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UT Entrepreneurs Saving Lives with Startup Businesses

By Re’nesia Mills

When going out to parties and bars, college student (typically females), often run the risk of date rape drugs being slipped into their drinks. 

Two students at The University of Tampa have developed products that could potentially save men and women from being assaulted. 

Alexsandra Wolfe, junior entrepreneurship major, is the sole owner of Pure-sipity, a jewelry line that is capable of testing whether or not a drink has been drugged.

“All you have to do is use a straw, your finger, or anything just to get a drip of the drink on the tester part of the bracelet, and the tester changes colors to a dark blue if it’s drugged,” said Wolfe. 

Wolfe was a freshman at UT when she came up with the idea for her product. 

“I had a lot of friends that were experiencing date rape drugging when we were at parties, clubs, bars, or just social events and it absolutely terrified me,” said Wolfe. 

She initially searched the internet to see if there was anything already on the market that allowed for women to check if their drink had been spiked and she could not find anything that stuck. 

In 2014, North Carolina State University students had developed a nail polish brand, Undercover Colors, that allowed women to stir their drink with their finger in order to test whether it had been spiked or not. The product never launched following concerns of the chemicals in the nail polish touching beverages. 

Pure-sipity products never touch a drink, so Wolfe doesn’t have to worry about the products harming customers.

Pure-sipity holds a high level of importance in Wolfe’s life. 

“It’s kind of my responsibility to push it forward, put it on the market, and make people aware that there is something that can potentially be the difference between a fun night out or an absolutely devastating experience,” said Wolfe. 

Meanwhile, Shirah Benarde, a UT freshman entrepreneurship major, is the CEO of NightCap, a scrunchie that prevents drink spiking. 

“I’m glad to be someone that other teenagers look at as an influence,” said Benarde.

The scrunchie contains a hidden pocket that holds a drink cover. The drink cover is then placed over a drink leaving room at the top for the insertion of a straw. 

Similar to Wolfe, Benarde wanted to create something to help prevent drink spiking after one of her friends had been roofied. 

“One day, I went to sleep and I had a dream and basically the product just kind of formed in my dream,” said Benarde.

Benarde and her brother, who happens to be her business partner, had the opportunity to pitch their product on ABC’s Shark Tank on Friday, Feb. 5. 

“It was an amazing opportunity,” said Benarde. “I was really nervous at first, but when I got inside the tank, I kind of just took my nerves and used it as passion because it’s like a once in a lifetime opportunity that you can’t really pass up.”

On the show, the Benarde duo asked the sharks for an investment of $60,000 for 20% of the company. 

Before they could finish pitching their product, Lori Greiner was impressed with the potential for social impact that the product held. 

Grenier offered them $60,000 for 25% of the company and the Benardes accepted. 

Wolfe and Benarde are both active members of UT’s accelerator program. 

“Being in the accelerator club at The University of Tampa is definitely a very motivating environment where you get to meet like-minded people who are doing the same things as you, and you can share information,” said Benarde. 

Both women have high hopes for the futures of their products. 

“My plan is to be launching here in the next few months,” said Wolfe. “Hopefully when I launch, I want to hit a bunch of different college campuses with the product and really gain a lot of traction to be able to let people know there is a product out there that can save lives.”

The website for Pure-sipity is expected to launch within the next three weeks.

“I hope to see NightCap in bars, clubs, and every single college campus,” said Benarde. “I also want these bars, clubs, liquor companies, women’s clothing brands, and universities to license their logos on the NightCap so everyone can customize them how they want it to be.”

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