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Campus Celebrity: Bryan Silverman

You might recognize Bryan from around campus, possibly from his many posts in the Duke Class of 2015 Facebook group, maybe you read about him in USA Today and the Huffington Post, or you may have even caught his television appearances on CBS or Fox Business. No matter what your news outlet of preference, Bryan is one Duke student you shouldn’t have missed.

Bryan and his older brother, Jordan, co-founded the start-up company Star Toilet Paper. Star Toilet Paper makes toilet paper that features advertisements and coupons. Now, there may not be many start-ups that can boast the kind of media recognition and attention Star Toilet Paper can, however, it wasn’t easy “to take it from a small idea that was written down on [Jordan’s] phone to what it is now.” The idea finally turned into a real project in fall 2010 when they started to file the paper work to become a real business and it wasn’t until this past summer that it really took off.

What was the process involved in starting Star Toilet Paper?

“It was long. It took us about a year to find a printer. I mean toilet paper printers aren’t abundant across the United States. In addition to that there is a lot of legal paperwork that you have to fill out that you don’t know of until you actually do it. We learned along the way. We called family and friends, but we did a lot of the research—market research, legal research—by ourselves.”

What has been the most challenging part so far?

“I’d say the most challenging part was really getting into the swing of things. Really coming from what was my brother calling me and saying can you make this ad to this summer. We really kicked it into high gear. We worked 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. It wouldn’t feel like work it would be something I would enjoy doing, but it’s very different from working two hours a week on this when I didn’t know what it was.”

How hard was it to find advertisers?

“You’re making cold calls and you’re repeatedly being told “no, no, no” before they even listen to what your product is. Every time you hear “no”—at first I took it personally, but it’s something you can’t take personally. I’m sure these people get tons of calls everyday. It’s just moving past that and getting that much closer to somebody who is going to say yes. ”

What is your biggest accomplishment so far?

“I was recently named one of five finalists in Entrepreneur Magazine’s College Entrepreneur of the Year because of this idea and because of this business. That was really an honor. Then kind of off of that we had interviews with CBS, CNN… we’ve been live, we’ve had tape interviews. It was right before school that all of that happened. It was really a surreal experience. It was something I never could have imagined I was going to do going into my sophomore year of college.”

What else are you currently involved in?

“At Duke I’m in AEPi. I do a lot with Duke entrepreneurship as well. I try to help out when I see people tabling for philanthropies and stuff like that. I try to help out whether it’s giving blood or giving money by paying for a cup of hot chocolate. I’m big into Duke sports as well. “

What are your plans for the future of Star Toilet Paper?

“At the moment our goal is to get a new advertiser a week, each of us. I’m hoping to expand down here in Durham. We are in the process of hiring a few full-time employees. As well my brother is taking it on full-time.”


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