DC’s Surprise Ride Accepts Deal from Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary

March 24, 2016

10:12 am

For one DC startup, the past year has been quite an adventure. Surprise Ride, a fast-growing e-commerce site for kids, was recently featured in an episode of  Shark Tank spinoff Beyond the Tank. They ended up walking out of the experience with a $50,000 investment from Shark Kevin O’Leary.

Surprise Ride was founded by the sister team of Donna and Rosy Khalife. They grew up in a family of six living in a one-bedroom apartment. Knowing that, it’s not much of a stretch to imagine why they decided to focus their energies on building a company that delivers hands-on activities to kids. In today’s world of over-worked parents and screen-obsessed kids, Surprise Ride is making it easy for parents to provide their kids with educational and engaging activities that keep them engaged and away from the iPad.

It’s been over two years since they were featured on Shark Tank and walked away without a deal (despite an offer from Shark Robert Herjavec). However, they made Shark Tank history by being the first company to which a Shark returned and made an investment offer. O’Leary was surprised to find out that Surprise Ride had surpassed their $500K projections, and in fact, doubled them, generating $1M in revenue. O’Leary offered them a $50,000 investment in return for a 2.5 percent stake in the company.

“I like what they’ve done so far. I’m gonna pour gasoline on this fire and get this to 10 million in sales.” Said Kevin O’Leary in a statement about now owning a piece of Surprise Ride.

We all know how TV works, and while the episode plays it off as if the sisters had no idea what was happening, they probably had an inkling that it would end in good news. And with O’Leary’s background in educational software, he will likely be a huge asset to Surprise Ride’s business, and particularly their marketing efforts (which they admit is a challenge).

“We’re thrilled to have Kevin aboard the ride. For us, having him onboard is about more than the investment. His passion for kids was obvious and he immediately got our product. His experience in the kids’ education space, having sold his company to Mattel, makes him a key adviser as we grow.” Says CEO Donna Khalife in a statement.

It will be interesting to follow Surprise Ride and see how this high profile investment impacts them as they grow.

Image courtesy of Surprise Ride’s blog.


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Kristin is an aspiring entrepreneur who is enthusiastically navigating her way through the DC startup space. She has an unending passion for learning and is never satisfied with the status quo. During the day she is an ops, biz dev, and marketing maven for Fission Strategy