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Oogles n Googles Is Oodles of Fun
by Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp
and as seen in the January/February 2004 Newseum, The Children's Museum
by Chris Penttilo
and as seen in the May 2004 Costco Connection
Oogles n Googles™ In The News
Making News at The Daily Nonpareil
September 17, 2006
Oogles n Googles comes to town
By Phil Rooney
Read the whole article on www.nonpareilonline.com
Making News at DailySun.org
July 13, 2006
The Zany Bunch:
Burgeoning Indy-based Oogles n Googles brings razzle-dazzle to Zionsville
By Josh Green
Read the whole article on DailySun.org
Bill Spencer is an animated fellow. So lively a performer is he that, at a recent Music and Imagination gala, a young adorer was moved enough by Spencer that she deemed him a suitable husband. His wizardry was at work.
“She asked ‘Will you marry me?’ and rolled her sweet little eyes,” said Spencer. “We get lots of hugs and kisses — all the time. And now a marriage proposal.”
Spencer and his wife, Karla, are Boone County residents and operations managers (a.k.a. theatrical logisticians) for Indianapolis-based Oogles n Googles, an “edu-taining” provider of birthday parties and Music and Imagination programs. Began in 2002 to fill a void in the all-inclusive birthday party market in Indianapolis, Oogles n Googles has branched since 2004 to include 27 franchises between Charlotte, Phoenix and now Honolulu. In metro Indianapolis alone, Oogles n Googles will put on 20 to 30 birthday parties and entertain up to 1,000 preschoolers with enrichment skits each month.
The Indianapolis headquarters team has been a mainstay in Zionsville schools for years. Spencer and company will make their debut at the Zionsville Lions Park Concert Series on Sunday with “A Tribute to Walt Disney Movies” and later in the town’s Fall Festival. Young patrons can expect face-painting, temporary tattoos and costumes galore when Oogles n Googles swings in.
The Spencers have latched on to the energy of the burgeoning company that doesn’t take itself too seriously (the 96th Street and Michigan Road office is dorm-room cluttered upstairs, and painted up with big dragons, monkeys and super-heroes in the birthday headquarters downstairs). Before coming aboard the company, Karla Spencer worked at an Indianapolis daycare that hired Oogles n Googles for its high-energy enrichment program. She was intrigued.
“I saw it was an up-and-coming company,” said Karla Spencer, a resident of Royal Run subdivision. “It’s been neat to see it grow since.”
Bill Spencer accompanied his wife to the first Oogles n Googles corporate retreat, where he was introduced to business people with “the coolest jobs” he’d ever seen. With a theatrical background and a 9-year-old son, Dylan, to learn from, Bill Spencer felt he had the chops to play a starring roll with Oogles n Googles. In April 2004, he became a full-time birthday party orchestrator.
“I saw these people and how much they enjoyed their job; you don’t see people who love their job that much,” said Bill Spencer. “The job’s a challenge but you learn to keep going. It’s all about keeping kids engaged.”
A recent business profile on Oogles n Googles by the Indianapolis Star suggested the company is filling a niche in the city (and, indeed, across the nation), catering to “overworked and time-depleted parents who don’t have the hours in the day or the creativity” to whip up a gala birthday a child won’t forget. The article contends that Oogles n Googles could be among the largest “away-from-home entertainment” providers of party planning for parents in the country.
Key to Oogles n Googles’ success has been the idea of a hands-off birthday parents don’t have to stress over. For $335, up to 12 children can be treated to two-hour parties with zany themes like “Hula! Hula! Hula!,” “Swashbuckling Pirates,” and “Chuga Chuga Choo Choo.” The all-inclusive parties are scripted and loaded with firemen, wizards and dinosaur hunter costumes.
There’s no invitation writing. No clean-up. No robotic musical bears.
“It’s a very unique concept in the fact that it’s a total turnkey solution for parents,” said Oogles n Googles co-creator David Mendell. (True to the company’s nonchalant nature, when asked his official title, Mendell made up “creator” on the spot). “It’s a very colorful concept, and it works.”
Underneath the company’s flexible hours and penchant for silliness, Mendell sees a desire to succeed on a large scale. Formerly, he was the senior vice president of business development for Telamon, a $450 million corporation. In early 2002, he felt he’d climbed that ladder and was looking elsewhere, which is around the time his wife, Danya, couldn’t find a suitable birthday party for their son in Indianapolis.
Soon after, the birthday business idea was kicked around, somewhat jokingly.
“Basically, I said we need to start this,” recalled Danya Mendell. “He said I was crazy.”
But soon Kevin Mendell stepped from the more uptight corporate world and was placing ads in Indy’s Child magazine, working with his wife from home. His theatrical experience wasn’t exactly a hinderance as he started performing for gaping youngsters, and the Oogles n Googles Music and Imagination Programs, staged as “in-school field trips,” were a quick hit.
Last year, Oogles n Googles was named the official birthday providers of the Indiana Pacers and Fever, as well as the Phoenix Suns. Last month alone, the company announced the opening of 10 franchises from Milwaukee to South Atlanta. Danya Mendell said she hopes to sell 20 more franchises (at a reported $20,000) before the end of the year, which could include a Fishers location.
“We’re looking at merchandising, T.V. — kind of taking the nation by storm,” said Danya Mendell.
The franchisees are of course vital to that national push. Based in Charlotte, N.C., Rob Lenderman, 33, purchased the first Oogles n Googles franchise with his wife, Stacey, 32, in April 2004. He paid $15,000, plus another $7,000 or so for costumes and equipment.
The business was turning profit by the Lendermans’ fourth month of business, and Stacey Lenderman’s earnings topped $85,000 last year alone, said her husband. More and more the Lendermans are scoring clients who’ve heard of Oogles n Googles in other states, he said.
“My wife was in technology and decided she didn’t like it so much anymore,” said Rob Lenderman. “She was looking for a child-related business. I had owned a couple of businesses before, and I knew franchising was a way of improving your chances of success.”
The perfect phonology of the Oogles n Googles brand name can be attributed to the Mendell’s oldest son, Zach, who brainstormed the name at age 7.
“We were throwing around names, and (Zach Mendell) threw it out there — or something like it,” said his mother. “So we accredit him.”
But it’s that name — scribed in loopy font, accompanied by a whimsical monkey — that the Oogles n Googles four-person Indianapolis team wants to make synonymous with good times. And the most imaginative birthday parties around.
“We want to be the number one birthday provider in Indiana — and throughout the nation, really,” said Bill Spencer, the charming wizard. “We want to be that household name.”
The formula is working thus far. Danya Mendell has toiled as the primary scriptwriter for Oogles n Googles birthday parties since the business’ inception. A native of South Africa, and the daughter of a longtime preschool teacher, she met her husband as both were attending Indiana University. If there’s one thing she learned from her experience with entertaining children, it’s to abide by her mother’s wisdom — to go with what feels right.
“I asked my mom how she did this (child entertainment),” said Danya Mendell. “She said you just do — you just get it.
“And, I guess, we did.”
Visit Oogles n Googles online at: www.ooglesngoogles.com and follow the monkey.
Copyright 2006, The Daily Sun
222 W. South St, Lebanon IN 46052
Telephone (765) 482-3333/(317) 873-2333 • Fax: (765) 482-1333
Making News at Ocean County Observer
August 7, 2006
A Business of Birthday Parties:
Franchise offers 15 themed events for kids
By Lois A. Kaplan
Read the whole article on www.ocobserver.com
STAFFORD — The first New Jersey franchise of Oogles n Googles, a children's party program, has opened in Manahawkin.
It specializes in theme and costume birthday parties featuring two zany, fun-filled hours of play, games, songs and activities for children ages 4 through 10. The parties include a themed story line, dress-up costumes, personalized invitations and thank-you notes, birthday cake and juice, party favors, a souvenir photo for each guest, and a special gift for the birthday boy or girl.
Here in Manahawkin, Oogles n Googles franchise owner Maryclaire Balko gave her first party May 21 for 33 children in a Forked River church basement rented for the occasion. Oogles n Googles parties, she said, may be held in many locations: a client's home, her office, or a building such as a church hall or firehouse.
Some of Balko's clients invite only children to the parties; others invite children and their adult relatives, she said.
Once a month, Balko also offers a Music and Imagination program for children ages 2 through 5 based on an educational, entertaining theme. Her August program's theme, for example, is "Under the Sea," and the fee for the 45-minute class at the Manahawkin facility is $10 per child, which includes goodie bags distributed at its conclusion.
Balko, who has a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology, has lived in Little Egg Harbor for the past seven years and has two daughters, ages 6 and 3. She bought her Oogles n Googles franchise in April, gave its first parties in May and opened up in July at her present location.
She is dedicated, she said, to helping parents and children celebrate children's birthdays.
"We're about putting kids first and making them the absolute center of attention on their birthdays." Balko said. "We want to give them birthday experiences that will create memories that will last for years to come."
She added that Oogles n Googles does all the work, so parents don't have to.
"All parents want the best for their children's birthdays, but they don't always have the time or energy to plan, shop, cook, entertain, set up and clean up," she said. "So we make it as easy as picking up the phone and booking a party at a location of your choice."
Oogles n Googles offers 15 party theme choices, including Wizard School, Fairy Tale Princess, Pop Rock Party, Swashbuckling Pirates, Rev Your Engines, Pom Pom Princess, Super Heroes, Teddy Bear Tea, Down on the Farm, I Spy Detective, Dinosaur Hunt and Train Explorer.
Different party themes might appeal to children of different ages. For example, Balko said, parties with racecar, fairy tale or fire truck themes will appeal to 4- and 5-year-olds, whereas those with wizard themes are more appropriate for children ages 6 through 10.
Oogles n Googles is based in Indianapolis.
The local franchise is at 703 Mill Creek Road, Suite F2. For more information, visit www.ooglesngoogles.com or call (609) 618-3189.
IndyStar.com May 29, 2006
Oogles of Fun: Local children's birthday party firm is sprouting franchises galore and having a good time doing it
By Dana Knight
In four years, the company has gone from a single Indianapolis location to a successful franchisor of 27 stores cropping up all over the country — from Hawaii to New Jersey to North Carolina. By the end of 2006, the Mendells expect to have a portfolio of 40 franchisees nationwide.
Oogles n Googles' concept is simple: Offer scripted parties with themes like superheroes, trains and fairy tales. For a price of $335 for 12 children, Oogles' employees lead a party at the Indianapolis location, which includes stories, kids dressing up in character, face painting, dancing, singing and cake.
"We want to be the largest in the country," said Kevin Mendell, who met his wife when both were getting business degrees from Indiana University. "I think we can. A lot of success in business has to do with passion."
Read the whole article on IndyStar.com
ArkansasBusiness.com May 15, 2006
Oogles-and-Googles Offers Children's Theme-based Partywear and More
By Jennifer Stigall
Read the whole article on ArkansasBusiness.com
Inside Business Indiana with Gerry Dick, September 2004
Oogles n Googles Director of Franchise Development Kevin Mendell
discuss the concept and development of the franchise.
Topics Newspapers November 13, 2003
Young readers take lessons from Garfield Library program pumps up
parents, youth to read aloud
By Gretchen Rush
INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Marion County Public Library and Garfield
the cat are encouraging parents to read out loud to their children this
month as part of a library program that emphasizes the importance of
"The philosophy of reading aloud to children has been around for a
long time, but it's been lost," said Melanie Wissel, manager of program
development for the library. "We have enjoyed a resurgence in the last
Last year, 19,244 children participated in Read-Aloud. The library
hopes to top the 20,000 mark this year.
The theme of the program is Join Garfield's Crowd! Read Aloud! Eating
and Reading — A Healthy Recipe for Success. It's being held in conjunction
with the orange feline's 25th birthday. The reading initiative is based
on Jim Trelease's "Read Aloud Handbook," which encourages parents to
share books by reading out loud with their children.
"As little as 15 minutes a day can change the child's attitude," Wissel
said. "Teaching children to read is different than teaching them to
want to read. Reading aloud is the best advantage for selling the joy
When families sign up at the library for the program, they receive
a kit with a reading log, eight Garfield and Friends stickers, a Garfield
mini mouse pad and a nutrition guide with the food pyramid in a Garfield
plastic tote bag.
"It's self-directed by parents," Wissel said. "They keep track of the
time. For every 30 minutes, they place a sticker on the reading log."
When families complete at least four hours of reading books, magazines,
newspapers or other material, they can bring the log to the library
for validation by Dec. 15.
Children will earn coupons for Chi-Chi's Mexican restaurant.
To help develop healthy eating habits, families can also participate
in Call-a-Chef, a 24-hour story line that features stories by local
chefs, dietitians and nutritionists. The number to call is (317) 269-1717.
Also, the Oogles n Googles party-management company is hosting Cat Tales
for children ages 3-6 at the various library branches.
Crystal Montgomery recently brought her daughter, Lauren, 5, to Cat
Tales at the Glendale library. The children and parents sang songs,
including "Happy Birthday," to Garfield and listened and acted out stories
"She loves coming to the library," Montgomery said. "She likes to come
to all the programs and read."
Some of Lauren's favorite book characters include Barbie, Bob the Builder
and Bear in the Big Blue House, her mom said.
The Montgomerys plan to participate in Read-Aloud.
Garfield to visit
See Garfield in person at the following Teachers Credit Union locations:
o 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Nov. 28, 4705 S. Emerson Ave.
o 3-5 p.m. Nov. 28, Park 100, 5130 W. 71st St.
o 10 a.m.-noon Nov. 29, Shadeland branch, 6710 N. Shadeland Ave.
o 2-4 p.m. Nov. 29, 8375 E. 96th St.
For more information, call (317) 269-5247 or visit www.imcpl.org
Sign up for Read-Aloud at any Indianapolis Marion County Public Library
branch or Bookmobile throughout November.
September/October 2003 Tourist Attractions & Parks Magazine
Theatrical, Highly-Themed Birthday Parties 'Wow' Kids and Parents
at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
Indianapolis, IN — The Children's Museum of Indianapolis unites with
Indy's zaniest one-of-a-kind themed birthday party programs for kids-Oogles
n Googles . Now both children and guests can experience the nation's
top children's museum along with the fun and excitement of a theme party
of their choice.
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis selected Oogles n Googles , a
turnkey children's party provider, to be their birthday party host company
because they wanted a team of experienced professionals to handle their
Events Sales Manger Kristy Boone said, "We definitely have the facility
to host an extraordinary birthday party, we just needed an expert to
create an amazing all-inclusive-themed experience."
Oogles n Googles President Kevin Mendell explains, "Along with the
memorable experience your child will receive at the museum, we also
provide an unbelievably memorable birthday. Our parties are extremely
engaging and exciting for children ages three to 11."
Birthday fantasies at The Children's Museum are fulfilled through a
large variety of themed Oogles n Googles parties. Girls and boys enjoy
magical activities with themed parties like "Wizard School," "Once Upon
a Time," "Magic Party," and "Tea Time." The smallest kids may enjoy
Oogles n Googles specialty parties such as "Teddy Bear Tea," "Hurry,
Hurry Ride the Fire Truck," "Down on the Farm," and "Super Heroes."
Most parties have story lines attached and seem more like theatrical
productions-only the kids star in the production.
Oogles n Googles owners Kevin and Danya Mendell have created a birthday
party entertainment company that offers a completely unique birthday
event for young children and their parents. Mendells, who have three
young children-ages 16 months to seven-years-old-were frustrated with
their own inability to find a unique party experience for their children.
Thus the concept for the Indianapolis-based Oogles n Googles was born.
"I've always been a theatrical person, and I know kids enjoy that kind
of interaction so we decided to add that dynamic to our business with
themes popular with children today," comments Kevin Mendell. "From there,
Danya began writing skits. We made costumes for each theme with coordinating
party favors and decorations. We're creating real entertainment for
the children. No one gets bored, and the parents watch their children
from the sidelines," continues Mendell. Mendells believe that their
parties are for today's over-committed, time-limited parents who, despite
their overwhelming schedules, still just want a wholesome, fun, and
memorable birthday party for their children.
Oogles n Googles , offers a unique, highly-themed turn-key birthday
party operation for FECs and other entertainment venues. "Oogles n Googles
can provide birthday party facilitation services at any type of venue-wherever
parties are part of the overall program mix. Oogles n Googles parties
work in family entertainment facilities, children's museums, children's
zoos, and anywhere birthday party services are needed. "Oogles n Googles
can come into any entertainment venue and run high-quality birthday
events and at the same time relieve management of all the headaches
associated with running a successful program," states Oogles n Googles
President Kevin Mendell.
For more information about the revenue-sharing Oogles n Googles party
program, contact the company at Ph: 317-228-9177 or visit their website