By Nancy Dahlberg
The Miami Herald
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Meet the three young women who have come up with a unique way to keep other women safe. Their concept which recently won first place in the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge High School Track, is called “Smart Straws.” The straws detect the most common rape drugs and turn blue when they are placed in nonalcoholic or alcoholic drinks.
The Miami Herald
This winning team faced plenty of naysayers — from their own class.
But Susana Cappello, Carolina Baigorri and Victoria Roca of Gulliver Preparatory were powered by passion. They took the feedback into consideration, changed their product without changing their mission and persisted — all the way to first place in the Business Plan Challenge High School Track.
Their winning concept is Smart Straws, which detect the most common rape drugs and turn blue when they are placed in nonalcoholic or alcoholic drinks.
“We were really passionate about this so we kept on pursuing it,” said Susana, who said classmates referred to them as “the straw ladies.” But it’s a real and growing problem, she said. “Our goal is to reduce the [date rape] statistics.”
The judges liked the simplicity of the concept — one judge called it brilliant — because the straws could be distributed by school organizations and campus health clinics, for example, and students could carry them in their purses.
Acknowledging the product could be easily copied, the judges also liked that the girls were looking into patent protection. They also encouraged the team to think beyond their first product and consider what other related products or services could complement the straws and further the company’s social impact mission.
The use of so-called club drugs to facilitate rape is a decades-old problem that seems to have intensified in recent years, particularly in college towns, as the drugs are easier to obtain. A survey the team conducted at Northwestern University found that 85 percent of respondents said they would use such a straw. Half of them knew someone who had been drugged at a party.