By Riley Kaminer

Drink Cover Company NightCap Secures Financing from SharkTank’s Lori Greiner

Read Time 3 Minutes

West Palm Beach-based NightCap is keeping our community safer, one scrunchie at a time – and they’ve caught the attention of Shark Tank investor Lori Greiner, who wrote NightCap a $60,000 check in return for a 25% stake in their business.

The startup makes special scrunchies that have a drink cover inside. On nights out on the town, users wear the scrunchie on their wrist or in their hair. Then when they order a drink at a bar, they can pull the cover out of the scrunchie to protect their drink from being spiked.

For NightCap’s founders, brother-sister duo Shirah and Michael Benarde, it has been a long road to get to this point. Shirah first made a prototype using her mom’s pantyhose. It wasn’t until a month later, when Michael returned home from college, that they started developing the product.

“When I first saw what Shirah had made, I thought that it had a certain ‘cool factor’ because it was a scrunchie,” Michael told Tech Hub South Florida, “plus, it’s convenient and reusable.”


Leveraging SEO and marketing to drive growth

Michael, currently a master’s student at Florida State University, set up shop at VentureX in West Palm Beach in summer 2019. It was there that he met Sam Edwards, CMO of SEO Company, a content and digital marketing agency. Edwards, who is also the chairman of Tech Hub South Florida’s e-commerce and marketing peer group, immediately knew he could help supercharge NightCap’s growth.

“When I met Michael, NightCap didn’t have too many sales, so we thought about marketing and how to improve his website,” Edwards recalled. Many website iterations and Facebook ads later, NightCap was poised for growth.

This preparation could not have been more timely. When NightCap aired on Shark Tank, Edwards said that their website got more than 15,000 hits – easily enough to take a website out of commission.

But with Edwards’ help, NightCap was able to capitalize off the Shark Tank bump, helping realize his dream of NightCap being “widely available to students in every sorority house and every campus bookstore.”



Tips for budding entrepreneurs

The tools Edwards used to help the NightCap team are more accessible to budding founders than many would think. “Entrepreneurs should do some keyword research using a tool like UberSuggest, and take a look at Google Keyword Planner to understand levels of competition and cost per click,” Edwards suggested.

“There are also some paid tools, like Moz, which helps with organic keyword tracking,” Edwards explained. “Those three tools will get you far.

As for Shark Tank, Michael’s main tip for people considering applying is to practice as much as possible: “I probably practiced my minute and a half pitch at least a thousand times to make sure that I had everything memorized.”

Michael also credits pitch competitions for preparing him to face the sharks. According to Michael, already having already won three pitch competitions “made it easier to figure out what their questions would be.”


Palm Beach as a long-term home for startups

Michael expressed excitement about moving back to West Palm Beach “full-time after July,” when he graduates from FSU.

Edwards, who has been in West Palm Beach for five years, also noted the “incredible growth” of the Palm Beach startup ecosystem. “It’s no longer just mom and pop shops. Now, legitimate businesses that are looking to scale are here in our area, which is great for business.”

Emphasizing a regional perspective to tech growth in South Florida, Edwards identified Tech Hub South Florida as one of the most important organizations that is “helping bring startup communities together.”

On the topic of people that complain about the weather, Edwards says he would “rather sweat to death than freeze to death” in places he used to live, like Washington, DC and New York.

But for now and the foreseeable future, it seems as though South Florida’s startup ecosystem – best embodied by entrepreneurs like Sam Edwards and Michael Benarde – is even hotter than the weather.