Sara Schiller on Entrepreneurship, Public Art and Being Fearless (Not Reckless)
May 29, 2024

Sara Schiller is Co-Founder of Sloomoo Institute, an immersive experience centered on Slime and whose mission is to deliver joy. In 2023, with four locations, Sloomoo Institute welcomed 500,000 visitors and grossed almost $30M in revenue. Sara Schiller is credited for re-inventing the “meetings business" with her company, Meet Hospitality, which launched over a decade ago. Filled with contemporary art, evocative design, and high technology, Meet’s locations revolutionized how corporations gather for offsite brainstorming sessions, focus groups, pitch meetings, and launches. Her clients ranged from global brands, from Chanel to LEGO.

Quickly we saw visitors that most experiences usually don’t see; fathers with their daughters having a fun day out. Dads realized that playing with slime with their daughters was truly special, for both of them. I knew from having a strong connection with my father that this was a moment the girls would never forget.

We recently interviewed your co-founder, but why did YOU want to bring Sloomoo Institute to life?

Initially the opportunity to bring play and art to life together as an immersive experience is what drove me to launch Sloomoo Institute.  What I soon realized was that Sloomoo was so much more than an experience. Initially, we hired one person on the autism spectrum that soon became three and then 10 and then more. We were changing people lives as well as our own without really intending to do so. Having a truly diverse workforce changed the ways teams treated each other behind the scenes. Visitors interacting with our team realized that their neurodiverse children could have careers too.

Quickly we saw visitors that most experiences usually don’t see; fathers with their daughters having a fun day out. Dads realized that playing with slime with their daughters was truly special, for both of them. I knew from having a strong connection with my father that this was a moment the girls would never forget.

As a seasoned entrepreneur I never realized how important it was for me to be putting all of my energy into something that made a difference.  Sloomoo’s focus on mental wellness, neurodiversity and play made me feel good and drove me to work even harder.

What do you think is the future of the immersive experience economy?

Immersive experiences are the future of retail. Gen Alpha will only know purchasing as an experience, not as a transaction. Only the experiences that are grounded in authenticity and create an emotional connection with their guest will emerge as winners. Whenever we launch a new immersive moment in our experiences we make sure it passes all the brand tests such as a) is it interactive? b) does it impact the senses? c)does it make you smile?

You’re a serial entrepreneur. What have you learned that has helped you the most on your journey? What advice would you have for entrepreneurs?

I have some principles that I've learned along the way. The first is to get it 80% right and go. You can spend years working on the last 20% and never get a project off the ground.  We launched Sloomoo in 10 months from ideation, to financing, to lease and opening our doors.  If we had hesitated we probably would have never opened because the pandemic started 4 months later.

The second is to focus on what is “better, different and special.”  With finite resources (both financial and time), you are constantly deciding what to do and, more importantly, what not to do.  We always choose to invest in things that would set us apart and let other items fall to the wayside.  A great example of this is our NYC experience, we left the lighting and most of the walls, include the dressing rooms, from the prior tenant and choose instead to make custom fiberglass egg sculptures to hold our slime.

Finally, you must be fearless without being reckless.  Embracing uncertainty and being comfortable with discomfort are critical to being an entrepreneur. If you don’t have the stomach for it you should move on - it never really get’s any better - the decision and issues just get bigger as you grow.

Can you tell us about the Wooster Collective and where your love of street art comes from?

Street art, especially illegal public art, is critical to a city and to humanity. So many layers are involved in street art that it is easy to see why so many people get addicted.

The fact that the artist risked putting the art up in the first place is critical. It had to have deep meaning for the artist to take the risk of being arrested.  Because it is created in public, it is really part performance art, few artists dare to have others, especially strangers, witness the act of creation.

Street art reclaims public space that every day is sold to commercial endeavors for advertising. This reclamation gives those without access to media a voice: “I am here.”  Whether it’s a graffiti tag or a masterpiece by JR, the viewer knows that it was done by the human hand, keeping the energy alive in the city.

What connects my passion for street art to Sloomoo is this focus on humanity. Seeing art in the city is a way to engage and see the city in different ways. Playing at Sloomoo allows you to connect with yourself and engage all of your senses in ways that many of us forgot how to do from our childhood.

Who is a woman you admire?

Everyday I am in admiration of my daughter Samantha.  Born with a rare genetic syndrome, Angelman Syndrome, she has so many limitations such as an inability to speak and to do most activities of daily living by herself. What sets her apart from many teenagers I know is her incredible level of self-confidence.  Samantha walks into a room and knows who she is and is not embarrassed. With so many teens suffering from body image issues, Samantha is unscathed. I admire her ability to never give up. It took over 10 years for her to form a two-word sentence on her iPad.  Her fight to break through her limitations is incredible.  It never rains in Samantha’s world, she wakes up every  morning happy, she has a funny sense of humor and a keen ability to make the people around her feel good.  I always tell people, if you are having a bad day, hang out with Samantha and it will all melt away.

What’s one trend you see coming in 2024 that interests you?

I’ve been obsessed with the WNBA for a couple of years. After my first experience at a NY Liberty game I realized that they were truly creating a branded experience that embodied inclusion and women empowerment with such amazing basketball play that even jaded men enjoy it. There has been an explosion of awareness of women’s basketball that proves people just want great experiences and are open to wherever they lie.  The WNBA embodies many of the values that make a great brand, they are authentic, inclusive and fun - just like Sloomoo!

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