Six years ago, Manuel and Geiszel Godoy were just looking to fill a need for their daughter and children like her. But they ended up exceeding expectations.
Mr. and Mrs. Godoy, owners of Delaware-based Black Sands Entertainment, could not find children’s books and comics that represented their family and Black heritage.
They understood how such representation is still something that the entertainment industry struggles with. Although there are a few examples – such as “Black Panther” – black characters, directors and content creators are still a minority in the entertainment world and face additional struggles as they try to do there
So the Godoys started their campaign as a way to diversify the range, by including Black characters and stories in their comic books.
“We saw the need to just make stories about African history before slavery. We wanted to connect with that aspect because it had never been told before. So we focus on all the different countries around Africa and other indigenous groups as well,” said Mrs Godoy, whose company books also extend to Incan and Malaysian cultures. .
They started Black Sands telling stories of strong black characters set in those early days of history before they landed. Founded in 2016, their empire has grown to 25 titles. The most popular series is “Black Sands,” about important black pharaohs and their families in ancient Egypt and the surrounding areas.
To further their journey to tell these stories in a fully animated way, the couple, both Army veterans, received $500,000 on the ABC show “Shark Tank” through actor/comedian Kevin Hart and Mark Cuban, during a broadcast performance. in January.
Earlier this month, Mr. Hart’s global media company Hartbeat formally closed the deal with Black Sands Entertainment.
As part of the partnership, Hartbeat will offer consulting services to accelerate Black Sands’ efforts, particularly in the film and TV space. Hartbeat and Black Sands are already in development on an animated feature and series around the main “Black Sands” franchise.
“The minute Manuel, Geiszel and the Black Sands Entertainment team walked into the ‘Tank,’ I knew this was a company I wanted to bring into my ecosystem,” said Mr. Hart in a statement.
“The Black Sands team was looking for a partner that has the resources to grow their distribution, expand their production, find new creative talent, and enhance their current and future content portfolio – all of which are areas of Hartbeat’s core business. I’m thrilled that our team can help Black Sands grow and continue to share its unique stories with audiences around the world.”
The deal follows a successful Kickstarter campaign by Mr. Black Sands has sold 200,000 printed copies of its comic books, making $2 million in sales since its inception.
In addition to their military background – Mr. Godoy was a radar technician, and Mrs. Godoy worked in human resources – both are interested in art.
“I went to a fashion design school in California and have a bachelor’s in fashion design. I worked with Calvin Klein designing for them. … And my husband went to college for video game design. So he is also an artist,” said Mrs. Godoy.
In addition, both have had a hand in writing many of the books.
Mrs. Godoy, who is the company’s chief financial officer, said that she is very surprised by the company’s success.
“I thought I was going to do fashion forever,” she said.
But, thinking back to the early days of Black Sands, she said going the independent route was the right move.
“Usually, when you write novels and stuff, you have to go to the big dogs, and they want to change everything,” said Mr. Godoy, CEO of Black Sands.
“I remember trying to pitch this really beautiful book, and they wanted to change the character’s name from Godoy to Jefferson just because of their market research. And I’m like, ‘That’s kind of stupid stuff.'”
Mrs. Godoy agreed.
“My last name is Godoy. It’s about my son and my daughter. I wrote about them in the book, and they wanted me to change the names. My children love me to include them in our stories,” she said.
in the ‘tank’
The decision to go on “Shark Tank” was made for a few reasons.
“We wanted exposure, and we wanted to grow and scale the company, to take our company to the next level because there is so much red tape involved,” said Mrs. Godoy.
However, appearing on the show was hard work.
“They don’t play games. They want to know your entire history. They do their due diligence. They want to know about your credit report about your company, the health of your company. They want to see all your documents related to your company. It is a very, very, very difficult process. And they were telling us during that process, that many people will be cut, and they don’t do it,” said Mrs. Godoy.
They appeared on “Shark Tank”, recorded in the summer of 2021 and broadcast on January 7, with the head of their studio, Teunis De Raat.
They came in asking for $500,000 for a 5% stake in their company but settled for an offer from Mr. Hart and Mr. Cuban of $500,000 for 30%. The actor would handle the entertainment portion, and Mr. Cuban the technical side of things.
Mr. Godoy shared his excitement about the future of Black Sands with his new investors.
“They’re putting their name out there with us. And now that that has happened, we can really start making real business plays on the animation production side. We have it out there. It’s all public. It’s all ready to go. And that alone allows us to go after lead voice actors, go after animation studios and stuff like that, when we couldn’t do that before,” he said.
Along with looking to expand into animation, Black Sands has launched an app to help Black creators reach a larger audience and a podcast to share secrets of indie publishing success.
The Godoys said they would also like to introduce their books to more schools. They have some Southern states on board but are aiming to expand further, with Delaware chief among those regions.
“That’s one of the big things we’re focusing on right now. We are currently trying to get into New York and the DC area (schools), as far as getting a wide distribution in those places. We really did a lot of work to make sure we have the books for these areas,” said Mr. Godoy.
For information, visit blacksands.com.