Six years ago, Manuel and Geiszel Godoy were looking to fill a need for their daughter and children like her. But they ended up exceeding those expectations.
Mr. and Mrs. Godoy, owners of Delaware-based Black Sands Entertainment, couldn’t find children’s books and comics that depicted their family and its black heritage.
They realized how such representation is still something the entertainment industry struggles with. While there are a few examples — such as “Black Panther” — black characters, directors, and content creators remain a minority in the entertainment world and face additional challenges while trying to make it happen.
So the Godoys started their business as a way to diversify the field, introducing black characters and storylines into their comics.
“We saw a fair need to make stories about African history before slavery. We wanted to connect with that aspect because it’s never really been said before. So we focus on all the different countries in Africa and other indigenous groups as well,” said Ms Godoy, whose company books also span Inca and Malaysian cultures.
They started Black Sands to tell stories of strong black characters set in the early days of history before colonization. Established in 2016, their empire has grown to 25 titles. The most popular series is “Black Sands”, about important black pharaohs and their families in and around ancient Egypt.
To continue their journey of telling these stories in a spirited and comprehensive way, the couple, both Army veterans, won $500,000 on the ABC show “Shark Tank” via actor/comedian Kevin Hart and Mark Cuban, during a show aired in January.
Earlier this month, Mr. Hart’s global media company, Hartbeat, officially closed the deal with Black Sands Entertainment.
As part of this partnership, Hartbeat will offer consulting services to accelerate Black Sands’ efforts, particularly in film and television. Hartbeat and Black Sands are already in development on an animated feature film and series around the flagship “Black Sands” franchise.
“As soon as Manuel, Geiszel and the team at Black Sands Entertainment walked into ‘Tank’, I knew this was a business I wanted to bring into my ecosystem,” Hart said in a statement.
“The Black Sands team was looking for a partner with the resources to grow their cast, grow their production, source new creative talent, and promote their current and future content portfolio – these are all core areas of Hartbeat’s business. I’m so glad our team can help Black Sands grow and continue to share their unique stories with audiences around the world.
The deal follows Mr. and Mrs. Godoy’s successful Kickstarter campaign, which hit its $10,000 goal in one minute and raised $100,000 in one day. Black Sands has sold 200,000 print copies of its comics, which has generated $2 million in sales since its inception.
Besides their military backgrounds – Mr. Godoy was a radar technician and Ms. Godoy worked in human resources – both have an interest in art.
“I went to fashion design school in California and have a bachelor’s degree in fashion design. I worked with Calvin Klein designing for them. …And my husband went to college to design video games. So he’s also an artist,” Ms. Godoy said.
In addition, the two have participated in the writing of many books.
Ms. Godoy, who serves as the company’s chief financial officer, said she was very surprised at the company’s success.
“I thought I was going to keep doing fashion forever,” she said.
But, looking 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 name from Godoy to Jefferson just because of their market research. And I’m like, ‘That’s kind of a stupid thing. .’ »
Ms. Godoy agreed.
“My last name is Godoy. This is my son and my daughter. I wrote about them in the book, and they wanted me to change the names. My kids love that I incorporate them into our stories,” she said.
In the “reservoir”
The decision to continue “Shark Tank” was made for several reasons.
“We wanted exposure, and we wanted to grow and scale the business, to take our business to the next level because there’s so much paperwork involved,” Ms. Godoy said.
However, appearing on the show was a difficult task.
“They don’t play games. They want to know your whole story. They do their due diligence. They want to know about your credit history of your business, the health of your business. They want to see all your documents related to your business. It’s a very, very, very difficult process. And they were telling us during this process, a lot of people get cut, and they don’t make it,” Ms. Godoy said.
They appeared on “Shark Tank”, which was recorded in the summer of 2021 and released on January 7, with their studio head, Teunis De Raat.
They came asking for $500,000 for a 5% stake in their business, but settled for an offer from Mr. Hart and Mr. Cuban of $500,000 for 30%. The actor would handle the entertainment part and Mr. Cuban the technical side of things.
Mr. Godoy shared his excitement for the future of Black Sands with his new investors.
“They put their name out there with us. And now that it’s happened, we can actually start making real commercial games on the animation production side. We have it there. Everything is public. Everything is ready to go. And that alone allows us to seek out key voice actors, animation studios and stuff like that, where we couldn’t do that before,” he said.
In addition to looking to expand into animation, Black Sands has launched an app to help black creators reach a wider audience and a podcast to share the secrets of independent publishing success.
The Godoys said they would also like to bring their books to more schools. They have a few Southern states on board but aim to expand further, with Delaware being the leader in those areas.
“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), until we get very wide distribution in those places. We’ve really done a lot of work to make sure we have the books available for those areas,” Godoy said.
For more information, visit blacksands.com.