He noticed every other guy in the bathroom was also trying to balance a beer on the urinal, on the floor, in a pocket or holding it between his teeth.
"I walk out, and I see a line by the bathroom," he says. "Everyone in line is carrying beer, the women are carrying purses walking in, and I'm like, 'This is crazy. Why isn't there a functional piece in the bathroom?'"
Williams imagined a simple shelf next to toilets or urinals that could hold a beer, phone or pocketbook.
Then he got a second idea. While in the bathroom, he noticed a newspaper tucked above the urinal. He was reading it as he stood there, a captive audience.
Hmmmm. He needed a shelf for his beer. He was looking at something while he stood there. "How can we marry the two?" Williams asked himself. What if he created a shelf that held advertising?
Williams walked back to his seat at the bar, wrote his idea down on a napkin, then immediately left. "I was like, 'I can't get too drunk here tonight. I need to remember this idea.'"
Over the next few months, the idea percolated in Williams' young brain. He'd always been an entrepreneur — at the age of 10 he would buy unsold size 14 Jordans from local shoe stores, reselling them for top dollar on Ebay; at 16 he attempted to patent a scratch-resistant CD. He was the type of person who always saw problems that need solutions.
"I can come across as very pessimistic sometimes, when I'm complaining when a door opens one way, when I think it should open the other," he says. "I'm like, 'Why am I carrying groceries and this door pulls and doesn't push? Don't they know that people are walking out with stuff?'"
Williams scraped together $65,000 by maxing out credit cards and borrowing from his dad and two investors. He used the money to hire an engineering firm that developed a prototype for his beer shelf. He named the product LavCup, with the tagline, "Because you can't hold it."