Categorized | Shoestring Startup

Star Toilet Paper: Don’t Rush Look Before You Flush

Name of your company and URStar Toilet Paper: Don’t Rush Look Before You FlushL?

The name of my company is Star Toilet Paper and our website is: www.startoiletpaper.com

Star Toilet Paper was started in the Fall of 2010

What is your product or service?

Star Toilet Paper is a niche advertising company that prints advertisements and coupons on toilet paper. Our company has two sides, the first is as a toilet paper supplier, we supply venues (apartment buildings, bars, stadiums, etc.) with printed toilet paper for 50% less than what they currently pay. After finding a venue, we go out and obtain companies to advertise with us. This second step has two major benefits for advertisers: the first is that ads/coupons are only $0.005 (half a cent) each and the second is that companies are able to advertise in front of a specific target market and where everyone will see!

Why did you start your company?

We started our company because we realized that an untapped advertising niche existed. Very few new markets exist, and we believe that this is what makes our startup so exciting.

How was it financed?

Both myself and my brother Bryan are college students and for that reason we only had a few thousand dollars each to invest. The fact that it is very important to us to maintain 100% equity in our company meant we did not want to accept outside funding from venture capitalists. So far we have spent about $3,000 on our startup on: business and legal filings, insurance, prototypes, and website costs.

Date officially launched?

Star Toilet Paper: Don’t Rush Look Before You FlushWe officially launched in the Fall 2010, but officially started getting venues and advertisers August 2011.

What free online or offline tools do you use?

Google:

- Webmaster Tools:

- This is how we ensure that our SEO is working correctly and that our site is being crawled. I can ensure that my site is not only configured correctly, but also can see diagnostics.

- Google Analytics:

- Allows us to track the daily hits to our page and where they come from. By knowing our demographics and users, we better understand who is going to our site and we can in turn cater to these people and attempt to know what people we are not correctly reaching.

- Docs:

- As a startup it is integral to get feedback based on your product and we have been taking surveys of the people using our prototype. We want to know how they like it, how effective the ads are, and overall what people think of it.

Survey Monkey:

- When our company was first started we utilized SurveyMonkey to better understand what people initially thought of the idea. It is here that we got our number that 75% of people would read advertisements and coupons on toilet paper. We also utilized it to get background information on our prototype and found that all of the companies recommended other companies to advertise with us.

Websites:

- Inc., Trend Hunter, Startup Nation, Business on Main, AdWeek, Click Density, and Klout

- All of these are websites that have great information for startups on a daily and weekly basis

Do you use Social Media tools like Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn or ? Provide exact URL of each

Social Media:

- Twitter: www.twitter.com/startoiletpaper

- Facebook: www.facebook.com/startoiletpaper

- Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/startoiletpaper

YouTube – Do you have a YouTube video URL that you can share with us, and allow us to publish with your story (Actual video our readers should watch within the story, looks something like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JryvKNIbdA)

N/A

How many people are currently working, including employees (freelancers or independent contractors for specific projects)?

We have three total employees: Jordan Silverman (Co-Founder), Bryan Silverman (Co-Founder), and Jason Rak (CFO)

What is the best advice you never got?

The best advice I never got was how hard it is to really start a company. There are so many obstacles on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis that take confidence and passion to overcome. Every startup works hard and spends the necessary time, what is important is spending your time wisely and being fiscally responsible. People are going to tell you everyday your startup is not going to work and you have to be able to turn this doubt into passion and something beneficial. Every time a company tells me no, I try to take a lesson away from it that will help me grow and in the future make our clients happy.

What almost killed your business in the start?

The person I originally told the idea quit. The first day we went to a patent attorney with our idea and his mind was everywhere. We were there to find out if we could patent printing advertisements and coupons on toilet paper (we currently have a provisional patent) and he was talking about totally different things. It was from that moment on I knew he would not be involved and my brother and Jason stepped in and our company would not be where it is today without them.

Star Toilet Paper: Don’t Rush Look Before You FlushWhat is the one thing that you did right?

Never given up. As I alluded to above, it is difficult to overcome the naysayers, but what separates the successful companies from the failed startups is being able to overcome the obstacles and learn from every experience.

Another important aspect of Star Toilet Paper that makes us a shoestring startup is that we did not spread ourselves too thin. Rather than try to start at large stadiums or other huge venues, we wanted to start small. We know that we have to get the name out and start bringing in revenue before we can even consider moving on to larger venues.

What was the biggest transition you had to make (i.e. new skill set, habits, abilities, focus)?

The big transition we had to make was to somehow overcome the stigma of printing advertisements and coupons on toilet paper. The first question everyone asks me is well why would a company advertise where people are going to you know what? My answer is that advertising is about getting your product recognized, and our product is the perfect way to do so. The important transition we made was with the help of an advisor who recommended we put coupon codes on each ad. This will allow users to go to our website and enter in a code to redeem a pdf of our coupons. Overall, we hope that this will allow us to overcome the stigma that many companies associate with our product.

Are you currently in the black or red?

Our company is currently in the red because we believe it is important for a startup to re-invest all profits back into the company. The money we make from venues and advertisers goes directly into the company for more prototype rolls, revamping our website, and other costs.

What type of marketing or advertising do you do?

We are big proponents of guerilla marketing. We love to chalk, hang up flyers, and give out rolls of our prototype to people all over Ann Arbor.

What would make your business more “Successful”?

The thing that could really take our company off the ground is if a major advertising company recognized us as a force and recommended their clients to advertise on our product. This is something that could truly take our company to the next level and make us more successful.

Would you want to be acquired by a bigger company, run it yourself or sell in a couple of years?

Right now we are very happy running the company on our own. It is a passion of ours and we could not imagine selling or working for another company. It is great to be your own boss and although there are many obstacles to overcome with being a co-founder, the rewards are that much better.

What do you think your projected annual revenue will be?

We are hoping that for fiscal year 2012, we will have revenue of about $10,000. This would mean that we have acquired about 10 venues and 100 advertisers.

How long do you think it will take you to get to your projected annual revenue?

Hopefully by this time next year we will be rapidly approaching that mark, if not surpassing it.

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