The University of Tampa first-year student Shirah Benarde and her brother Michael Benarde, are scheduled to pitch their drink-spiking prevention scrunchie, NightCap, on ABC’s “Shark Tank” on Friday, Feb. 5. Shirah Benarde, 18, is in the Spartan Accelerator program in The University of Tampa’s Lowth Entrepreneurship Center.
Shirah Benarde invented and received a patent for NightCap when she was 16, then partnered with her brother to form NightCapit LLC. Since then, NightCap has won multiple awards including Florida State University’s InNOLEvation Challenge, Tallahassee Startup Week’s Annual Pitch Competition, FSU’s Turkey Tank and FSU’s Jim Moran Micro Grant. NightCap also has been featured on the Fox Business Network and in USA Today, among many other media outlets.
NightCap has been a part of UT’s Spartan Accelerator since 2020. The Spartan Accelerator program is designed for graduate and undergraduate students to help grow their business ideas. The Spartan Accelerator Program pairs students with a launch team of experts to help them formulate successful business plans and investment presentations. The goal of this opportunity is to help build the entrepreneurial ecosystem to support the development and launch of new ventures. Participants attend boot camps based on the lean startup business model and receive free legal counsel. The Lowth Entrepreneurship Center features four large rooms reserved for accelerator teams and their mentors.