Surprise Ride, the District-based start-up that has been a favorite of TV coverage, is raising $2 million to take the company to the next level.
The company, a subscription service that delivers a monthly “surprise ride” box packed with fun educational projects, is founded by sisters Donna and Rosy Khalife.
The company, which moved into offices at Dupont Circle two months ago, has shipped more than 30,000 boxes to families across the United States since its May 2013 founding, and is nearing $1 million in sales, said Donna Khalife, 30.
“The concept is simple,” said Khalife. “Some of the greatest innovators in history, from Albert Einstein to Steve Jobs, attributed their success to being curious. Surprise Ride ... fosters intellectual curiosity and creativity in kids.”
The company got off the ground with help from a $600,000 investment from billionaire Irwin Jacobs, founder of tech-giant Qualcomm.
“I pitched him at a scholarship event,” said Khalife, who graduated from Harvard Business School and worked on Wall Street before starting her own company.
Khalife said the $2 million funding round, which just began, is intended to further expansion so the company can take advantage of the market for children’s gifts from parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.
We are going to continue to expand the team, invest in digital marketing and expand into new product lines,” Khalife said.
Surprise Ride, which has about 10 full- and part-timers at its headquarters, has already received lots of press, including ABC’s “Shark Tank” and “The View,” “Fox Business,” the New York Times and InStyle magazine.
Rosy Khalife, 23, handles the marketing end of the business. She graduated from Providence College and has experience in digital marketing.
Search Technologies, the Herndon-based company in the hot big data sector, is expanding more deeply into the European market with the acquisition of a Prague-based technology company.
The acquisition is slated to close any day. It will add $1 million to Search Technologies’s revenue of $25 million. It will also add about 20 staffers, bringing Search’s head count to 173.
Search declined to name the target company until a formal announcement.
“We are looking to significantly expand our technical presence in Europe via this Prague office in the same way that we have done in Costa Rica, which is a technical center of ours serving North America and Europe,” Search Technologies founder Kamran Khan said in an e-mail.
Khan said the company plans to open an office in central London next month, the company’s second in the United Kingdom.
Search Technologies currently employs 153, with 69 in the U.S., 62 at its technical training center in Costa Rica, and 22 between the U.K. and Germany.
The company likes Costa Rica because it’s less expensive than the United States and has a highly-educated workforce. Costa Rica also is the location of several big U.S. technology companies, including Amazon.com, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and consumer giant Procter & Gamble.
This isn’t its first acquisition for Search. In 2009, the company acquired a Midwest company called InfoSolutions.
Khan, 51, who started Search Technologies in 2005, said the company has more than 500 clients, including the National Archives, the Library of Congress, EMC and information publishers such as Reed Elsevier.
While in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum last week, David Rubenstein, the 65-year-old billionaire and Carlyle Group co-founder, likened the drop in oil price to a tax cut for Europeans during an interview with Bloomberg Television.
“Europe has to take advantage of it,” Rubenstein told his interviewer.
In other Carlyle news, real estate star Andrew Chung is leaving the firm to start his own real estate business. Chung’s resignation, reported earlier in Bisnow, took place just days after he was promoted to partner, which could have brought him millions from equity and bonuses. Chung worked for Carlyle real estate bigwig Robert G. Stuckey, longtime head of the firm’s U.S. real estate funds.
Chung has worked on more than $8 billion in U.S. real estate deals, including a 60-story luxury real estate building in Manhattan called Riverside Center and the sale in 2013 of 650 Madison Ave. to Crown Acquisitions and Highgate for $1.3 billion.