Last spring, a handful of NC State students founded Undercover Colors, a company that creates date-rape drug detecting nail polishes. However, due to lack of funds the group was unable to put its product on the market; but now, Undercover Colors received funding from an angel investor that will allow it to complete its research and development.
The kind of funding that Undercover Colors will receive is similar to that of Shark Tank. Angel investors who believe in a product or service give their money to start-up companies in the hopes that they will get a return on their investment and help the young company succeed.
Tyler Maloney, one of the founders, explained his excitement about the funding.
“This is a huge milestone for us,” Maloney. “It takes a great deal of advanced science to make a novel product like this. If all goes as planned, our most recent funding round will enable us to finish our research and development.”
Undercover Colors was intended to protect those who wear it from date rape. The nail polish changes color when it comes in contact with a spiked drink, which will allow consumers to know whether certain types of drugs are present in the beverage or not, according to Maloney.
Approximately 20-25 percent of women are victims of rape or attempted rape during the course of their college career, according to the National Sexual Violence Research Center.
“I don’t think women — or anyone for that matter — should have to be afraid to sit at a bar and have a drink,” Maloney said. “Because perpetrators won’t know who is wearing our polish, each person who buys the product will be making everyone else around them safer too. That’s a powerful concept, and it will cause predators to think twice. I’m excited to give the world a tool that creates a real risk for perpetrators to get caught.”
David Gardner, an NC State alumnus and the first angel investor of Undercover Colors believes Undercover Colors is crucial.
“It’s something that can be used inconspicuously,” Gardner said. “You don’t want to offend someone. The person buying you a drink might be your future husband, so this is something that can be done discretely and that’s what’s really unique about it on the market.”
Not only will the polish provide protection for its wearers, but it also allows them to test their drinks discreetly without anyone realizing it.
“It would not be weird to see a girl swirl around her drink with her finger, as she could be mixing her drink, but it might be weird if you see her take out a stick [to stir her drink],” said Kathryn Ripberger, a senior studying English education.
This is a very real issue that affects more people than one might first realize, explained Tom Miller, Director of the Entrepreneurship Initiative at NC State.
“It’s a problem for students and is very much in the news. There are a lot of universities that have been in the spotlight for the amount of sexual assault on campuses,” Miller said.
Maloney explained the importance of the funding and what it means for the Wolfpack community.
“I think our funding success says a great deal about the growing startup community in Raleigh, particularly the quality of individuals who work in this area and the types of projects in which they like to invest,” Maloney said. “It’s a great place to be right now, and it’s only getting better.”