Zayna Pieper is a senior at CU Boulder and founder of Frenz. Her company helps prevent involuntary drugging through a phone accessory that allows you to test your drinks for common date-rape drugs.Studying Engineering Plus with a focus in mechanical engineering and concentration in engineering management, Zayna did not always see herself as an entrepreneur, but she is passionate about the topic of sexual assault. When the opportunity to build Frenz and really pursue it in order to impact people in a meaningful way was presented, she just couldn't let it pass.
Testing for spiked drinks
The idea for Frenz came about in a course called Invention and Innovation. Zayna’s team of six discussed the issues they saw around campus and landed upon the issue of sexual assault. Zayna’s team researched the topic* and was surprised to learn that 23% of women will have been assaulted by the time they graduate and 7.6% of college students (translating to 1.2 million students currently enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities) will be drugged by the time they graduate.
“Women in particular, but also men and members of the LGTBQ community, are really at risk when they explore the journey that is college.”
To help individuals be safe and aware of what they are consuming, Zayna and her team worked on creating a phone accessory that houses chemical test strips, making an easy and discrete way to test your drink for common date-rape drugs. Frenz works with Undercover Colors to procure their chemical tests, which tests for the top six date-rape drugs with 99.3% accuracy. The test is similar to a pregnancy test: users see one line if the drink has been drugged, and two if it has not.
Testing the tests
Zayna and her team made nine different prototypes and conducted market testing, by sending the tests out into the real world with students who provided feedback.
“One of the best parts about using potential customers for prototyping is that they tell you exactly what they need.”
Zayna is now in the process of creating multiple design iterations and starting quality testing to ensure this something people can use for a long time. She is also preparing for the New Venture Challenge and taking advantage of the great workshops campus has to offer.
The opportunity to explore entrepreneurship in her courses and connect with campus mentors helped Zayna fill in the aspects of the business that she might have missed. She also pursued an independent study that allowed her to focus on the product and move it forward. The most difficult part of the process for Zayna is actually believing she can do it:
“It’s a lot of work, but the outcome makes it absolutely worth it. Frenz is something that has the chance to change lives for the better.”
Advice for students
The key is to not be afraid, to communicate and to engage with those that want to help. “Find mentors and build meaningful relationships with them. There are a lot of people willing to invest time and support your entrepreneurial journey.”