Simple Product (Scrunchie) to Prevent Drink Spiking – Michael Benarde of NightCap
INTERVIEW VIDEO (Length – 43:54)
Sponsors & Partners
Michael Benarde, Co-founder of Nightcap, a simple Scrunchie that covers a drink glass and prevents spiking, shares the story of how his sister dreamt of the product and then the brother/sister team worked together to bring it to market. Michael shares great insights on how they have made NightCap popular among college students, outsourcing operations, and building B2B partnerships.
Michael Benarde, Sushant interviews Michael Benarde, the founder of Nightcap, a drink covering product designed to keep young women safe from getting drugged at parties. Michael shares his entrepreneur journey, his concept, and his motivation to start this business, which spawned from a drink spiking incident involving his sister. He mentions three reasons that made the product successful: it was reusable, convenient, and marketable. The episode touches upon the issue of drink spiking and how it is not just a North American college phenomenon but a problem in Europe, particularly in the UK, with the primary reason for drink spiking being sexual assault. The speaker discusses the difficulty in catching someone in the act and statistics on it, along with hospitals not testing for drugging if the individual has not been assaulted after the incident and the difficulty in proving guilt without footage of the incident. He also touches upon the dangers of drug tampering and the company’s product development and manufacturing process for a product that aims to prevent it. The episode highlights the company’s success on TikTok and through its appearance on Shark Tank, where they have expanded their product line to include a night cap keychain. The speaker discusses the importance of branding and marketing in attracting and retaining customers and the dedication of the team
- 00:00:00 In this section of a YouTube video titled “Michael Benarde”, Sushant interviews Michael Benarde, the founder of nightcap, a drink covering product designed to keep young women safe from getting drugged at parties. Michael shares his entrepreneur journey, his concept, and his motivation to start this business. He explains that himself from Florida and went to Florida State University for his undergrad and grad school. While in undergrad, his sister came up with the idea of the product after her friends had their drinks spiked. Michael saw three reasons that this product would be successful – it was reusable, convenient, and marketable. He demoted the product as a fun thing that college students want to use, not something they are scared into using. The episode touches upon the issue of drink spiking, which is not just a North American college phenomenon but a problem in Europe, particularly in the UK. The primary reason for drink spiking is sexual assault, and there are cases where men are drugged and robbed, fraternities use it for hazing, and initiation. Due to the difficulty in catching someone in the act, there are not many statistics on it, but it goes unreported quite often when not caught.
- 00:05:00 In this section, the speaker discusses the issue of hospitals not testing for drugging if the individual has not been assaulted after the incident and the difficulty in proving guilt without footage of the incident. The speaker also talks about his product development and manufacturing process for a product that aims to prevent drink tampering. The product development company took the prototype and made it into a more polished product, and they then found a manufacturer in Dallas to produce 4,000 units for the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. The successful outcome of the Indiegogo campaign was largely due to getting an appearance on Fox Business. The speaker acknowledges that the initial six months were difficult and that it took time to find the right product-market fit, but that ultimately, their persistence paid off.
- 00:10:00 Michael Benarde is the founder of a company that produces a drink safety product that has gained popularity on TikTok and through its appearance on Shark Tank. Their primary customer base includes young women who use the product, as well as schools, bars, and clubs that purchase it in bulk and distribute it to their patrons, particularly at night. The company has expanded its product line to include a night cap keychain. The company’s success is attributed to its branding and effectiveness in attracting and retaining customers.
- 00:15:00 In this section of the YouTube video, Michael Benarde discusses his business venture, which involves selling drinks cover. He explains that they saw an opportunity to expand their product line and introduced a new product in a different form that had been popular with consumers. In addition to this, they entered into an exclusive distribution agreement with a UK-licensed drink cover that was not manufactured in-house but was considered to be a better fit for bars and clubs. Benarde shares that this product is more cost-effective for businesses and is available in larger quantities for easy deployment. The financial sustainability of the business highlights the dedication of the team, which is a brother-sister partnership.
- 00:20:00 In this section, the speaker discusses their experience working with Amazon and selling products internationally, specifically in the UK, EU, Australia, US, and Canada. They mention that selling products through Amazon can be challenging, with different countries having different search terms and taxes to consider. To mitigate these challenges, they have partnered with resellers in each country who handle the local logistics and taxes for their Amazon stores. The speaker highlights that this approach can be a smart way for businesses not well-versed in Amazon’s complexities to quickly get their products in front of international audiences.
- 00:25:00 In this section, Michael Benarde discusses his experience appearing on Shark Tank and the sales impact it had on his business. He shares that the appearance went well, and they received almost exactly what they asked for. The experience led to a significant increase in sales, with a three-fold increase in sales over a four-day period. However, there were delays in getting the inventory to Dallas due to an ice storm. Benarde also discusses how he got introduced to Shark Tank, that he applied online, and that he had a deal with Lori from Shark Tank that was almost exactly what he asked for. He describes Lori as a good mentor, and he has received support from her and her team. He also discusses that he would describe the number one impact of working with her being her good mentorship skills, being a possibility for many people. He also talks about his future vision for the business being in the category he is working on, and the growth he hopes to achieve.
- 00:30:00 In this section, Michael Benarde discusses his plans for expanding his business in the next five years. He tells us that he definitely wants to continue his strategy of working on marketing and getting more customers using his product, and that colleges are currently their number one market. He also wants to deepen their efforts in the military vertical, and says this is something they have recently started doing and it is working well. Moving forward, Michael highlights music festivals as a top priority for expansion, saying that it is harder than expected but if they could get music festivals on board, it would be a top priority. He explains how they plan to pitch it to music festivals as a revenue generator, offering sponsorships and more. Michael mentions that they have talked to these festivals about how it can also be a social responsibility thing, which would help with both PR and social media presence while still generating return on investment. Finally, Michael discusses partnerships and influencer marketing, saying that they have found success with attending network events and giving out their product to celebrities. Michael mentions that he does not regret any particular mistake he has made in growing their business, but wishes he knew the importance of filing for international patents within one year of filing their provisional patent early on. However, he also points out that they air shipped the product instead of ocean shipping for Shark Tank, leading to a delay and a missed opportunity.
- 00:35:00 In this section, Michael Benarde discusses various entrepreneurial topics and provides answers to a few quick questions. When asked about a book recommendation for entrepreneurs, Benarde mentions that they are not big readers and cannot come up with a specific recommendation. However, he highlights the importance of branding and marketing in achieving success, using examples such as liquid death and dude wipes, which took existing products and turned them into successful brands. Benarde suggests that business owners should look around to see if there are products they can market differently and utilize branding and marketing strategies to achieve success. When asked for a business or productivity tool recommendation or productivity tip, Benarde suggests using one of the scanning systems available as a subscription service to scan the internet for IP violations, such as trademark, copyright, and patent infringement. Benarde states that they have used different scanning systems, including red points, Edison Law Firm, and Horus, and recommends utilizing one that the organization IAC (International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition) can help with, as it is connected to Alibaba and AliExpress. Benarde also mentions Sarah Blakeley, founder of Spanx, and Dave Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports, as entrepreneurs who inspired him and exemplified successful entrepreneurial qualities. When asked for a book recommendation for entrepreneurs, Benarde suggests that branding and marketing are crucial components of achieving success in business.
- 00:40:00 In this section, the speaker discusses their product and their approach to maintaining a fun and enjoyable atmosphere around it. They mention that their product is not particularly fun or enjoyable by its own but that they have been able to establish a fun aspect to it that people appreciate and make them more likely to use it. The speaker also shares their view that for products targeted towards women and younger individuals, it is essential to incorporate a fun element to it. The speaker then provides advice to entrepreneurs, emphasizing that there is no need to be perfect before launching something. They suggest that starting with less than perfect products and iterating on them as business grows can lead to a more successful outcome.
People & Resources Mentioned in the Episode
What You’ll Learn
Interview with Micheal Benarde of NightCap
|[00:00:08] Introduction to TrepTalks
|[00:00:24] Introduction of Michael Benarde and Nightcap
|[00:00:42] The Genesis of Nightcap – Idea and Motivation
|[00:01:00] Conceptualization of the Drink Spiking Prevention Scrunchie
|[00:03:21] Understanding the Issue of Drink Spiking
|[00:04:01] Extent and Impact of Drink Spiking
|[00:05:44] Challenges in Addressing Drink Spiking Incidents
|[00:06:42] From Prototype to Product Development
|[00:07:02] Initiating Production and Indiegogo Campaign
|[00:09:13] Challenges in Marketing and Initial Growth
|[00:11:00] Diverse Customer Segments and Market Reach
|[00:12:22] Product Awareness on College Campuses
|[00:13:00] University Engagement and Impact
|[00:14:30] Diversification of Product Range
|[00:15:45] Adding New Products for Different Markets
|[00:16:26] Commitment to NightCapIt as a Full-Time Focus
|[00:17:00] Management Roles within the Business
|[00:18:00] Outsourcing and Its Benefits for the Company
|[00:19:58] Social Media Marketing Insights
|[00:21:42] Challenges and Benefits of Selling on Amazon in Different Regions
|[00:24:16] Shark Tank Experience and Post-Show Impact
|[00:24:27] Impact of Shark Tank Appearance
|[00:25:25] Preparation for Post-Shark Tank Sales Surge
|[00:27:00] Application and Deal with Lori on Shark Tank
|[00:27:57] Support and Mentorship from Lori’s Team
|[00:28:42] Future Vision for NightCapIt
|[00:29:39] Challenges in Partnering with Music Festivals
|[00:30:57] Influencer Marketing and Celebrity Engagement
|[00:32:29] Lessons Learned and Mistakes in Business Growth
|[00:35:36] Intellectual Property Scanning Software
|[00:37:45] Inspirational Figures: Sarah Blakely & Dave Portnoy
|[00:39:03] Advice for Entrepreneurs: Embrace Imperfection
|[00:40:15] Working with Siblings in Business
|[00:41:21] Conclusion and Gratitude from Michael
|[00:41:29] NightCapIt Website and Online Presence
|[00:41:54] Closing Remarks and Best Wishes
In this segment, the guest will answer a few questions quickly in one or two sentences.
Micheal Benarde of NightCap
- Book recommendation that you would make to entrepreneurs or business professionals (Response:)
- An innovative product or idea in the current e-commerce retail or tech landscape that you feel excited about (Response: Liquid Death, Dude Wipes )
- A business or productivity tool or software that you would recommend/Productivity Tip. (Response: Edison Law Firm)
- A startup or business (in ecommerce, retail, or tech) that you think is currently doing great things. (Response🙂
- A peer entrepreneur or businessperson whom you look up to or someone who inspires you (Response: Sara Blakely and David Portnoy)
- One networking tip or building and sustaining valuable professional relationships.
- Best business advice you ever received (Response: Not caring about everything being perfect before you launch something “Embrace Imperfection”)
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Hey there entrepreneurs, my name is Sushant and welcome to Treptalks. This is a show where I interview successful e commerce entrepreneurs, business executives, and thought leaders, and ask them questions about their business story, and also dive deep into some of the strategies and tactics that they have used to start and grow their businesses.
And today, I’m really excited to welcome Michael Benarde to the show. Michael is the founder of Nightcap. Nightcap is a drink covering product designed to keep young women safe from getting drugged at parties. And today I’m going to ask Michael a few questions about his entrepreneurial journey and some of the strategies and tactics that he has used to start and grow his business.
So Michael, thank you so much for joining me today at TrepTalks. Really, really appreciate your time. Absolutely. Thanks for having me. So very, very interesting product. Um, can you share a little bit about yourself, your background and how did you get the idea for this product and what really motivated you to start this
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: business?[00:01:00]
Yeah. So, uh, the product itself, uh, our, our main product is the drink spiking prevention scrunchie. Um, and we make other drinks spiking prevention products now, but that was the original. And that was the one that we brought on, uh, shark tank. And you may have seen it on tick tock or Instagram. Um, but myself, uh, I am from Florida.
Uh, I went to Florida state university for my undergrad and grad school. Um, while I was in undergrad, yeah. My sister actually came up with the idea. She thought of it in a dream after some of her friends went off to college and had their drinks spiked and she was thinking about ways to make sure that it would never happen again and to protect herself when she went off to college.
So she thought of it in a dream and she woke up and cut up our mom’s pantyhose and created the first prototype out of that. And then I came home from the summer for the summer. I had one more [00:02:00] semester left in, in school. And, uh, I saw the, the prototype on our dining room table. And I thought to myself, like, why has nothing like this been either invented or invented and adopted on a mainstream scale?
Like nobody really did anything that I knew of to protect themselves. So Um, I thought of like three reasons that I thought that this product would be successful. Um, and that was a, it was, uh, reusable. I didn’t think that anyone was going to just keep buying lids over and over and over and over again. Um, it is convenient.
So you can wear it on your wrist or in your hair. And then when you go out to the bar, you just pull it off. So you don’t have to keep it in your purse. It’s really easy to remember just cause it just stays on you. Uh, and most importantly to me, it was marketable. Um, I didn’t see a way to just, like, scare people into, uh, buying this product.
I thought that it had to [00:03:00] be something people would want to use. It had to be a fun thing to use. And so, um, I thought the scrunchie aspect of it made it this fun solution to a serious problem. Um, and that’s how we market our company today as a, as a fun thing that college students want to use, not something they are scared into using.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I mean, it’s definitely an, uh, uh, interesting and important products trying to, um, target a serious problem. Um, what is, is, is drink spiking really a college phenomenon? What, um, and are there, like, do you know any stats? Like what, why is there… The problem in the first place, like, do you have any insights on,
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: you know,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: um, and, and is there a way to, of course, you know, you have this product to kind of prevent that, but why is there a culture of like this drink spiking in, in North American [00:04:00] colleges and universities?
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: Yeah, yeah, it’s really messed up. It’s all, it’s not just North America. There’s a big problem in Europe, especially in the UK. Um, but, you know, Obviously, the number one reason it happens is sexual assault. There’s predators that use it to take advantage of, uh, generally women, unfortunately. Um, there’s also a case where people will drug, uh, men and rob them.
And they’re not, you know, out of it and they don’t know what’s going on. Um, and then there’s even situations where, like, I’ve heard of fraternities, um, using it as, like, a hazing, an initiation of, take these, take these drugs and go spike. three girls drinks at the bar tonight. Um, if you want to, you know, be in this fraternity and it’s like really awful stuff.
Yeah, there’s articles about it. Um, so, you know, there’s not really many statistics on it because it’s almost impossible to catch someone in the act of doing it. Um, it goes unreported very often when it’s not. And then also a lot of [00:05:00] hospitals will not test you for being drugged if you haven’t been drugged.
Assaulted afterwards. And so that’s actually a law we’re working on trying to change in the U. S. Uh, right now we’re working with the state senator in Boston, um, to change the law in Massachusetts to make hospitals test you if you believe you’ve been drugged. And, and, I
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: mean, I’m assuming that it is illegal, like, if somebody gets caught in the act, and, but I’m assuming even if somebody does, then, you know, after the act, it will be difficult to kind of prove that somebody was trying to, or how would you prove that some, you know, it was that person who kind of spiked your drink.
So I guess that, that kind of makes the problem more challenging, right?
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: Exactly. So it has to be caught on camera. And I mean, it just happens like that. So it has to be a camera getting a clear shot of someone doing it. I mean, you can, you know, you can prove it happened to you by testing yourself. Um, but you can’t really prove who did it unless, uh, [00:06:00] You know, there’s footage of someone doing it, which is extremely rare, unfortunately.
Um, so, you know, it’s, it’s a very difficult problem to deal with. And that’s why, um, you know, our product makes it by itself more difficult to drug someone without being caught. Right. So if you, it’s much, it’s much more difficult to have to like finagle around a drink cover and then put something in, um, without being caught, or at least the camera being able to notice that you’re tampering with a drink.
So before even just preventing the product, preventing the problem by itself, it, it, it just makes it more difficult and therefore less likely someone’s going to tamper with your drink in the first place. So
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: your sister came up with the idea you thought that this could be, um, an interesting, um, business idea.
What, what happened next? Um, how did you go from the prototype to actually having a product and, and actually getting your first [00:07:00] payment?
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: Um, so, you know, I came home from the summer, uh, you know, I decided that. This was a great idea and I thought that it was worth giving it a shot. Um, so I got an office at, actually, it was right here in this building that we’re in now.
Uh, it was 2019, June of 2019. Um, and I just started, um, well, the first thing we did was our dad knew a seamstress and so we had this seamstress make, it was like five prototypes, so she would make one, she would come to our house, she’d be like, this is what I got, and we’d be like, okay, fix this, this, and this.
She’d make another one with those changes and be like, okay, and he’s this, this and this. And then we repeat that process about five times until we got somewhere that we liked a decent amount. And then, um, I found a, uh, product development company in Dallas, Texas, and, uh, we sent them our, what we had and they took it and they made it into like, uh, you know, like the, [00:08:00] the nice.
Beautiful product. It is today. Instead of just like a mishmash thing of that look like a bunch of textbook covers and put together and stuff. Um, so once we got that finalized through them, we went and found a manufacturer in Dallas to, uh, we made 4000 units on the first run. That was going to be for our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.
So we took, um, we took preorders through Indiegogo to help fund the first manufacturing run. Um, and then, You know, we, we saw, we, we ended up getting on Fox Business, which helped us, uh, finish that Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. Um, and then, uh, you know, once, once it started taking off later on, we moved, moved into manufacturing overseas because it just wasn’t sustainable price to do it here.
Um, and then started mass manufacturing it over there. For the
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Indiegogo campaign. Um, can you talk a little bit more about how [00:09:00] you made that campaign successful? Of course you said, you know, you got on Fox Business, but how did that come about and did you run like some sort of a PR campaign, uh, to, to get, um, appearance, uh, in Fox, uh,
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: business?
Yeah. It was actually really difficult to sell them at first. The first like six months. I mean, we, it was like painstaking to get people to buy them. Mm-hmm. , um, We got really lucky with the Fox business thing and that pretty much did all of it. We also got, well, I guess that was after we did it. We got in USA Today, which helped, but, um, the first like six months, we really didn’t get my, I mean, the Indiegogo was only 12, 000.
So, but it was enough to get where we needed to be. We I mean, having like you’re starting right in the beginning, you have to test out a lot of things. Sometimes things work that you wouldn’t expect to work and some things don’t work that you would expect to work. So the things that we thought would work did not work.
And then the things we didn’t expect to work ended up working. So it took us time to get to it was about [00:10:00] like March. Um. 2020, where we had some TikTok videos do really, really well. Um, I think our second and third video ever on there got like 6 million views each. And then, um, that’s when we started really gaining some traction.
Um, and then we got on, uh, Shark Tank in, uh, what was it? Uh, we aired in the beginning of 2021. So, after, like, between TikTok and Shark Tank in that, in that time, it really just started taking off. Um,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: so I’m assuming you have like two kind of, uh, customer segment. One is, you know, the direct, the consumer itself, you know, people, young women who are going to kind of use this item, but then you, you have other business that you probably get most of your business from are really either schools or bars and clubs and things like that, that, um, that purchase it directly from you in bulk and [00:11:00] maybe, um, distribute this product, um, at nighttime when, you know, women are coming to their establishments.
Um, can you talk a little bit about your, you know, your customer base and, and which one is working well in terms of, uh, you know, driving
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: your business? Um, yeah, so we’re really big on Amazon. Our website is not actually that big compared to Amazon. But what we do in a lot of our on our website is bulk orders to universities.
Um, that’s actually become almost as big, if not bigger than Amazon at this point. It’s almost it’s becoming it’s kind of morphing into a B to B company a bit. Um, and we also added recently, we started working with the U. S. military and air force, um, and they are passing them out to their soldiers on bases to keep them safe when they go out.
Um, so, and then we also work with a lot of non profits and just different organizations, companies that want to use it as a promotional item. So, we’ve worked with, [00:12:00] uh, liquor companies, we’ve worked with Bacardi, Grey Goose, uh, Four Roses Bourbon, and, uh, actually we have partnerships coming out with, uh, Bumble.
Um, and DoorDash, and so they just, they take it, they put their logo on it, and they hand it out to students on college campuses. So, um, yeah, there’s a, there’s a very big B2B market for them. Is, is
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: this product kind of well known in North American campuses? Like, you know, any… young person, young woman who sees your products, at least is aware of this idea of having like this crunchy kind of a product to prevent drink spiking.
And what did it take to create that perception? I mean, I’m assuming that, uh, you know, the reason a big part of your business business is really branding or making this product kind of. Um, popular with the young, um, crowd, right? Or young women, especially. [00:13:00] Um, how do you…
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: Yeah. Yeah, if you go to a college campus and you, and you show a hundred kids the product, I would, I would bet at least half of them know what it is.
Um, that’s when we get really good feedback from universities because the universities, they buy safety products and they hand them out. And, uh, you know, it’s just a regular product to them. But when they buy our product and they hand them out, everyone’s like, Oh, I’ve seen this on Shark Tank. I’ve seen this on TikTok.
Like, this is the fun. This is like a fun thing to use. And so we get tons of positive feedback from the universities. And they, you know, they want to order over and over again, because it’s, um, it’s a great way for them to. Get students like excited about safety and and also they use it as, um, an opportunity to educate students.
So they’ll come and they’ll talk a little bit about drink safety and stuff. And then they’ll hand them out with it so they can use it as a Teaching opportunity. Um, and, uh, yeah, I mean, the college students, it’s, it’s, it’s by far number one, number [00:14:00] one thing. Um, and yeah, if you go to college campuses, I, most people do know about it.
And part of that is because we have over 250 million views on tick tock. And that’s targeted very much towards college students. And so they’ve all seen it. They’ve all seen it on there one way or another. Awesome. And,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: uh, I see that now you have added additional products, um, on your website as well. Uh, because of course, you know, having a one product business is, is, um, you know, you can only drive so much growth through a one product, uh, business.
So, um, can you talk through a little bit around, you know, the rationale for adding additional products and how that has
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: helped your business? Yeah, so our second product we came out with was the nightcap keychain and it’s basically the scrunchie in a keychain pouch and this way, uh, this way, um, we had, you know, we had a lot of requests for men to, who wanted to use the product and there’s also a lot of women who don’t wear scrunchies.
So, [00:15:00] um, we found a way to come out with a version of the product that was the same thing, but in a different form. And, uh, that’s been really popular. And then the other one that was really important for us is we, we, the product stop tops on our website, uh, it’s licensed from the UK. That’s not a product that we manufacture ourself, but we are the exclusive distributor in the U S for it.
Um, and that one, the reason we brought that on is because we saw it as a fit, a better fit for bars and clubs, um, and venues that want a cheaper price point item, uh, to have behind the bar and be able to put on every drink that it’s used on. So, you know, the scrunchies are reusable and they come in a more, a higher price point.
So they’re better for like colleges giving them once a semester to students or, um, promo. Or companies using them as promo items, whereas the bars and clubs like that disposable one where they could have a roll of 500 of them behind the counter and just anyone who wants a drink [00:16:00] cover just stick it on and it’s uh, it’s not too costly to them.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah, I mean that I think that that product also seems really nice like the disposable item. Um. From a business perspective, um, are you, um, are you kind of not now in this business 100 like, is this your 100 percent focus, um, as an entrepreneur or, you know, this is kind of like a side hustle
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: for you? No, this has been, uh, my full time job, my sister’s full time job, uh, since, uh, well, since I graduated my MBA back in 2020.
I think, um, so yeah, I, this is what I do every day. Um, that’s what she does every day. We
takes up all of our time and, uh, we’re happy to do it. And that’s, and that’s the
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: team team. It’s the brother, uh, sister team. And, uh, or do you have, uh, uh, [00:17:00] any other members and like what kind of business do you handle versus what, what does your, what is your sister responsible for? I think you’re getting disconnected.
Hello? Can you hear me?
I think there was some connectivity issues. I think you’re
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: muted.
Yeah, the Wi Fi just like turned off. I don’t know what happened. I want to say like reset. No worries. Are
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: we still recording? Yeah. Yeah. Uh, yeah, I think we’re still recording. That’s fine. Yeah. So I was asking you, so your team, your, um, you know, brother sister team, um, who manages what and, uh, have you also hired any outside, uh, or any additional team members, uh, to help you with this project?
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: Yeah. So, uh, Shira does pretty much all the like front end stuff, social media, PR, um, anything with dealing with marketing. Um, and then I do all the back end stuff, manufacturing, legal stuff, customer service, bulk orders, uh, stuff like that. Now, we did just hire a third person for [00:18:00] part time to help us out with some stuff, but we could have a lot more employees.
But what we do is we outsource a lot of our work to other companies. So, like, we use a fulfillment center, third party fulfillment center, we use a company to run our Amazon for us. So there’s a lot of things that we, you know, you could have internally, but we, uh, outsource it.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: And, and you found that that was a more cost effective way to do it or that was more where it did cost a little bit extra, but it kind of, uh, Um, it kind of gives you more, more time and flexibility to focus on business and doing sales and marketing.
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: Yeah, I think especially when you’re new, um, I think the flexibility of not like, I think if you bring on too many employees right away, it can you in a bind if you know, sales drop or, um, unexpectedly with, you know, with outside services, you can pause them. Um, you can. There’s more flexibility with it, um, instead of having to like [00:19:00] fire people or anything like that.
Um, but yeah, just not having to deal with a lot of the like hands on physical stuff with Amazon and fulfillment and there’s other stuff here and there. Um, but it’s much easier in my opinion, but it’s it’s also it’s different for every company, you know, there’s for us that’s it’s easier that way. Um, there’s some company, I mean, if you have some like customized items and stuff, like you’ll probably want to fulfill stuff yourself and there’s, there’s, it’s every business has, um, to make that decision based on their model.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, a little bit about your social media marketing. Of course, you said your sister kind of manages that. And I see you have a large social media, um, following. Um, And I’ve, I’ve spoken to, you know, of course I speak to e commerce businesses all the time and many businesses are kind of, you know, struggle with driving following or engagement on social media.
But, [00:20:00] um, and, but then I find some other businesses that’s relatively easy for them. So, I mean, maybe this is more of a question for your sister, but, you know, Do you have any insights on what, uh, your sister is doing? Like what, what is kind of the ingredient of kind of driving, um, following and engagement on social media?
Um, do you think that this, you know, um, it’s easier for this product because, you know, it’s geared toward college age students and, you know, it’s because it’s so relevant to them. It’s, you know, they’re more engaged with this, uh,
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: you know, with the brand. Yeah, I think it’s a combination of various things. I think like you have to have someone running it who knows what they’re doing post professional stuff and be able to relate to to customers.
Um, I think the product very much matters. I think. Some products are like sexier or, or not sexier that for social media. Um, you know, some products are just more difficult [00:21:00] to market on social media than others. So just, I think the, sometimes the ingredients aren’t there for a social media product and you just have to figure out different ways to do it.
Um, you know, it’s, it is a lot of things that go into it, but I don’t think there’s one specific answer to it. I think it’s, I think it’s a lot of factors.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: For sure. Um, so your main channel is Amazon. And of course, I see on your website, you have, um, Amazon, um, um, Amazon shop on, you know, US, UK, Europe, Canada, Australia.
Um, can you talk a little bit about working with Amazon? Um, and Is there, is it, is it challenging or is it relatively straightforward to create, um, a store in a different country, uh, and get started, um, [00:22:00] or is it relatively straightforward and are there any challenges of, you know, selling through Amazon in different regions, um, is there any issue with, you know, currencies and, and, and those kinds of things and, um, how are you managing the different shops?
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: Um, yeah, so in my opinion, I think it’s. It’s very annoying to deal with, uh, and I don’t want to deal with it ever. So what we did is, you know, we, our model in the U S is we have a third party that, that buys it from us and then resells it. Um, but so what I looked into was finding similar companies in those countries that we could do the same thing for, and that way they deal with everything and we just have to ship it to them.
And then, you know, they pay. All the VAT taxes on it. They pay the, they, they, they do their keywords and stuff based on what keywords are different. Like the different countries will search your product with different words. Um, [00:23:00] and so, you know, there’s a lot of intricate differences that you may not even think about that they do because they sell there.
Um, so we have, you know, we have one seller that does the UK and the EU. We have a seller for Australia. Um, and then we have one that does the U. S. and Canada. So. It’s in my opinion, I think, you know, if you can do Amazon yourself in the U. S. and you’re based in the U. S., you know, if you know how to do it well, I definitely, you know, do it, definitely do that.
Um, but if you want to quickly get your product out to. International eyes and not, you’re not the, uh, you know, in the intricacies of Amazon would just find a reseller over there that you trust and, uh, and then just do it, do a wholesale model over there and just let them sell it for you. And that’s, you know, you’re probably getting revenue that you wouldn’t get otherwise.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Well, that’s, that’s a very interesting way to do it. And I think probably, um, [00:24:00] probably a smart way to do it because, you know, it probably saves you so much headache and, you know, things to, things to worry about. Uh, so, so definitely very, very interesting. Um, so you did have an appearance on Shark Tank. Can you talk a little bit about that experience?
How did you get on Shark Tank? And, um, And what was your experience like? Did it actually drive, um, orders for you post, uh, when the, uh, when the show
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: aired? Yeah. So, uh, I mean, the Shark Tank appearance went about as good as it possibly could have. We got one of the fastest deals in Shark Tank history. Um, got almost exactly what we asked for.
And, uh, Yeah, I can tell you that it does have a significant sales impact. You know, it depends on the product to some products are better for shark tank than others, I think. Um, and also it depends on how the sharks react to your product. If, you know, if they, if they speak highly of it, even if they don’t invest in it because of the financials, it’ll [00:25:00] probably do well if they, if they trash the product itself.
I don’t, I don’t have experience with that, but it’s, uh. It may not go as well for you. Um, but yeah, we did like three times our, uh, the sales that we had the entire year before in like 48 hours. So, uh, it was, yeah, it was, uh, an insane experience. Um, and, and were you,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: were you ready? Um, were you ready for the, the, that, that kind of fill?
Like, did you, had you planned for it, um, beforehand?
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: Well, there’s actually a funny story behind that. We were ready. Well, we had the plans to be ready, um, and what happened was, um, we had all of our inventory was supposed to arrive, like, two days after. The airing and we were just going to ship it out right there.
And what happened was it got delayed at the port an extra few days. And because it got delayed at the port, [00:26:00] it was delayed coming into our warehouse in Dallas. And that very week. There was a, what you could call a generational ice storm in Dallas that shut down the whole city for like two weeks. All the roads were iced up and they couldn’t put any trucks on the road or anything.
And, um, we couldn’t get our product actually into our warehouse for three weeks after it happened. So we did have a lot of, uh, Angry, non understanding customers. But, um, you know, it was, uh, it was a hell of a three weeks to deal with, but we, I mean, once, once they got in, you know, we got them out right away and it was fine overall, just, um, but it was, it was definitely something to deal with.
What are the odds? How did you, how
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: did you, um, get, um, introduced to Shark Tank? Did you kind of like reach to them cold or did they reach [00:27:00] out to you? And, um, who, who did you have the deal with? And are you, did you actually, uh, complete that deal?
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: Uh, yeah, so we just applied online. There’s just you go on their website.
We just, I don’t know. It was very, very, very simple. It’s like you put in your email and your website. Um, that’s like almost it. There’s like maybe one other thing. And then, uh, like two months later or something, I got a call and then. From there, you begin the process of like auditioning and stuff, but I guess if they’re interested in you, they give you a call.
Um, we got a deal with Lori, uh, for almost exactly what we asked for. Um, and yeah, we did close the deal after.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Okay. And, uh, what kind of support do you receive from her now? Like, is, is she the one who kind of introduced you to like these different reseller, resellers and so forth? Like, what has been the impact of working with Lori?
Like, does she advise you on business? [00:28:00] Um, and, uh, yeah, what, what has been your experience working with her?
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: Yeah, I would. I mean, I’d say the number one thing is easily just her and her team being just really good mentors. And when we have questions about things, we send them to her. Um, you know, she’s not in the office doing stuff every day, but, uh, you know, when we need stuff, we reach out to them to, uh, to help us with stuff.
Um, and then, you know, when they, when she sees opportunities pop up for us, she’ll, she lets us know. So, uh. You know, it’s been a, it’s been a really good experience. And, but you know, you’re operating the company on your own. You’re not, it’s not like you just hand it off to them to do. You’re still doing everything day to day by yourself.
Yeah, of course.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, What is your future vision for the business? I mean, um, just the category that you’re working in. I mean, do you, do you envision adding more products? Do you envision just, you know, continuing your strategy, working on marketing and just, um, getting more customers, [00:29:00] uh, using this product?
Where do you see your business? Um, let’s say five years down the road.
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: Yes. So. I mean, we definitely want to just keep expanding with colleges. That’s like our number one market. Um, we want to go much deeper into this military vertical. That’s something we started recently doing. And, uh, it’s, it’s been working really well.
you know, I’d say focusing on those two things are, are the, are probably the top priority. We want to get into music festivals. Um, it’s, it’s harder than you’d think, but, uh, if we can get the music festivals, that would be the top priority. Um, And then why is it partnering with why is it
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: difficult music
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: festival?
I’d say a lot of a lot of them are owned by, you know, one company. And so you got to get in with that one company to, uh, to do it. There’s, I mean, there’s smaller ones and stuff, but it’s like, you know, there’s a very You know, you got to get in with the big guys [00:30:00] on there to do it, but you have to show them why they need this product and why it’s, it’s gonna, you know, we have to pitch it to them as a revenue generator as well.
So, um, we, you know, we talked, we talked to them about how it’s, you know, a social responsibility thing, but also we can sell it as a sponsorship. We can put a liquor company logo on them and, uh, QR codes and, um, they can sell tickets to future events right through their drink with a QR code. They can, they can sell merchandise through the drink.
They can promote future stuff on the drink. Um, just, you know, making it so it’s both, they get both good PR and, and, and so, and social media presence from doing that. And then also an ROI, uh, on its own, you know, one day, hopefully they will. Bite on it. At least test it out. Awesome. I mean,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I think you were going to talk about partnerships.
I mean, have you, have you [00:31:00] done some sort of a influencer, um, marketing? I mean, if I, I assume if like some celebrity kind of, you know, shows it on there. Uh, you know, social media or, you know, uh, some of these social media influences kind of, uh, start promoting. And I think that that can probably also help you get additional, uh, um, access to additional markets or, or eyeballs at least.
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: Yeah, hopefully, yeah, hopefully get more more celebrities posting and we actually took on a celebrity investor after shark tank. Um, his name is Julian Michaels, just singer songwriter. Um, and then, you know, get it. Yeah, definitely. Any celebrities listening to this? I want to post it. Come on down.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Awesome.
Like, do you send, send this to, you know, I think a lot of people do they’ll send their product to, uh, to celebrity, they’ll mail it and then hope that somebody posts it. Do you ever
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: try? Well, Shira, Shira goes [00:32:00] to a lot of networking events and she’s met a lot of, a lot of celebrities and given them. To them directly.
I know she met Paris Hilton a few weeks ago. Gave her one. Um, she gave one to, I don’t know, like Alex earlier in the day. Um, yeah, there’s a bunch of them that have them in their hands. They just, uh… You got to put it up online
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: for sure. Yeah. Yeah. Um, in every entrepreneur’s journey, there’s always mistakes made, lessons learned, uh, in growing, building your business.
Uh, what has been your learning experiences? Have you made any big mistakes that you kind of regret or, you know, what have you learned from your, uh, biggest mistakes, failures, building this business? And what can other entrepreneurs learn from your.
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: Yeah, I have one one big one, um, that I wish I knew when I started and it’s that, uh, you have to file for an international patent within one year of filing your [00:33:00] provisional patent, which I was not aware of.
And so we do not have a patents outside of the U. S. And we have. It’s had a lot, a lot of money stolen from us from this. So, uh, make sure you file for your international patents. As soon as possible. Um, no, I, my, I guess my other thing would be, I wish I air shipped, uh, the product instead of ocean shipped it for shark tank and that way it would have been here on time, but it did not work out that way.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So does that mean that now this, I mean, you know, any, any such kind of a product, it’s, it’s easy for, you know, copycats to come up and, you know, create similar products. So does that, does that mean that Amazon has similar products now? That you can’t basically stop them selling it because
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: you don’t have the outside of the outside of the U.
S. Yes, but inside of the U. S. We, we have a pretty good handle on it.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Wow. [00:34:00] Okay. Okay. So that was kind of a miss. Okay. Um, now I’m going to move on to a rapid fire segment in this segment. I’m going to ask you a few quick questions and you have to answer them maybe 1 or 2 words or a sentence or so. The 1st 1 is.
One book recommendation for entrepreneurs. Uh, and why
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: one book recommendation. Um, I am not a big reader. I have to say, I don’t know. I don’t know if I have one for
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: that. Okay. Okay. No worries. Uh, an innovative product or idea in the current e commerce retail or tech landscape that you feel excited about.
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: Um, I can say like some products that fascinate me, um, just from the, like the strategy behind them, like I’m really interested of like, um, like liquid death and dude wipes of like how they took just products that already existed and, and just made million dollar, a billion, not a billion, probably a hundred million dollar brands out of just Water and toilet wipes and just like the the psychology [00:35:00] and marketing behind those and how they achieve that is like very interesting to me.
I think that that’s
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: so interesting. You know, if you have. A great product, but you don’t have great branding and marketing that can tank a product, you know a great product but if you have a Average or even bad product, but you have great branding or marketing. I think that can pull the product forward So that’s that’s uh branding marketing is huge
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: I think Look around just look around you and see if there’s something that can be marketed a different way and then uh Change it and then sell it.
Yeah. Yeah, for sure.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um a business or productivity tool or software that you would recommend or a productivity tip. Um,
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: okay. Software. Um,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: any, any, any tool or, you know, software productivity tip, anything that you do to help drive your productivity.
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: Um, I would say, you know, if you have intellectual property, I would [00:36:00] use one of the scanning systems that There’s they have a different systems that you can buy as a subscription service, and they will scan the Internet in all the different third party marketplaces.
And, um, they’ll tell basically show you if you have people knocking you off could be for trademark could be for copyright. It could be for patents. Um. See if people are knocking you off on, on websites that, you know, you don’t have the time to, I don’t have time to go through every website every day, to, there are are thousands of them.
Um, so it just kind of scans the internet and puts it all into one platform for you to approve or disapprove of taking them down. Um, there’s different, I’ve, I’ve used a few different ones of them, but, um, that’s probably the one I didn’t know existed before. And, uh, thankful that we, we use now.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: What is the name of that
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: platform?
Um, we’ve used three different ones. Uh, we used red points at one point, and then we used [00:37:00] a one called Edison law firm. Um, and where you, we use, we use one called a Horace. But, uh, and then, well, one, yeah, one organization that’s, that’s amazing for this too is called the ICC. It’s actually a nonprofit, uh, so it’s actually free for the first year and they have a special relationship with Alibaba and Ali express and they get.
You know, it’s very difficult to get stuff removed from there and they are like the only ones I’ve only only company I’ve ever met that I can actually get stuff removed from there So they have a little system of their own which is uh, you know, I thank god for them every day cool um
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Another entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone who inspires you?
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: um Yeah, I looked up to Sarah Blakely a lot when I was first starting the company. Uh, she went to my university, uh, a few years before me and, uh, saw how she built her company and [00:38:00] kind of, um, saw just, uh, how she built it. I’ve also… Um, you know, Dave Portnoy is a little bit of a controversial person, but I, I like how he built the company in a way where like, you know, it’s just news and sports, but he put this like pop culture twist on it and made like, made it a fun company.
Um, and you know, our product is not, it’s not a fun thing by any means, but we’ve been able to put like a fun. Part into it where people will actually like using it and it’s not something we scare them into using and it’s become it’s become a marketable thing. And so in that aspect, I appreciate how he did that.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah, I think, I think for your product, especially because it’s geared towards women and especially younger people, I think you, you need to have that kind of a twist. Um, final question, um, what, um, what is the best business [00:39:00] advice that you have ever received or you would give to other entrepreneurs?
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: business advice. Um, I would say that just not caring about, uh, everything being perfect before you launch something. Hmm. Uh, when she was still in high school, I was doing like the social media, um, stuff and like running the Instagram and the branding and it looked absolutely awful. , uh, and, uh, But it doesn’t matter because you can you know, you can launch just there’s no need to like make excuses for like everything I’m not ready to launch it because this isn’t right.
This isn’t ready And then like you never end up actually what you say you’re gonna do and like You know, we’ve built it, you can build it as you go, you don’t have to be perfect right away. You’re not like, you know, because the companies we look at are like multi billion dollar companies and they have like all their branding perfect and all their like everything is like on point.
But when you’re a small business, like you can just start and then you [00:40:00] know, by the time you become that billion dollar brand, you’ll have it all together.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: For sure. I think that’s a, that’s a definitely a great advice. Last question before I wrap up, because I think this is the first time I’ve come across a sister brother team.
What is it like working with your sibling? Is it easy? Is it difficult? Do you both work at the same place? And who’s a better Entrepreneur business
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: person. Um, we get along pretty well for a brother sister team and we kind of have our own like lanes where I do all the back end stuff and she does like the social media stuff.
So she makes decisions on her end. I make decisions on my end. And, uh, we rarely have like issues where they cross over and we have to disagree on something. Um, you know, we fought a lot when we were little, but we grew, we grew out of it, I think, uh, by the time, uh, she was in high school. Um, so, you know, it goes pretty [00:41:00] well.
Um, I will be biased and say I am the better superior entrepreneur. For sure, for
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: sure. And those were all the questions that I had. Michael, thank you so much, um, uh, for, for your time today, for sharing your story and, and, you know, some, some of the strategies and tactics that you have used to, you know, grow your business.
Very, very inspiring and interesting. Uh, so yeah, thank you so much again. If anybody wants to check out your products, uh, what is the best way to
Michael Benarde of NightCapIt: do that? Uh, you can check us out at, uh, nightcapit. com and we’re also on Amazon, uh, as well as TikTok shop, pretty much any online third party marketplace where we are on and, uh, appreciate you having me on and, uh, feel free to, uh, add me on LinkedIn or anything like that.
So thanks. Awesome.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Awesome. Thank you so much, Michael. Really appreciate your time and wish you and your sister, uh, the very best in your business. [00:42:00] Thanks.