Donna Friedman Meir launches new venture

With seed funding in her pocket, media exec Donna Friedman Meir wants to take on the US$23-billion family leisure entertainment market one city at a time.
March 31, 2016

After years spent creating multiplatform experiences for global audiences, Donna Friedman Meir is going local–quite literally. In tapping into the US$23-billion family leisure entertainment market, the Lemonade Creative Consulting founder and former National Geographic Kids Entertainment president has launched WOW Explorations, a new venture that develops on-site recreational experiences for families. (Think interactive maker activities mixed with adventure park-esque games and cultural festival elements, all rolled together under a Cirque-like touring model.)

With US$500,000 in seed funding from New York-based Lyrical Partners in her pocket, Friedman Meir is now priming the plans for WOW Explorations’ first attraction, WOWtopia (working title), which will tour as a global festival across select US cities. The plan is for three WOWtopia events to take place per year, each running for three months at a time.

WOWtopia activities will run the gamut from ziplining to art-making, all while incorporating authentic cultural experiences through an international team of artists and ambassadors. There will also be a variety of workshops, playscapes and interactive performances for kids and adults.

The idea is to offer modern millennial parents with a worldly escape for their families that won’t break the bank.

“We’re talking about a US$20 to US$24 price-point per person. Our core tenants are about accessibility, artistry and adventure. We’ve done a lot of research on market analysis in terms of what the right price point is, and we want to make sure the experience is as affordable as possible to broad audiences,” says Friedman Meir. “Admission would come to under US$100 for a family of four, which is like the price of a movie, so the value is strong.”

Not unlike a movie, WOWtopia wants to introduce kids to new concepts and places, and that will take place on a one-acre site managed by local and national operations teams. Friedman Meir and her core partners will remain based in San Francisco, while each WOWtopia experience will tap local talent and logistics teams.

WOWtopia will also lend itself to branding and marketing opportunities, with Meir intending to have three to five core sponsorship partners on-board for each tour.

“We are just in the process of talking with strategic partners now, and we are speaking with those in travel and leisure, adventure, media and digital technology categories,” she says. “Some consumer products extensions will occur, obviously, but we need to start with one thing and really get it right. The tour is the focus. And there will be digital media experiences attached to it before, during and after.”

Ahead of the tour’s fall 2017 launch, WOW Explorations’ new funds will be used to design, build and launch the concept. (The Company intends to expand a Series A funding round to new institutional and angel investors next month.) Assisting Friedman Meir in those efforts is Jeffrey Wyatt, who holds expertise in creating global entertainment venues, major events and exhibitions in domestic and international locations for the museum and entertainment industries. He has produced and toured exhibits for Global Experience Specialists (GES), AEG Live, Arts & Exhibitions International (AEI), and Clear Channel Exhibitions, including Harry Potter–the Exhibition.

Aside from launching Lemonade Creative Consulting and serving as executive producer of Cartoon Network series Sonic Boom, Friedman Meir has also held senior executive positions with The WB and Nickelodeon.

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