Shirah Benarde wasn’t even old enough to drink when she came up with a practical solution to the danger of drink-spiking, but she had heard from some of her older friends who were already in college about this serious problem. The solution she created, NightCap, actually came to her in a dream. The next day she took a pair of pantyhose, cut them up and attached them to a scrunchie, creating the first prototype.
Shirah’s older brother, Michael, was already in college and was aware of the problem of drink-spiking. Michael had taken some courses at the Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship, and when he came home for the summer, he saw huge potential for Shirah’s invention. The sister-brother team began working earnestly to move NightCap from concept to reality.
They applied for a patent and a funding campaign was initiated on Indiegogo in October, 2019, ending up with $12,275 from 217 backers. Michael and Shirah also entered the product in pitch competitions, including Florida State University’s InNOLEvation Challenge, Tallahassee Startup Week’s Annual Pitch, and FSU’s Jim Moran Micro Grant. NightCap snagged the top spot in the annual Turkey Tank, a friendly competition where three startups from FSU and rival University of Florida compete for the top spot’s $100, bragging rights and a trophy! It has been featured on many media outlets including USA Today and Fox Business Network.
In January of 2020, Vassar College Store started carrying NightCap and the company began shipping internationally to 46 countries due to requests from Ireland, Germany and Australia, among others.
The NightCap is a flexible cover made from a nylon/spandex combination that fits most standard drink glasses. The cover fits inside a scrunchie, making it something easy and fashionable to carry along on a night out. It is machine washable and has a small opening for a straw. Also available is a separate carrying bag with stainless steel straws and a specially designed cleaning brush.
Shirah and Michael emphasize that the cover is not a substitute for vigilance and want everyone to know that it is still important not to leave a drink unattended in any public place. But it is effective in making it more difficult to quickly slip a pill or other unwanted substance into a drink. And on a lighter note, the cover can also be used at a picnic or at the beach, preventing bugs or sand from getting into your drink!