3 Miami Teen Girls Aim to Help Fight Date Rape Drugs With ‘Smart Straw’

Entrepreneurship runs through the blood of Susana Cappello, a 17-year-old student at Gulliver Prep School in Miami, Florida. Influenced by her entrepreneur father and a love for the hit ABC show Shark Tank, Cappello knew she always wanted to create something of her own.

When she walked into an entrepreneurship class on the first day of her junior year, she immediately teamed up with her current business partners, Victoria Roca and Carolina Baigorri, who all had something in common.

“We were the only few girls in the class,” Cappello said.

Cappello and her friends felt intimidated while drafting their class project, a business plan and product, particularly when comparing themselves to their male peers.

“I was first intimidated because the way the boys in our class pitched was incredible,” Cappello said. “But since they had really good pitches and really good business ideas, it made us motivated and even more excited to really go for this business idea.”

The three young women noted an important world problem that needed a solution which led to the idea that would eventually win them the Miami Herald’s Business Plan Challenge High School Track.

Together they created the company Smart Straws, a straw that helps combat date rape through detected common drugs in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks by simply turning blue.

According to the Office on Women’s Health, the most common date rape drugs include gamma hydroxybutyric (GHB), Ketamine and Rohypnol. The drugs are often colorless and odorless and even tasteless, and when consumed can make users feel confused or event pass out—making any kind sexual relations non-consensual. For Cappello, she wanted to help solve this problem, especially with college students.

The girls’ initial idea fell flat. They first pitched a jewelry pendant could be dipped in a drink to test for GHB and Ketamine. When they brought the idea to the chemistry and bio medical department at school, they were told the idea would be difficult to carry out using jewelry.

The idea of a creating a straw came almost instantly when the girls noticed that they were all drinking out of water bottles with straws. The device was easy to use, accessible, and could test for drugs easier than their previous proposal.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Sydney C Greene