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Jordan Silverman is currently a student at the University of Michigan and the co-founder of Star Toilet Paper. Star Toilet Paper is a niche advertising company that prints advertisements and coupons on toilet paper. Through the utilization of a two-step process, Star Toilet Paper helps public restrooms get toilet paper for a discounted rate and helps local companies spend their money in a more cost efficient and effective manner.
Based out of Ann Arbor, MI the company officially hit market this past fall and currently has two venues carrying the toilet paper and about a dozen advertisers. Come summer the company will expand to the east coast and get venues in Westchester, NY, New York City, and Boston. Keep your eye open for our product in a venue near you and remember, Don’t Rush, Look Before You Flush!
MO: You’re lucky enough to have two different angles to your business. Can you break down the 2 separate aspects of Star Toilet Paper and the distinct advantages they provide?
Jordan: Star Toilet Paper utilizes a two-step process to ensure everyone is happy. The first step is to obtain a venue to carry our printed toilet paper. We target public restrooms with a high volume of users; so far we have an apartment building and a dance studio, and are looking to expand to a bar, movie theater, and bowling alley by the Summer. The second aspect of our company is obtaining advertisers. We give our toilet paper to the venue for either 50% off or free (depending on venue size) and therefore our revenue comes in from advertisers. By getting a venue before advertisers we ensure that companies are reaching the exact target market they wish to hit in their advertising campaign. Advertising starts at only $100 for 20,000 ads or half a cent per ad.
The purpose of the two-step process is for venues to get cheap, quality two-ply toilet paper, for advertisers to reach a specific demographic, and for consumers to have great coupons at their fingertips that they will actually use and want to look at.
MO: Since toilet paper advertising is a completely new concept, what did your research and development process look like?
Jordan: We utilized a number of R&D techniques to ensure that we had good market research and initial numbers. The first thing we did was file for a provisional patent to protect our idea; once this was done we sent out a survey to everyone we know. This survey was very telling because it showed us that over 75% of people said they would read advertisements and coupons on toilet paper. This is an integral number for us because we believe traditional advertising falls victim to ad blindness, people not looking at your ad, and this number shows that we are effective and reaching a captured audience. We also talked to people in the toilet paper, procurement, and advertising industries. This helped us set our price point at half a cent per ad, which we think is one of the best around.
Over the summer we printed up our first set of prototype rolls and have been mailing them out to companies, giving them out, and promoting our company and other companies. Two important numbers came from this. The first is that we have six companies advertising on every roll (eight total if you include an ad for us and a free ad for the venue), every company on the prototype recommended other companies to advertise with us in the future. This is because they each saw unique benefits associated with our low price and unique form of reaching a target audience. The second important number that came from this is that we found people are more likely to buy from a company they see advertising with us. These initial surveys and interviews with experts is what helps make our company unique and effective.
MO: Who do you see as your target market for advertising? It seems that some companies may be reluctant to advertise on material that doesn’t have the most glamorous of reputations?
Jordan: Our biggest obstacle is getting companies to look past the stigma of advertising on toilet paper. One of the first questions we always get is well why would I advertise where someone is going to wipe you know what? And we always answer by asking if they agree that advertising is about getting their product noticed by potential customers? If this truly is the case, which we strongly believe it is, then our form of advertising is just a more effective way to reach a captured audience. Our advertising slogan is Advertise Where Everyone Will See! And we think we are helping companies do exactly this for only half a cent per ad.
The companies we target for advertising is any company who is trying to reach the given target market and is interested in getting new clients in an efficient manner. Sounds like every company right? This is part of the reason we currently have an: ice cream store, pharmacy, smoothie store, chiropractor, dance studio, pet store, mattress store, Mediterranean restaurant, tutor, and sandwich place. We are looking for any company trying to bring in more clients.
MO: What are the benefits for both the venues supplying and the advertisers using Star Toilet Paper?
Jordan: The benefit for venues is multi-faceted. First and foremost they get a heavy discount on their toilet paper supply; we currently are supplying all of our venues with toilet paper for $0. The second benefit for venues is that all of our toilet paper is made form recycled material, which is a great way for venues and public buildings to make a push to be green.
The major benefit for companies advertising with Star Toilet Paper lies in our uniqueness. This is a brand new product and something that is absolutely going to catch your eye. We understand that the stigma of advertising on toilet paper exists, but if you are sitting in the bathroom and see our product aren’t you going to look through the coupons? The other major benefit is that most traditional forms of advertising are quite expensive and for local businesses they are not reasonable. We are offering a unique and cost efficient form of advertising that every type of company should be interested in.
MO: My first reaction when reading about Star Toilet Paper was that I didn’t want any inks or dyes anywhere near my TP. How have you gone about creating a product that is both environmentally friendly and safe to use on the most sensitive skin?
Jordan: This is a great question and an obvious concern. However, all of our ink is soybean based, comfortable to use, and septic safe. This helps us ensure that our product is not only safe for you to use, but also safe for your plumbing and toilet system. This ink has been utilized for over thirty-five years in a hypoallergenic and septic safe way. In Ann Arbor we have been giving out the rolls for people to try and use and so far everyone has loved it and we have not experienced any problems. Also, all of our toilet paper is made from recycled materials, which is important to us in trying to make a little difference.
MO: You clearly demonstrate the entrepreneurial spirit- what is next on the horizon for you?
Jordan: I first want to thank you for this amazing opportunity. I hope all of your readers enjoy and I want to stress that if they have any questions about Star Toilet Paper or starting a company and the ups and downs associated to email me at email@example.com or call me at (914) 844-5775.
I graduate from University of Michigan this May and by that time we will hopefully have three venues in Ann Arbor carrying our printed toilet paper. Upon graduation I will move back to Rye Brook, NY, my hometown, where I will bring our product to market in the tri-state area. Besides focusing our time and efforts on getting venues in this area, we will also file for a full utility patent and possibly license our product and idea out to larger toilet paper manufacturing and procurement companies. We offer great benefits to venues, advertisers, and consumers and are hoping by the end of 2012 we will have our product in 10 venues and have over 100 advertisers. On the horizon, hopefully everyone will be able to find our product in a public restroom by them. Remember, Don’t Rush, Look Before You Flush!