Gross, yes, but there was money to be made, and a business was born.
After graduating in 2008, Williams went to work for an investment firm. On the side, he began consulting engineers and intellectual property attorneys to develop some prototypes for the first LavCup and apply for patents.
He and his father put together about $15,000 to get the prototypes made with a silver ion coating to fight off germs. "I maxed out multiple credit cards. It was really risky, but I truly believed in the idea."
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Williams lives in the Scranton, Pa., area, famous for "The Office" (one of LavCup's investors actually owned a paper company). One night early on he ran into Kris Jones, the creator of Pepperjam, a marketing company now part of eBay.
"I approached him in a Chinese restaurant when he was with his wife." Jones also went to Villanova, so Williams gave him his elevator pitch. It worked. The two men ended up meeting at Starbucks later for a two-hour interview, and Jones became LavCup's first investor. Since then, others have come in, including those involved in a local casino, a racetrack and the aforementioned paper guy.
Eventually, Williams said he got several hundred thousand dollars in seed money, and Front Row Marketing began helping him land deals for LavCups in stadiums and arenas. He just got a contract with CenturyLink Field, home to the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders. "Twelve hundred units are flying to Seattle now."
Here's how the business model works. LavCups are provided to entertainment venues for free, but the company shares in the advertising revenue for ads placed on the shelves. Since nearly everyone at a football game goes to the bathroom at least once, that's a compelling pitch to advertisers. "We can guarantee their ad will be seen by everyone. You can't say that about an ad in the concourse."
I pointed out the only issue might be the name. LavCup makes me think of going to the doctor to provide a sample. Williams said he was looking for a name that was memorable, like Kleenex or TiVo. To help create buzz around the product, Williams has created a six-second Vine video which sums up its usefulness. Investor Brandon Igdalsky, owner of the Pocono Raceway, also made a video.
The hardest part has been "in the field" research. Williams has taken several photographs showing how people handle their drinks around toilets and urinals. "It's just so awkward taking pictures in a restroom," he said. "A lot of times I've forgotten to turn off the flash, and I've heard people say, 'Some dude is taking pictures of himself in a stall.'"
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But it's all in the name of research, fame and fortune! "In five years I want to be in every single hospitality venue," Williams said, not just stadiums and arenas, but airports, rest stops, casinos. "Everyone goes to the bathroom."
—By CNBC's Jane Wells. Follow her on Twitter: @janewells