If you take a walk on Broadway in Soho on any weekend or during the day in the summer, you’ll see a bunch of children lined up waiting to get into one of New York’s hottest destinations. Sloomoo Institute is a slime-focused experiential destination that combines science and fun play.
The “Sloomoverse” features handcrafted, artisanal slime with refreshing perfume-grade scents and sounds that becomes a fully tactile and sensory experience not only for kids but also adults. The flagship Soho location offers an immersive 350-gallon slime lake, a slime wall, and a cave constructed from slime. Originally started as a popup, the three-year-old startup is expanding to bring the joy of slime nationwide with new permanent locations opening in Chicago and Atlanta later this year. Tickets for the Soho location start at $48 and the enhanced experience is $80; both tickets include a custom 8oz of slime. In addition to the experiential locations, Sloomoo Institute also offers slime for sale on its website for shipping nationwide.
AlleyWatch caught up with Sloomoo Institute Cofounders Karen Robinovitz and Sara Schiller to learn more about the business, the company’s strategic plans, latest round of funding, and much, much more…
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised $5.8M in Series A funding. Our raise was led by Nicole Shanahan with participation from Raptor Group, along with some other individuals including Randi Zuckerberg.
Tell us about the product or service that Sloomoo Institute offers.
Sloomoo Institute is an experiential destination that taps into the joy of multi-sensory play through hand-crafted, artisanal slime and #satisfying experiences. Our ticketed experiences offer a much-needed reprieve from the overwhelmingly digital nature of the modern world and instead, puts us in touch with the physical world and with ourselves.
What inspired the start of Sloomoo Institute?
With a shared love of slime and contemporary art – longtime friends Karen Robinovitz and Sara Schiller came together to imagine an experience that would make the benefits of sensory play accessible, elevated, and exciting. Karen founded the first talent management agency for digital influencers, is credited for pioneering the social media influencer market, and has written three books – but her life twisted and turned (as life does) with loss and grief, and she ultimately found herself off her phone, sitting in front of a tub of slime with her friend’s daughter, smiling and laughing for the first time in a long time. Sara Schiller is a serial entrepreneur and prolific art patron who has co-authored several books on uncommissioned art and street art. Sara’s daughter and husband have physical and cognitive disabilities that inspire her to create spaces that are as inclusive as possible, while also bringing the mental health benefits of sensory play to help aid in stress reduction and grief management.
How is Sloomoo Institute different?
Sloomoo Institute is unlike any other recreational experience. It immerses you in a transformative, slime-filled world via touch, sound, scent, and sight. Designed by contemporary artists and renowned architects to flow more like a gallery than a playground, the sophisticated space mixes science and magic and elevates the way we’ve traditionally thought about recreational design. Key features include a DIY bar that offers 60 scents (think dessert, fruit, floral, spa vibes, and more), 40 colors and 150 charms to make over four million slime creations, dozens of vats of slime to dip your hands into, “Sloomoo Falls” where visitors can stand under a waterfall of slime, “Lake Sloomoo” which provides 350 gallons of slime to walk on after alcohol-wiping your feet, a Yayoi Kusama Obliteration Room-inspired “Slime & Repeat Wall,” Kinetic Sand® “Doons”, ASMR experiences, soundscapes, scent exploration, immersive videos, AR surprises and more.
Sloomoo Institute is also proud to be radically inclusive. We are committed to creating a welcoming space inclusive for all – perfect for family outings but also just as fun for adults. Since launch, we have built a neurodiverse, inclusive workforce both at the retail and corporate level.
What market does Sloomoo Institute target and how big is it?
Sloomoo is designed for and enjoyed by people of all ages, abilities, and interests. We opened our flagship location in NYC in 2019, but are excited to expand our destinations across the US, beginning with Chicago and Atlanta slated to open in November.
What’s your business model?
Sloomoo Institute is a ticketed destination, but we also operate an e-commerce shop where customers can purchase Sloomoo slime creations and collections. Our new destinations will also have a more prominent retail presence where guests can purchase slime in-person.
How are you preparing for a potential economic slowdown?
During hard times, it becomes more important for people to do meaningful things – experiences over superficial purchases. We are a world of creating memories, especially for families. Every ticket comes with an 8oz slime that our guests design, which has a $16 retail value. We are committed to exploring dynamic pricing, which will vary based on times of day as well.
What was the funding process like?
It was exciting to be in front of known entrepreneurs who have been game-changing across multiple agencies and see them respond to our concept and business model in such a positive way. But it was also a long process – we wanted to ensure that we found the right people versus just anyone with funds. It also wasn’t an easy process – everyone digs into the numbers, but they have to. You get asked a lot of difficult questions, though we were ready for them as we have a strong brand and impactful story, as well as a serious long-term vision.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
There were a handful of men who did not take us seriously based on nothing other than our being women and what we look like. “Your deck and numbers are strong, but when we see your bio pages, you’re all dressed in such a fun way. You look like cool girls versus serious entrepreneurs,” is what one VC actually said. It was a little shocking!
The challenges also involved our concept being so new – people don’t always “get” it without seeing us in person. It takes a very forward-thinking investor to understand.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Those who came to the experience to see – and touch – it for themselves are the ones who closed, nearly immediately. What they all collectively connected with was how joyful the experience is and how much they, as adults, felt the magic. They also grasped the ancillary opportunities of our world, from the character living as media properties to international expansion. It isn’t always easy to digest this information in a deck or on a call as it’s nuanced.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Right now, our focus is on expansion. By the end of the year, we will have a total of three Sloomoo Institutes opened and operating, with more to come in 2023 and beyond.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Be strategic and intelligent. Invest in key senior management. Know when to pull back and what moments deserve funds and what don’t – what enhances your brand and leaves a lasting memory on your audience is what matters. Also, surround yourself with smart people who are good at what you’re not.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
In addition to opening ticketed experiences in more locations across the country, we look forward to exploring international licensing opportunities and media development including book publishing, entering the metaverse and more.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
Tough call – we love so many. We are both pescatarian and love sushi so Bond, Blue Ribbon Sushi, and Nobu are staples. Palma has the most amazing GF mushroom pasta and salmon dishes.