride makes it easy for busy moms to give their kids educational offline activities. Surprise Ride is based in the heart of our nation, Washington, DC. The company was featured on the hit TV show Shark Tank and national media such as ABC, New York Times, The Washington Post, The View and NBC.
Surprise Ride is looking for a customer success guru to help keep our fast growing customer base happy. Our customers are the core of what we do here at Surprise Ride. We’re looking for a self-starter who isn’t afraid to go above and beyond for them.
• Create a positive and memorable customer experience by personalizing every interaction with subscribers and prospects via email, social media, phone, and live chat.
• Continuously look for ways to innovate and optimize our customer experience across different channels.
• Act as a community representative for the company. Beyond managing all customer interactions, you also oversee all social media channels and blog posts.
• Work closely with customer base to grow and retain subscribers and exceed quarterly renewal goals.
• Streamline existing processes and functions.
• Collaborate with members of cross-functional teams to make active contributions that help achieve team goals and successes.
• Identify and handle priority issues that need attention quickly and thoughtfully.
• Bachelor degree
• 2-4 years of customer service at B2B or B2C organizations
• Extremely strong communication skills, both verbal and written
• Excellent attention to detail and accuracy
• Proven ability to organize, prioritize, and complete multiple tasks
• Strong problem-solving skills
• Experience with conflict resolution in a customer service environment
• You are a rock star (not the musical kind, though we’d like that too!)
• You have a friendly personality and a go-getter attitude
• You love to laugh and have fun at work
• You are solution-oriented and love a good challenge
• You like to get the job done right even if that means going above-and-beyond
• You are a hard worker and are excited to join a start-up doing amazing things
• You thrive in a fast-paced environment
Compensation & Perks:
• Great compensation based on experience
• Full benefits, generous vacation policy, fun snacks and beverages
• You get to responsibly manage your schedule, as long as you’re meeting deadlines
Location: Washington, DC
Start date: immediately
HOW TO APPLY
Candidates should send a resume and a cover letter on why you would be a good fit for the position to [email protected]
It feels like it was yesterday when we walked through the doors of ABC’s Shark Tank. We’re recapping our whole experience in our latest video series, Thursdays with Donna and Rosy! If you missed our last episode, don’t worry, you can catch it here.
So what is it really like to take the Shark Tank journey? Press play to find out and check out our behind the scenes photos from our experience below.
The special Shark Tank Rides all ready to go. With extras, just in case!
This is when we arrived at LAX! We were waiting to get picked up by the Shark Tank squad
Our very own trailer on the set of Shark Tank. Wish we could have taken it home with us!
Sneak peak inside our awesome trailer and Rosy getting ready for the show.
All ready! Right before we left our trailer for the studio.
Did your little one have fun creating secret notes with last week’s Mirror Writing Technique? We had a lot of fun decoding them! Our last October bonus activity is perfect for all our budding artists.
In just three simple steps, your little ones will create a unique paint and use a painting technique dating back thousands of years. All you need are a few eggs, food coloring and painting materials. Let the creativity begin!
Leonardo da Vinci challenged himself to think outside the box in everything from his artwork to inventions, and even his note-taking! He used mirror writing – reversed writing that reads normally with a mirror – to record his notes, engage his mind and protect his ideas.
With just three things we guarantee you’ll have at home, your little ones will write secret messages and learn how to decode them, reimagining how we use everyday objects. Things aren’t always as they seem with the magic of mirror writing!
Ciao! This month we traveled back in time to learn about the life of a true genius and Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci. Our Riders crafted a propeller car as part of a fun engineering activity, and created their own interpretation of the famous Mona Lisa! From ingenious inventions, art masterpieces and scientific sketches, this Ride will inspire your little one to become just as curious as da Vinci!
Surprise Fact: Did you know that Leonardo da Vinci often wrote backwards? Most of his journal entries utilize a “mirror writing” technique, which means that you need to hold the page up to a mirror to read what it really says! #staycurious
Getting your little one to eat vegetables is no easy feat, and we’re here to help. We know, spinach in a smoothie…but with all the ingredients, your little one won’t even taste the spinach! So have your kiddo head to the kitchen. It’s time to make snack time fun, delicious and educational with this spinach-based smoothie recipe!
Make sure to check out our Parent Guide for ingredients, fun Leonardo da Vinci facts and the inside scoop on this activity, then give your little one the Kid Guide to get started!