Surprise Ride Walks the Plank

The Washington Post
By: Steven Overly
Published on November 10, 2013

It all began with bored nephews.

Sisters Donna and Rosy Khalife were looking for ways to entertain their young relatives when a business idea hit them: Parents of young children might pay to receive a box each month that contains an activity designed to “spark their curiosity about the world and their creativity.”

Now the pair will bring Surprise Ride , the District-based company they started in May, to your living room when they compete on “Shark Tank” this Friday at 9 p.m. The ABC show gives entrepreneurs a chance to pitch their ideas to deep-pocketed investors who might cut a life-changing check.

“It’s been a long process filled with a lot of hard work and uncertainty, I would say, and every step of the way your expectations are constantly managed,” said Donna Khalife, 29, a Harvard Business School graduate.

“Surprisingly, once you’re in front of those sharks, it feels like a real investor meeting,” she added. “You forget that there’s cameras rolling and everything you say is being recorded.”

The Khalife sisters were selected among thousands of applicants to fly to Los Angeles to tape an episode of the show. Though they already know the outcome, the sisters can’t reveal any spoilers until Friday night.

“Now with this air date, we’re kind of prepping in a different way, getting ready to expect people to come to our Web site and a surge in orders,” said Rosy Khalife, 22.

Surprise Ride counts 250 monthly subscribers to date. A monthly subscription costs $29.99, including shipping. Rates are also available for three-, six- and 12-month subscribers.

Last month’s photography-themed box included a book on photography, a disposable camera and scavenger hunt, a picture frame to decorate and a cyanotype photography kit.

A growing number of companies with a similar business model are cropping up, offering monthly subscriptions for boxes stuffed with cosmetics, dog supplies, handicrafts, men’s apparel and other items.

See the article here.

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