SOBROS, Diamond Challenge 2019 Finalist
The idea for SOBROS started out with a simple conversation. Larissa Tyagi, a member of the award-winning Diamond Challenge team, recalls: “I had a friend in college who was telling me about her experiences with drink spiking in frats/sororities and it got me thinking about how there’s no subtle, instant way to check your drink to see if it’s been spiked in a situation like that.” Unfortunately, drink spiking is a very commonplace issue in the college environment. In a recent study published in the American Psychological Association journal’s Psychology of Violence, a research team led by Suzanne C. Swan, PhD, of the University of South Carolina found about 1 in 13 college students report having been drugged or suspect they were drugged. This staggering statistic only underlines the importance of finding a viable solution to such a prevalent problem in colleges. Luckily, SOBROS is looking to provide some peace of mind to college students and their family members, devising a clever dissolvable film that can be slipped into a drink and turn a fluorescent color in the presence of drugs like Rophynol and Ketamine. This ingenious proposal allows college students to finally ensure their safety in an easy and subtle manner. SOBROS certainly impressed the judges at Diamond Challenge 2019, ultimately winning third place in the Social Innovation track.
When SOBROS team members first realized they were pitching at the Diamond Challenge Summit, they were extremely nervous and apprehensive. Team member Larissa Tyagi recalled: “I went to the Summit expecting a stressful typical pitch competition with a hyper-competitive environment.” What she came to realize was that the Diamond Challenge was so much more than just a contest between her team and other students. She came out of the Summit with a completely different perspective of the Diamond Challenge: “It was so much more than a pitch competition. I made lasting friendships with kids from over 10 different countries who were eager to share their culture and talk about their passion projects with my teammates and I. Over the course of the two days I expanded my professional network, made countless memories with my new friends, and learned about the plethora of opportunities Diamond Challenge provides for young entrepreneurs like myself.”
The process for developing their idea involved a lot of planning, research, and patience. They started brainstorming at a four week startup incubator for high-schoolers. From there, they conducted enormous amounts of market research: interviews, phone calls, and meetings with over 50 students and university officials, all to ensure they had a good grasp of the logistics required to create their product. Their hard work later paid off during the competition, a process that Larissa advises future participants to make sure they really flesh out: “It’s really important that your idea has a solid foundation. Once you identify the issue you are trying to solve, do LOTS of market research. Know your customer inside out. The hours you put in during these early stages will really pay off later.”
The Diamond Challenge helped SOBROS develop valuable skills that will be extremely beneficial to them in their future endeavors. Larissa says: “Competing in the Diamond Challenge pushed me to be my best self. Whether it be public speaking, professional networking, or simply making new friends from other countries I grew tremendously as a budding entrepreneur and a person. Overall the experience allowed me to become more confident in myself and my ideas.” The SOBROS team are looking to continue research on their idea, with one of their teammates attending college as a freshman in the fall.
“The Diamond Challenge helped us solidify our idea so that we can go into the research process with a clear, organized plan of what we want to build.” Larissa explains.
We wish SOBROS success on their path of entrepreneurship, and wait with excitement to see what they accomplish in the future!
No matter where our Diamond Challenge alumni go, we are constantly amazed by how they continue to make an impact on the world for the better.
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About Horn Entrepreneurship
Horn Entrepreneurship serves as the University of Delaware’s creative engine for entrepreneurship education and advancement. Built and actively supported by successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders, Horn Entrepreneurship empowers aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs as they pursue new ideas for a better world.