Penn State Senior Spreads Awareness For Drink-Spiking Through Work With ‘Shark Tank’ Startup

Whether you took up knitting or learned to play the guitar, everyone seems to have picked up a new skill or hobby this year.

Samantha Berk, a Penn State senior majoring in hospitality management, used her extra time at home to become an ambassador for Nightcap, a startup that focuses on drink-spiking prevention.

Berk first saw the product, a hair scrunchie with a hidden pocket containing a drink cover, on TikTok last March. After doing some more research, she discovered that the company had only two employees — the brother and sister duo who founded Nightcap. A few LinkedIn messages later, Berk had landed herself a gig as a sales representative.

Berk’s intentions were not to make money or find a job. Instead, she was simply passionate about the product and its cause. However, her sales began to surge.

From sending messages to sororities and bars at various colleges to posting in Facebook groups, Berk’s marketing tactics sent Nightcap sales through the roof. It wasn’t long before she was asked to be the college ambassador coordinator to oversee operations at different universities across the country.

This past February, Nightcap was featured on an episode of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” a show that gives contestants the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of investors. After pitching their product to the sharks, the Nightcap team struck a deal with Lori Greiner.

Berk said the company’s sales skyrocketed after the appearance, making six figures in just that night alone. Although she can’t disclose the details just yet, Berk said many major retail stores and universities asked to partner with Nightcap following their TV appearance.

“It was a matter of not just getting new clients and companies to house Nightcap, but the awareness is the biggest thing for us,” Berk said.

Berk credited a lot of the company’s success to TikTok. Nightcap’s page had multiple viral videos in the early stages of its business.

“Going from just a viral video on TikTok to ‘Shark Tank’ to big companies reaching out is really cool,” Berk said. “It’s exciting to think that this is only a year in.”

Nightcap is currently in the process of planning a trip to Las Vegas this summer for a beer and liquor convention to gain brand awareness. The team hopes that this event will help the product gain more traction across the country.

As for what’s next for Berk, she’s in the interview process looking for a job post-graduation, but she’s planning to stick with Nightcap, too. Although she’s always been interested in entrepreneurship, Berk has never had an idea that she was super passionate about, but it’s always in the back of her mind.

“I’m a big believer that not everything happens for a reason, but you can find reason in everything that happens,” she said.

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About the Author

Grace Cunningham

Grace was Onward State’s social media manager once upon a time. She was also the host of Onward State's podcast. You should google "Podward State Wienermobile" for a good laugh. Nowadays, Grace is a copywriter or something. You can reach her at [email protected], although she doesn't know why you would want to.

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