Shark Tank’s Manuel & Geiszel Godoy: Business Built by Faith | Nashville Christian Family Magazine July 2023 issue - free Christian magazine

When Manuel and Geiszel Godoy appeared on the “Shark Tank” television show to pitch their unique business plan, their excitement exuded through the screen. Their passion for diverse storytelling impressed the show’s celebrity judges and increased the visibility of their already-successful business. Today, the Birmingham area born-and-bred married couple continues to follow their dreams, relying on faith to help them do business the “right way.”

Diverse Stories.

The Godoys’ business, Black Sands, tells the stories of African American history in a new and exciting way; it uses comic books, graphic novels, novelizations, and animation to introduce readers to black heroes that have often been lost to history. Husband Manuel is the creative force behind the stories. An avid video gamer, he originally wanted to design games that showcased black characters; the cost of video game production, however, changed his focus. “We decided to go with comic books, and it turned out to be the perfect decision,” he said. “There’s not enough content out there, especially with historical settings. I wanted to create books that showed African life in antiquity.”

His first creation–and still the standard bearer and the company’s most popular product–is the namesake Black Sands, which is set in ancient Egypt and features the main character who is a teenage boy named Ausur. His dream is to become Pharaoh over ancient Egypt; ultimately, that dream leads him to save the kingdom from the evil Titans of ancient Greece. “He’s trying to prove that he can be the next ruler of the kingdom and he struggles for legitimacy,” Manuel explained. “There’s a war with Sparta and ancient gods, and he gets in way over his head. But people really like the character, because he stays true to his convictions, and he never walks back from his decisions. He never regrets what he believes in.”

Creating a story based on ancient history and myths involved a lot of research, and Manuel stayed true to his conviction to make it accurate even while using poetic license to imagine a new world of characters. He said it was important to follow a “golden rule” of cultural presentation. “I need to be accurate when it comes to societal norms, food, dress, politics, and so forth,” he said, “while also making sure that the power given to armies and politics balances well with the heroes and legendary figures.” While the comics and books aren’t specifically Bible stories, Manuel says he “sneaks” Bible locations and historical Bible characters into the stories. “We throw little hints in there,” he said. “We’ll mention giants in Canaan and other people and places mentioned in the Bible.” Other stories in the Black Sands collection include: “Muntu Warriors” (the story of a South African science professor who becomes a superhero), “Granada’s Shadow” (the story of a young Moor “pushed to the brink” in the Crusades), “Madagascar” (the story of a young queen who fights colonial powers), “Mask of the Orisha” (the story of the Orisha mythology in west Africa), and “Lion’s Game” (a martial arts story in the black community).

Geiszel Godoy adds her creative spin on Black Sands’ products and is the author of Mori’s Family Adventures, which is the inspiring story of a black family traveling through South Africa. All of the Black Sands creations fill a niche that the Godoys found lacking when they were young parents themselves. “Every child needs to know about their heritage and culture,” Manuel said. “We couldn’t find those things for our own family, so we made them ourselves. We want to have heroes who reflect their ancestral upbringing.” Manuel said he’s particularly cognizant of creating “family friendly” products that can be read by kids starting in middle school–but can remain favorites as their readers grow into adulthood. “There are complex storylines, but no sex or violence,” he said. “I’m going to make content that’s accessible to middle school students, but that parents and grandparents can buy and love too. I’ve heard people tell me that their dad read one first, then told them about it. It’s passed down.”

Manuel and Geiszel now live and operate their business in Delaware, but their roots are in Birmingham. Geiszel was born in Birmingham, AL and Manuel is from Shelby County, AL. They were both stationed in the Army in the early 2000s (both in Germany) but met and married afterward. “We met at Salsa Night at Workplay in Birmingham on New Year’s Eve,” she said. “Six months later we got married.” Manuel had a degree in economics, and Geiszel had one in fashion and management that led her to work for Calvin Klein. After having kids, however, they were inspired to start Black Sands. They founded the company in 2016, and one of their first sales strategies was operating a kiosk in a major mall. “That was our first time with a physical place to sell our products,” she said. “People really liked it, and it took off.” They have since found success through various outlets. They sell their books straight to customers on their website and do special work with school systems.

Shark Tank Experience.  

In January of 2022, the Godoys appeared on an episode of “Shark Tank” to pitch funding for their company from hosts including Mark Cuban and actor Kevin Hart. “We’ve watched the show since it first aired 13 years ago and we’ve always been big fans,” Gieszel said. “Manuel put together and submitted our proposal, and we were excited to be on stage. I prayed for the whole process.” While Cuban and Hart offered $500,000 toward Black Sands, the Godoys left negotiations and decided to go back to the success they’d already had on their own. “It just wasn’t for us,” Manuel said. “There’s a lot of red tape with celebrities, and I’d already gotten this far through conversations with my community. It had to be either-or, and we had to go with what we already knew.” Still, the Godoys said that their appearance on “Shark Tank” greatly increased their visibility. People suddenly knew about their comic books, their company, and their mission. “It gave us massive credibility,” he said. The company is now looking to stand on its own with new investors. Black Sands has started a novel division, has a video game in production, and plans to venture into animation and a televised or streamed series.

Faith-Guided Business.

According to the Godoys, their business model is one based on principles they follow as Christians. In addition to including references to Biblical locations and characters in their stories and striving to create family-friendly products, the company’s plans are guided by the Godoys’ moral and spiritual values. “To be a successful entrepreneur, we believe you have to put God first in your life,” Gieszel said. “If you follow Him, He will lead you to the right path.” She also said that you must keep and follow a moral compass, recognizing that God desires that you use your influence to help others. “We believe that if much has been given to you, you must be reciprocal,” she said. “You have to give back to the community and do positive things.” As she and her husband look to the future in their marriage, family, and business life, she said that she’ll rely on her favorite Bible verse–Philippians 4:13. She knows that they can do “all things” if they put their trust in Christ. “That’s my favorite verse, and I try to keep it always in my mind,” she said. To learn more about the Godoys and Black Sands products, visit:

-Cheryl Wray is a freelance writer and book author who lives in Hueytown and directs the Southern Christian Writers Conference. Learn about the 2023 SCWC at the blog,

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