Capital One Spark Business IQ Spotlights BooKoo Bounce

Generating Great Business Ideas From The Mouths Of Babes

In 2007, after a long day at an amusement park, Gene Sausse and his family were taking the monorail ride back to their hotel. Sausse’s three-year-old daughter, Sylvie, rested her head on her mother’s lap. Gradually, the small child’s eyes fluttered open and she politely asked her father: “Would you open a birthday place, please?”

Within a year, Sausse launched BooKoo Bounce, a New Orleans party company whose inspiration came, quite literally, from the mouth of babes.

“This was a year after Hurricane Katrina, and I was at a point where I was trying to find direction and purpose,” Sausse says. “My wife and I had been having discussions about what to do with our future, but never in front of our daughter. For her to say this out of the blue was mysterious and powerful.”


A Time For Entrepreneurs

As Sausse pondered it, he realized his daughter’s unexpected question coalesced a lot of thoughts that were already swirling around in his head. As a new father, Sausse had seen Sundays change from football games to kiddy birthday parties. And he was struck that the parties were often uncomfortable for the adults, who had to endure dirty bathrooms, lack of seating, and the humid New Orleans weather while the kids enjoy a bouncy house in a park.

On top of that, he sensed the time was ripe to strike out on his own after years of holding sales jobs in the hotel, tourism, and garbage-collection industries. Many people in New Orleans, who had literally seen their companies and jobs washed away by the storm, were launching their own businesses. “New Orleans was still in recovery mode,” he says. “The city park had been destroyed and many people still had dumpsters in front of their house for cleanup from the hurricane, so they didn’t like the idea of having birthday parties at home. Once my daughter asked me to start a party business, I knew I had to do something.”

birthday party at bookoo bounce

Weathering Another Storm

BooKoo Bounce addresses a lot of the problems Sausse saw with kid’s parties by making the experience comfortable and easy for the adults. His 8,600-square-foot space offers inflatable jumps, slides, interactive games and bounce houses. The company will handle all the details — the invitations, food, party favors, and provide a gift for the birthday child. Meanwhile, parents enjoy a temperature controlled setting and two big screen Hi-Def TVs broadcasting sporting events including the Saints, Louisiana State University, and Hornets games.

Bookoo playhouse

It turned out, bouncy houses in a comfortable setting were a perfect fit for an economy that needed to rebound: Sausse placed ads in local parenting magazines, and had 28 parties booked before he even opened. There were challenges: On his first day of business, another hurricane approached New Orleans, resulting in a city-wide evacuation. It didn’t manner — all the cancelled parties immediately rebooked.

BooKoo Bounce continues to leap ahead: Sausse was recently honored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with a 2014 DREAM BIG Blue Ribbon award, given to small businesses that exhibit a keen business strategy, great customer service, and strong community involvement.

U S Chamber of Commerce Meeting

Examine Your Life’s Needs

And it’s appropriate those Big Dreams started with an improbable question uttered by a sleepy child. Sausse says this shows that great business ideas can come from anywhere. If an idea sticks in your head, he believes you already felt it in your gut.

“Where you have needs in your life that aren’t being solved, that’s where the opportunities lay,” he says. “If you don’t like shopping, the answer may be a grocery app. If you don’t like washing your own car, that may tell you a car-washing service is the ticket. The key is seeing if you have a problem that you can solve and the passion to solve it. And as the father of one small child, I can tell you there is no greater passion than making sure she enjoys a memorable birthday.”

Family of Bookoo Bounce

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