From Nick Barron. Follow him on Twitter @nbarron; email him at nick[AT]borderstan.com.
If you’ve tried to entertain kids, you know learning to perform heart surgery in the dark with a hand tied behind your back may be easier.
Now there’s a DC-based startup, SurpriseRide, that wants to help adults keep kids entertained while teaching the little tikes.
“SurpriseRide sends 7- to 12-year-old kids fun activities in the mail every month,” said Donna Khalife, who founded the company with her sister, Rosy. “Activities are theme-based and cover a wide variety of subjects, from art and history to science and technology.”
Each package, or “Ride” comes with an activity, a challenge and some extras. The activity tends to be instruction based, like building a birdhouse, and the challenge more flexible, like “build a replacement to the rubber ducky bath toy,” according to SurpriseRide’s website.
Rides come in the mail with all the supplies kids need to complete the activity and challenge. And the company is seeing growth not just from parents. “Right now, we have a mix of parents, aunts, uncles, and older cousins,” Khalife said. “Buying the right gift for kids in this age group can be difficult and we’re finding that people take solace in gifting a SurpriseRide subscription.”
The inspiration for SurpriseRide came from the Khalife’s childhood experience of having no video games or expensive toys, and an artist father with a studio filled with supplies for them to use to create and experiment. Another spark that ignited the SurpriseRide fire was the Khalife’s experiences as aunts.
“We realized that our two nephews, like many other kids, have two full-time working parents,” Khalife said. “We wanted to help kids evolve through play, much like we did, and bring these educational and fun activities to the houses of busy parents everywhere.”
Early indications are that the Khalife’s are filling a need. Within an hour of taking their site live just to test and make sure it worked correctly, they received their first order.
“It was a real person that none of us knew,” Khalife said. “We hadn’t notified any friends or family yet, so I stared at the email for a good few minutes, wondering what kind of glitch was going on in the system. I did some digging and then realized it was actually our first order.”
Right now SurpriseRide is participating in a three-month accelerator in Providence called Betaspring, but Khalife plans on keeping the company based in DC.