What’s it like to have Kevin O’Leary on your team?

The Small Business Journal recently spoke to our very own Donna Khalife on what it’s like to have Kevin O’Leary on board. See what Donna had to say below, and check out the full article on The Small Business Journal here.


Being The CEO of Your Company and Having Kevin O’Leary on Your Team

By The Small Business Journal – May 25, 2017

Surprise Ride designs activity kits and toys aimed at keeping elementary school aged kids entertained away from screens. The company was founded in 2013 by sisters Donna and Rosy Khalife. The women wanted to find a way to give moms a break but also keep kids away from screen time. Their idea was inspired by the DIY activities their dad would make for them as kids. Surprise Ride was featured on Season 5 Episode 9 of Shark Tank where the Khalife sisters turned down offers from the Sharks but later accepted a surprise offer from Kevin O’Leary on an episode of Beyond The Tank. I recently caught up with Donna Khalife, the Co-Founder and CEO of Surprise Ride. She talked to me about what her day-to-day currently looks like at the company, how to deal with burnout, and her work-crush on Sheryl Sandberg, among other things.

Jay: So what’s it like at your position now with Surprise Ride what is it like on a daily basis for you?

Donna: Right now it’s really about reaching more people and reaching more families. I spend a lot of my time on growth, dreaming up partnerships that could be mutually beneficial and also thinking about what type of hires we need to make to be able to support our growth.

Jay: What role does Kevin O’Leary play at Surprise Ride? Is he pretty hands-off as an investor or does he play a more active advisor role?

Donna: There are two things we love about having Kevin on our team. First, he is a brilliant entrepreneur. It’s wonderful — pun intended — to work with an investor who is not just financially minded but also has experience with operations. I was on a call with him yesterday and I had a very real operational question and I knew that there would be no one that could answer it better than Kevin. Because he’s been there and he can speak from his personal experience. The second thing is, he is just a good person. He really embodies the values of Shark Tank, encouraging and empowering people to be entrepreneurs, to create jobs, to create products that consumers can love and enjoy.

Jay:  There’s a tremendous value that investors like Kevin bring, as you mentioned, but there’s so much work that you guys do that he trusts you to execute. So, how do you find that balance between what’s on your shoulders and what you can ask of him?

Donna: It’s a balance for sure, but the bulk of it is on our shoulders, it’s really not half-and-half. It’s more like  95-to-5 or 98-to-2. Having mentors like Mr. Wonderful is really all about helping you fill in the gaps and get guidance more than anything but you have to ask the right questions for it to be fruitful. That relationship can not carry you: you really have to carry yourself.

Jay: What’s been the happiest or most awesome piece of feedback that you’ve ever gotten from your customers?

Donna: One thing that really stuck with me was a question from a little girl named Sophie. she asked  us, “from the thousands of questions that you could be covering in your Surprise Ride kits, how do you choose the themes?” This was an amazing question because adults often ask us things like, “don’t you think you’ll run out of topics to cover? Is this sustainable?” Children really see the world in this very curious way and they’re trying to absorb as much learning as possible. And they’ve got that thirst for learning. Sophie’s question reminded me why we do what we do: to feed children’s curiosities, to get them off of screens and get them fascinated with the real world.

Jay:  If you got stuck in a window seat on a three-hour flight and you could choose anyone in the world to sit next to and pick their brain who would that person be and what would you ask them?

Donna: If I could go back in time I’d probably pick Albert Einstein. Learning to see the world with that childlike wonder is something that I think more and more adults need to do and that’s one of the things that we try to foster through our activity kits for kids,  just nurturing that curiosity. I think that’s something that Albert Einstein really embodied. Today, if I had the honor to sit next to someone, I would probably pick Sheryl Sandberg the COO of Facebook. She’s an amazing human being and woman in the workplace, (where are all my #LeanIn ladies?).  There’s so much I could learn just chatting with her both on a professional and a personal level.

Jay: What advice can you offer to budding entrepreneurs?

Donna: Don’t forget to have fun! I wish I had more fun when we first started the company. When we first came up with the concept I had a blast but once we launched it things just got stressful. As the owner of a business it’s easy find yourself lost in the weeds worrying about every detail can be very stressful and really keep you up at night, which is an easy way to burn out and I think I got close to that at one point and when you get close to burnout it really doesn’t serve anyone, it doesn’t serve your company it doesn’t serve your customers, your employees or yourself. So I think I would just remind anyone who is launching a company to take breaks, have fun, celebrate the victories don’t feel like this is the end all be all, give it the best shot and see where the journey takes you.

Article written by The Small Business Journal


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Behind the Scenes: Surprise Ride on Shark Tank

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!

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This is when we arrived at LAX! We were waiting to get picked up by the Shark Tank squad
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Our very own trailer on the set of Shark Tank. Wish we could have taken it home with us!

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Sneak peak inside our awesome trailer and Rosy getting ready for the show.
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All ready! Right before we left our trailer for the studio.
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China Activities Week 3: Build the Great Wall of China

Did you enjoy building your own Chinese dragon last week? We had a lot of fun with our dragon, Felix.

We’re wrapping up our China course with an exciting engineering activity that’s perfect for the aspiring architects out there. All you need is some glue, cardboard and sugar cubes – yup, sugar cubes! It may have taken hundreds of years to build the Great Wall of China, but it’ll only take your kiddos a little over an hour.

Make sure to share photos on and . Start snapping!

sugar-wall

 

Get Building: Instructions + Parent Guide

If you missed any of our China activities, no worries! Click the links below for even more offline fun and learning.

Week 1: Make your own Homemade Ice Cream Recipe
Week 2: Build your own Chinese Dragon

Let’s Get Crafty: Piggy Banks

Our new friend, Oscar!

 

A penny earned is a penny saved!! This week at Surprise Ride, we got crafty and created our own piggy bank. Make your own today and save up for a rainy day!

  • Empty plastic beverage bottle (the wider, the better!)
  • Light pink, dark pink and white felt
  • Pink construction paper
  • Clay or play dough
  • Glue
  • Silver paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Marker

PREP:
Peel label off a clean, empty plastic beverage bottle.

BODY:
Wrap white felt around bottle and glue. Paint white felt with silver paint. Once it dries, wrap a strip of pink paper around the middle of the felt.

EYES:
Cut out two equal-sized ovals and glue onto the bottle. Draw a smaller in the center of each of the larger ovals.

FEET:
Using clay or play dough, roll 4 balls of 1-inch diameter. Glue balls onto the bottom of the bottle. Once glue dries, squish the balls into the bottle so the bottoms are flat.

EARS:
On the pink colored construction paper, draw two equal-sized ears. At the bottom of the ears, draw a rectangle (this will help your ears stick on). Glue ears down by the rectangles (see diagram below).

NOSE:
Cut out a circle in pink felt that is slightly larger than the bottle’s opening. Cut a slit in the middle (this is where you will put your coins!) and glue onto the bottle’s opening. Cut two smaller circles in a different pink felt and place onto the nose – these are the “nostrils” (oink oink!).

Once you’re finished, name your little friend and fill him up with lots of coins! (We named ours Oscar!) Want to know how to make money to put in your new piggy bank? Start a lemonade stand or put up a bake sale! You’re never too young to become a #kidboss. Learn more about becoming a young entrepreneur with our Kid Boss box!

Mango Salsa

The Summer Olympics kick off today in beautiful Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – home to beautiful beaches, accomplished soccer players, and lush rainforests with plentiful fruits and vegetables…including MANGOES! Today, we’re making mango salsa, inspired by the spirit of Brazil. Check out the recipe below!

Ingredients:

  • 2 mangoes, diced
  • 1 ½ roma tomatoes, diced
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Salt, to taste

Makes 2 cups

Recipe:

  1. In a serving bowl, combine the first four ingredients. Top with lime juice and mix well. Season with salt to taste. For best flavor, let salsa rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Serve your salsa with chips for a light snack or over chicken, rice, and beans for a well-balanced Brazilian-inspired meal! Want to learn more about this vibrant country? CHECK OUT our Brazil box today!

 

Fresh Fruit Popsicles

Skyrocketing temperatures has us all longing for something to keep us cool and refreshed! Here at Surprise Ride, we made it our mission to find the perfect Summer snack that was tasty, healthy and kept us feeling cool. After much experimentation, we came up with the perfect recipe for fresh fruit popsicles. They’re healthy, refreshing, and as fun to make as they are to eat. Check out the recipe below!

Ingredients:

  • 1 peach – sliced
  • 2 kiwis – sliced
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ¾ cup strawberries – halved
  • ½ cup raspberries
  • 2 cups white grape juice

Recipe:

  1. Place chopped fruit inside popsicle molds.
  2. Fill molds with juice.
  3. Insert popsicle sticks and freeze until solid (about 6 to 8 hours)

Serves 10.

SURPRISE FACT: Did you know that In 1905, 11-year-old Frank Epperson mixed a drink with a stick and accidentally left the glass outside? After a cold night, he came back to find it frozen and that’s how the first popsicle was born! Learn more about Frank and other #kidentrepreneurs with our Kid Boss Ride!

10 Must Things to Do in Brazil

July’s Ride has us dreaming about exploring the awesome country of Brazil. We came up with the best-of-the best to see, do, and experience if you find yourself jonesing for a Brazilian stamp on your passport. Check it out below!

1. Play beach volleyball at Ipanema or Copacabana

Located side-by-side in Rio de Janeiro, Ipanema and Copacabana are two of the most popular beaches in the world! Catch some waves or play beach volleyball with the locals here.

2. Dance at Carnival

Carnival in Rio is the biggest and most famous festival in the world. About 2 million people celebrate with parades, dancing, street carnivals, and samba music every year.

3. Visit Iguazu Falls

Iguazu is the largest system of waterfalls in the world, and sits right between Brazil and Argentina. Devil’s Throat, the largest of the falls, stands at a whopping 269 feet!

4. Walk up the Escadaria Selarón

Chilean artist Jorge Selarón dedicated his life to creating these amazing stairs. They are covered in over 2000 titles collected from over 60 countries around the world!

5. Head to the São Paulo Museum of Art

This museum holds the largest collection of Western art in Latin America, featuring pieces by Botticelli, Van Gogh, and Diego Velazquez.

6. Stroll through Ibirapuera Park

Some say Ibirapuera is comparable to New York City’s Central Park and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. With a museum, a music hall, and plenty of outdoor activities, it is an important landmark of São Paulo’s cultural scene.

7. Journey through the Cathedral of Brasilia

The Cathedral of Brasilia doesn’t look like a traditional cathedral, but that’s exactly what modern artist Oscar Niemeyer wanted. The building’s exterior has 16 identical columns, representing two hands moving upwards to heaven.

8. Explore the Amazon

The Amazon is the largest rainforest in the world, with more than 10 million animal, plant, and insect species. There’s sure to be something here that you’ve never seen before!

9. Learn about the Brazilian Gold Rush at Ouro Preto

Pronounced oro-preeto, this town was the site of the Brazilian Gold Rush in the 18th century. With its historic buildings and cobblestone streets, Ouro Preto has unique charm and a whole lot of history.

10. Take in the view at Cristo Redentor

Also known as Christ the Redeemer, this statue is one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. At its base, you can see the entire city of Rio!

Can’t make it to Brazil but still want a piece of the action? Surprise Ride has your back. Purchase our Brazil box today!

Let’s Get Crafty: Block Art Edition

Happy Friday, Riders! Today we learned all about Piet Mondrian, a Dutch painter whose most famous work is Composition with Red, Yellow, and Blue. You may be thinking: how is this art? Well, Mondrian actually created a painting style called neo-plasticism and was the first to make a painting of this kind. He wanted to move away from the 3D forms and landscapes of that time period, toward something that focused on the paint itself and the concepts of line and color. Mondrian argued that neo-plasticism was more realistic than other paintings, which he said were “illusions”.

Check out how we recreated Mondrian’s work and added some of our own pizzazz, below:

Supplies:

  • Blank canvas
  • Masking tape
  • Red, yellow, blue, and black paints
  • Paint brush
  • Water dish

Directions:

1. Apply tape to the canvas in random patterns.

2. Wherever visible, paint your canvas.

3. Once dried, remove tapes. Hang it in your favorite spot or gift it to someone!

We’d love to see your take on this art project! How did you lay your tape? What colors did you use? Send us a picture of your masterpiece to photos@surpriseride.com or share them on our Facebook page.

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