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UT student invents scrunchie to prevent drink drugging

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A University of Tampa student who invented a hair scrunchie that doubles as a protective covering for drinks is back on TV on Friday to give America an update on her business she runs with her brother.

Shirah Benarde says she invented “NightCap” from a dream.

“I came up with NightCap in a dream. I woke up the next day and I talked to my dad about it. He was very supportive of the idea and so I grabbed my mom’s pantyhose from her room and a scrunchie from my room and I cut it up to create the first prototype,” she said.

Her brother Michael saw the potential for NightCap in its prototype phase and helped his sister take action.

Shirah explained NightCap is a wearable scrunchie with a built in pouch containing a drink cover, which covers any size of glass.

“So you don’t get drugged or it also can show the mean guy that you are not someone to mess with. So it works in different ways as a deterrent and to be protective,” Shirah said.

The duo were featured on the popular TV show “Shark Tank” on its 12th season, which ran from 2020 to 2021. They walked away with a deal from “shark” Lori Greiner, for 25% of their company for $60,000.

“Walking in the tank, we were very nervous but I think that once our pitch started, our nerves kind of went away and we were just really on a mission to secure a deal with Lori, because she was the shark that we wanted in the beginning,” Shirah said.

“It went about as good as it possible could have gone,” Michael added.

While Shirah is taking a year off from school to focus full-time on her business, she said she was pleasantly surprised by Tampa.

“The community in Tampa is actually full of entrepreneurs which I didn’t expect. But living over there, I was pretty surprised at how many other people I could relate to about being an entrepreneur, running a business,” she said.

Shirah said one company in the city that stood out to her was Lucid Vending, which offers vending machines full of novelty items, artwork and more across the area.

“They gave me the opportunity to put my product in their vending machine which got a lot of traction to the vending machines, because they’re placed in different restaurants and clubs that a lot of people go to which is really cool – so shout out to them,” Shirah said.

The sibling duo will be back on “Shark Tank” Friday night to discuss how far they’ve come in their business since their original episode. They are working with universities across the country to provide NightCaps to give to their students for free.

Michael said NightCap continues to expand, even reaching overseas.

“We’ve been doing a ton of business in the UK, working with universities, police departments and even city councils over there,” he said. “They’ve had a huge drink spiking problem and at one point, we were even the number two women’s accessory on Amazon UK. So pretty unexpected.”

They said they have a few new products in the works. The NightCap unisex keychain launched in December.

Shirah and Michael offered some advice to younger people like themselves thinking of starting up a business. Michael said he believes college is the time to go for it.

“Go all in and see if you can make your dream become a reality. Do it before you have a family and a career. There’s people at your school that are going to be there to support you and provide you with resources that you wouldn’t get otherwise,” he said.

“Stop caring what other people think and ask for help when you need it,” Shirah added.

You can catch Shirah and Michael’s update on “Shark Tank” April 1 at 8 p.m.

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