Millennial Week: Interview with Surprise Ride CEO Donna Khalife

5 Questions with Surprise Ride CEO Donna Khalife

How did you come up with the idea for Surprise Ride?

My sister and I were inspired to start Surprise Ride by memories of our childhood. We grew up with a dad who was a full-time artist and facilitated DIY projects. We realized that those projects shaped our view of the world. Millions of parents want their kids to enjoy those same experiences but are too busy to curate the projects and source all the necessary items. We make it easy for families to enjoy hands-on projects together, learn, and foster their creativity.

What has been your most exciting experience since launching?

Appearing on Shark Tank!

What is your best advice to a Millennial looking to launch a business ?

Create a timeline with realistic milestones. Start with a research phase where you make sure your idea can make money. Then, figure out how you will execute and bring it to life. Finally, set a deadline when you will take the leap, launch the company, and actually begin working in the real world. Surround yourself with other founders along the way to expedite your learning process and maximize your chances for success.

What was your most exciting experience on Shark Tank?

My most exciting experience in the Tank had to be arriving at our very own trailer on the Sony lot and seeing our company name printed on the outside! Not only did we feel like stars, but the company that we had worked so hard to get off the ground was also getting recognized. Your start-up becomes your baby so it was a special sight.

How did you finance your business and what was the process like?

We had very limited capital when we got started. We put $5k in a new business account to launch. I learned to code a bit and managed to put a not-so-pretty functional website together. We got our first customer when we were still just testing it! After that initial phase of proving that people are willing to buy this, perfecting the product experience, and working out the logistics of the operations, we applied for an accelerator program. It gave us a little more runway and a ton of mentorship. We then raised a small seed round and are now raising a larger round. I guess the overall message for us was baby steps. Along each step, we made sure we had progress to show. You can start a business with little capital, but nothing can replace the value of having a solid business education.

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