While drinking at a bar or a college party might be fun, they’re not the safest environments. The number of drink spiking cases has risen dramatically in recent years and this inspired Shirah Benarde and her brother, Michael, to invent NightCap. The product, which is disguised as a scrunchie, is used to cover a beverage cup to prevent others from putting drugs or alcohol into it. After featuring on Shark Tank, they got a deal with Lori Greiner. As of 2023, NightCap is worth an estimated $2 million.
About the Founders
The Benarde siblings grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida. Shirah is the youngest among the two, and is currently studying public relations and advertising at the University of Tampa. Michael, has a bachelor’s degree in political science and government from Florida State University. After college, he got an MBA from the same institution.
Like her little sister, he became an entrepreneur while he was still in college. Apart from NightCap, he also founded Michael Benarde Consulting. The company helps startups scale through manufacturing and marketing.
When she was 16 years old, Shirah heard horror stories from friends in college about young girls getting their drink spiked. Her friends were okay, but the young businesswoman was determined to do something about the problem.
She wanted to make a product to protect girls without making them uncomfortable. After sketching up an idea, she proceeded to her mom’s closet and got some pantyhose and a scrunchie. Combining the two, she created the prototype.
Michael helped Shirah launch NightCap in 2019. They got $18,000 from their parents, $12,000 from IndieGoGo, and $15,000 from pitch contests. After nearly a year in business, sales reached $68,000.
Shark Tank Appearance
Shirah and Michael Benarde had a lot of trouble figuring things out at the start. But when they got the formula in 2020, they were confident that they could get an investment from the Sharks. They joined season 12, seeking $60,000 for a 20% equity stake.
Shirah and Michael delivered a solid pitch and it was clearly well rehearsed. The Sharks loved the product, and business had great momentum. Lori Greiner in particular was the most interested as it resonated with her as a lady. Lori was quick to offer $60,000 for 25% and the founders quickly accepted the offer.
After Shark Tank
The deal with Lori closed after the show, and her investment was used to upgrade the company’s website and product packaging. A year after their episode aired on television, the startups had $2.1 million in revenue.
The brand has grown to new heights from the publicity on Shark Tank and their product is hugely popular among college students. The scrunchie that serves as a drink cover is available on Amazon, Walmart, and their official product website, Nighcapit.com.
They expanded their product range to include a key chain. In early 2022, NightCap secured a deal to become the exclusive distributor of StopTopps, a similar product that’s sold in the UK.
The business is booming and has sold thousands of products in more than 40 countries. They’ve also had success leveraging TikTok and Instagram to drive sales. NightCap is currently worth an estimated $2 million.