Fishers and Hamilton County and Patent and Inventions and Small Biz Startups and Small Business

Engineer doubles as inventor

December 26, 2009

Product: device that installs toilet-paper rolls into walls

Address: 11318 E. 136th St.

Phone: 517-6467

E-mail: chadw@lifegrid.com

Web site: hiddentoiletpaper.com

Founded: April

Owner:
Chad Walters

Owner’s background: Walters, 36, graduated from the IUPUI School of Engineering and Technology. He has since spent 17 years as an electronic engineer, designing products for companies like Troy, Mich.-based Delphi; Washington, D.C.-based XM Radio; and New York-based Sirius Radio.

Chad Walters invented a device to protect toilet paper from pets and kids. (IBJ Photo/Robin Jerstad)
Why started business: Frequently visiting the home of a former business partner, Walters noticed his associate always kept his bathroom door shut. The reason, Walters said, stemmed from his partner’s cats, which would get into the toilet paper and spin it all over the house. The father of a 2-year-old son, Walters had experienced a similar problem keeping his toddler from tampering with the toilet paper.

“I thought, ‘You know what, why do we have the toilet paper hanging on the wall?’” Walters said.

So he developed a square compartment to go into the wall to make the toilet paper less conspicuous. Users open a flap on the front of the compartment, where the toilet paper is attached on the other side. Once finished, users can flip the front piece back into the wall so the toilet paper is out of sight.

In 2005, Walters began seeking a patent for the product. Finally, with a patent and a Web site, he began selling the Hidden Toilet Paper device online in April for $24.99.

Competitive advantage:
Having a product no one else does, Walters said he is confident he can succeed.

“Once the word is out that there is a product out there that keeps your pets away from the toilet paper, that’s going to give us a huge push,” Walters said.

As homeowners remodel bathrooms and search for new products, Walters believes, Hidden Toilet Paper will have a large demographic interested in its services.

“Everyone has toilet paper in their house,” he said. “On a national average, every home has two bathrooms. Residential remodels for bathrooms in 2008 came to about 700,000 bathrooms. So there’s a huge market for us.”

Startup cost: $125,000 to $150,000

Funding source:
self-financed

Projected first-year revenue:
$30,000

Potential problem and contingency plan: Having financed his operation himself, Walters has paid dearly to get Hidden Toilet Paper off the ground, including packaging, branding and trying to get the product on retail shelves. So he is seeking help.

“Right now, we’re looking for an investor to partner with us to make the product bigger,” Walters said. “The product is great; everybody loves it. The problem is, no one knows about it.”

First-year goal: Find an investor and persuade Menards, Lowe’s and Home Depot to carry the product.

Five-year vision:
Take Hidden Toilet Paper nationwide.•

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