Delaware’s Black Sands Entertainment gets boost from Hart, ‘Shark Tank’

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 those expectations.

Mr. and Mrs. Godoy, owners of Delaware-based Black Sands Entertainment, were unable to find children’s books and comics that represented their family and its black heritage.

They recognized how such representation is still something the entertainment industry struggles with. While there are some examples — such as “Black Panther” — black characters, directors and content creators remain a minority in the entertainment world and face additional struggles as they try to get there.

So the Godoys started their enterprise as a way to diversify the field, introducing black characters and stories in their comic books.

“We saw a need to just do stories about African history before slavery. We wanted to connect with that aspect because it’s never been said before. So we focus on all the different countries around Africa and other indigenous groups as well,” said Ms Godoy, whose company’s books also extend to Inca and Malaysian cultures.

They started Black Sands to tell stories of strong black characters set in those early days of history before colonization. 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 complete and animated 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 that was broadcast. in January.

Earlier this month, Mr. Hart’s global media company, Hartbeat, officially closed the deal with Black Sands Entertainment.

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As part of the partnership, Hartbeat will provide advisory services to accelerate Black Sands’ efforts, particularly in the area of ​​film and TV. Hartbeat and Black Sands are already in development on an animated film and a series around the main “Black Sands” franchise.

“The moment Manuel, Geiszel and the team at Black Sands Entertainment came on board with ‘Tank,’ I knew this was a company I wanted to bring into my ecosystem,” Mr. Hart said 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 promote their current and future content portfolio – these are all areas of Hartbeat’s core business. I am very excited that our team will be able to 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 reached its $10,000 goal in a minute and raised $100,000 in a day. Black Sands has sold 200,000 copies of its comic books, resulting in $2 million in sales since its inception.

In addition to their military backgrounds – Mr Godoy was a radar technician and Mrs Godoy worked in human resources – both have an interest in art.

“I went to fashion design school in California and I have a degree 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,” Ms. Godoy said.

In addition, both have had a hand in writing many of the books.

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Ms. Godoy, who serves as the company’s chief financial officer, said she is very surprised by the company’s success.

“I thought I was going to be in 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’re writing novels and stuff, you have to go to the big dogs and they want to change everything,” said Mr. Godoy, Black Sands’ CEO.

“I remember trying to publish 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.'”

Mrs. Godoy agreed.

“My last name is Godoy. It’s about my son and daughter. I wrote about them in the book and they wanted me to change the names. My kids love me including them in our stories,” she said.

In ‘Tank’

The decision to go on “Shark Tank” was made for several reasons.

“We wanted exposure and we wanted to grow and expand the company, to take our company to the next level because there is so much red tape 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 your company’s credit report, the health of your company. They want to see all your documents related to your company. It’s a very, very, very difficult process. And they were telling us during that process, a lot of people are waiting and they don’t make it,” Ms. Godoy said.

They appeared on Shark Tank, which was taped in the summer of 2021 and aired on January 7, with their studio head, Teunis De Raat.

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They came in asking $500,000 for a 5% stake in their company, but accepted an offer from Mr. Hart and Mr. Cuban of $500,000 for 30%. The actor would handle the entertainment part and Mr. Cuban would handle the technical side of things.

Mr. Godoy shared his enthusiasm for the future of Black Sands with the new investors.

“They’re putting their name out there with us. And now that that’s happened, we can start making some real business plays on the animation production side. We have it there. It’s all public. It’s all ready to go. And that alone allows us to go after the main voice actors, go after the animation studios and things like that, when we couldn’t do that before,” he said.


Along with looking to grow in animation, Black Sands has launched an app to help black creators reach larger audiences and a podcast to share the secrets of indie publishing success.

The Godoys said they would like to bring their books to even more schools. They have several southern states on board, but are looking to expand further, with Delaware chief among those regions.

“That’s one of the biggest things we’re focusing on right now. We are currently trying to get into New York and the DC area (schools), as we have a very wide distribution in those places. We’ve really done a lot of work to make sure we have books available for those areas,” Mr Godoy said.

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