Nineteen year old Bryan Silverman has always been on the path to success. In high school he was a member of three varsity sports teams and was president of Model UN and High School Congress.
Now, the Duke University sophomore is currently proving why some of the most prosperous ventures lie within the road less traveled as the founder of Star Toilet Paper with his older brother Jordan.
Bryan’s creation provides the public with a unique yet incredibly useful service in the form of toilet paper printed with ads and coupons that allow users to save money on various different items and brands. A company with a total of four employees, Bryan is seizing the moment by taking advantage of all the business tactics he has learned in life, choosing to follow his heart rather than abiding by the conventional methods of advancement for those his age.
Bryan’s hard working and passionate attitude is constantly diving him to expand his network and advertising base in order for his entrepreneurial endeavors to reach more people every day. Elite caught up with Bryan to find out what motivated to star Star Toilet Paper along with what influences the decisions he makes to always lead his business in the right direction.
Essentially the hardest thing to do in life is to actually believe and commit to your ideas. Who has inspired you or mentored you the most in taking your dreams to action?
To be honest, and it may sound cliché, it has been my brother. The drive that I see in him compares to the motivation I see in nobody else. People always say that working with family is a bad idea. However, I could not imagine going through any of this with anyone other than him.
We are frank with each other and have the ability to communicate in a way that others just aren’t able to. Watching him work and having the same dream as him has made this from just an idea into the reality it is today.
Which entrepreneur inspires you the most?
I would say that there are two people that inspire me the most. The first would be my grandfather, who started his own business with his brother. They started from the ground up and grew their company into a multi-state, successful firm.
My other inspiration falls to Robert Herjavec. Our companies could not be more different, but what makes him so inspirational to me is his passion. One of my favorite shows is ABC’s “Shark Tank” and Mr. Herjavec is one of the investors on it.
He is always the one to talk about how he believes in the entrepreneurs he invests in not only because he believes in their ideas, but because of the passion they evoke and how much they care about their product. It is the drive and enthusiasm I see in him that I hope to emulate in my behavior.
We all know how distracting college can be, what is your strategy for finding the right balance between your social life, academic life, and entrepreneur life?
Everybody says that college is the best 4 years of your life and you can’t miss out on it. However, part of the college experience is experiencing things and doing things that you couldn’t before. The fact that my “thing” is being an entrepreneur and starting Star Toilet Paper makes me beyond proud. In regards to balancing this with social life and academic life, I find that they are all intertwined with one another.
Whether this is taking a class on business models to learn more about some obvious tools of entrepreneurship or a class on computer science to learn how the back end of our website works, there is always something you can take out of a class that can be modeled towards entrepreneurship.
In regards to social life, my friends help me with the company and enjoy it. Just as I would go out of my way to help them with some sort of philanthropy or a concert they are throwing, they are happy to help me flyer and spread the word about Star TP. I don’t look at it as something I need to balance with school, but rather an integral part of my college experience.
You’ve essentially found a new way to tackle an old problem? What was the epiphany moment when you decided to put advertising on such a traditional product?
My brother came to me with the idea and at first, I honestly thought he was crazy. However, he began to tell me about the captive audience, the mutually beneficial situation for all parties involved, and the multitude of other benefits.
At that point, I knew this had to become the next big marketing tool. From that point on, we did market research and realized our niche is the intersection of the $100 billion print advertising industry and the $4 billion commercial toilet paper market.
What is your biggest tip for entrepreneurs?
To take your idea and make it into a reality. If there is something that you really believe in, then go after it. The worst thing that happens is you will be doing something you enjoy and believe in. The best thing is that you take that on and make your dream into a living.
5, 10, 50 years down the line when you’ve achieved everything you aspire for today, where do you see yourself?
I want to be able to play a large part in pushing entrepreneurship in high schools and universities. So many people have great ideas that they simply do not think they can create a business out of. With a little encouragement and some tools to help them start, I would love to see more young people become entrepreneurs.
A quote that one of my teachers in high school hung up behind her desk read, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius. I take this to heart and would love to see others be able to work on what they love and are passionate about every day.
Everyone aspires for success, but what drives you to work so hard?
My drive derives from three places: my family, my peers and myself. My family has always pushed me, but always in a way that encouraged me to work hard at what I wanted to work hard at. They always wanted me to try my best and give 110% at what I was interested in.
I want to show them that I am working hard and I want to make them proud. I also want to show my peers that they can do what I am doing. It takes some (very) hard work, but to me, it’s not work when you enjoy it. And finally I think that you need to have an inherent drive to take something from one level to the next. Whether that is in sports, academics, or business, you can always get better.
What fundamental courses and skills have you acquired at Duke which you have found to be essential for building your own endeavors?
I always tell people that Duke breeds people for the real world. Not bookworms or people who will just do well on tests, but people who are sociable and will be able to succeed in the world. Interacting with these people every day, both students and faculty, and seeing the amazing things others students are doing pushes me harder to make this dream into a reality.
Because I am majoring in neuroscience, people always tell me, “well then your brother must be a business major.” However, he graduated with a degree in philosophy. And it is this unique combination that makes us such a great team to bring this to fruition. You are the average of the five people you surround yourselves with, making Duke the perfect setting.
Sean Levinson | Elite.