The $220M Empire Built From Sponge

Crazy backstory of Aaron Krause and Scrub Daddy


The $220M Sponge Empire

Crazy backstory of Aaron Krause and Scrub Daddy

“If you have a great idea that you truly believe in – no matter how big or small – the only way it will ever become successful is if you take a chance and act on it.”

We all eat. We all clean.

These are some of the simple, everyday actions that bind us as humans.

While most of us perform these tasks without a second thought, some find the spark of greatness within them.

And build an empire in the process.

It’s often smallest concepts – those overlooked ideas that lurk in the corners of our daily lives…

That transform into monumental movements which the world has to sit back and applaud.

And that’s exactly what this story is about.

Ingenuity. Action. Self-belief.

These three hold the keys to a kingdom you never thought was possible.

Today we dive into the epic journey of Aaron Krause, CEO of Scrub Daddy.

An inspiring example of how innovation, adaptability, and strategic partnerships can transform a simple idea into a multi-million dollar enterprise and a household name.

Today on David to Goliath:

The Spark of Innovation

Every legendary journey begins with a spark, a flicker of brilliance that dares to defy.

For Aaron Krause, that spark erupted into a wildfire at an age when most kids are content just playing in the backyard.

In the unassuming town of Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, a young Aaron didn't just dream – he acted. He invented.

Night after night, long after bedtime, his mind buzzed with ideas as he read by the dim light in his room.

At just 10 years old, he shattered the constraints of ordinary thinking, devising a rope and pulley system to turn off his bedroom lights from the comfort of his bed.

This was more than a child's ingenuity; it was a harbinger of the revolutionary problem-solver he was destined to become.

“That was the first time I realized I could come up with a crazy idea, build something, and change my world,” Aaron recalls. “From then, I literally started looking at the world completely different.”

That moment was the dawn of a relentless pursuit of innovation, a relentless pursuit that blazed through the halls of his high school and college.

While his peers were chasing grades, Aaron was off hustling, and began earning his own money by cleaning and washing cars in his neighborhood.

Laying down the blueprint for his future empire.

The Road Less Travelled

After graduating from Syracuse University with a psychology degree, Aaron faced a momentous crossroad.

Conventional wisdom urged him towards a safe, predictable career path.

But Aaron had other plans.

He plunged headfirst into his car-washing business, a move that left his parents devastated.

“To me, I wasn’t simply a car washer – I was the president and CEO of a company,”

In the pursuit of perfection, Aaron experimented with urethane foam to polish cars, dissatisfied with the buffing pads on the market.

“I’ve been inventing since I was a kid, but this was the first time I’d acted on it. From the moment I tried my new buffing pad, I knew that it was something extraordinary.”

His creation, a double-sided buffing pad, was a game-changer.

“My mom was crying. My grandma said, ‘Just disown him!’ And my dad said, ‘Son, you have until the end of the summer to make it a real business and get it out of my garage.’”

Undeterred by the emotional upheaval, Aaron sold his car-washing business to focus on his innovative buffing pads.

It solved persistent problems in car detailing and laid the foundation for Dedication To Detail, a company that soon captured the attention of industry giant 3M.

But the most significant chapter of Aaron’s story was yet to be written.

Big Daddy Scrub

Imagine this: your hands are perpetually covered in a stubborn layer of oil and grease, no matter what you use.

This was Aaron’s reality as he developed the machinery needed to manufacture his innovative buffing pads.

“Naturally, I decided to invent a product to clean them. I requested samples from every foam supplier and finally, a German company tailor-made a foam for me. It was a miracle.”

In his quest for the perfect cleaning tool, Aaron created a unique urethane foam sponge and cut it into a ridged circle with two holes in the middle for better grip.

And just like that, a smiley-faced sponge stared back at him.

This was the birth of ‘Scrub Daddy’, though its true potential would remain hidden until 2011.

Fast forward to 2008, Aaron had sold his buffing pad business to the global fortune 500 manufacturing giant 3M.

But there was one exception:

“They had no interest in my original patented products, so they removed Scrub Daddy from the deal and bought the rest.”

At this point, Scrub Daddy was put away to languish in the back of a factory, stuffed in a box labelled "scrap."

Then by chance later that year, Aaron's wife asked him to clean their lawn furniture.

Desperate for a solution, he remembered the box of forgotten sponges.

“It’s amazing how many times Scrub Daddy almost didn’t happen. For three years, I had millions of dollars in sales sitting in an old box.”

As he dipped the sponge into a bucket of hot water, it became completely soft.

Unknowingly, Aaron had developed a dual-texture, scratch-free sponge that softened in warm water and hardened in cold water.

“It worked so well on the lawn furniture that I decided to test it out on the dishes. The rest is history.”

Aaron secured a patent and invested $75,000 into producing an initial batch with all-new packaging. This was the moment of truth.

The sponge’s ability to change texture with water temperature made it perfect for various cleaning tasks, revolutionizing the market.

“I knew right away this was destined to be the best dishwashing tool in the world. Daddy went from a neglected idea in a scrap box to a must-have tool in households everywhere.”

In 2012, Aaron secured a feature in the Philadelphia Inquirer and two successful appearances on QVC, an American free-to-air home shopping television channel, where Scrub Daddy sold out within minutes.

These milestones set the stage for the next big leap.

Shark Tank.

The Road to Recognition

After discovering that Scrub Daddy was just as effective for washing dishes as it was for cleaning lawn furniture, Aaron continued to face scepticism from his coworkers at 3M.

“They said, ‘Oh, you’re crazy. It’s a wasted product”.

But Aaron, ever the determined entrepreneur, knew he could convert the doubters if they saw his invention in action.

Handing out sponges for his colleagues to test, he quickly won them over.

And once he patented his invention, he started selling it at his friend's chain of local grocery stores. The response was explosive.

“He came to me after a couple of days and said, ‘I’ve never seen anything like it. We normally sell two or three sponges a day, you’re selling 200 to 300 in one of my stores. You need to go to every one of my stores and do that,’”

The success snowballed.

Selling Scrub Daddy online and on QVC, Aaron became a fan favorite, bolstering his confidence enough to try out for his favorite show—ABC’s Shark Tank.

“One night, my wife and I were watching Shark Tank, when I realized that I’d be crazy not to go on the show.”

After two months of intense preparation, Aaron found himself on set in Los Angeles, filming for the fourth season.

Watch the episode unfold here.

After an intense round of back and forth, and the sharks vying for his partnership, he battled them down until he hit gold.  

A $200,000 investment for a 20% equity stake from entrepreneur and judge Lori Greiner, the queen of QVC.

A match made in heaven.

Better yet, he even looked Kevin O’Leary in the eye and said ‘you’re out’ following his offer.


The impact was immediate and overwhelming.

After the episode aired, Scrub Daddy crossed a million dollars in sales within 24 hours.

Today, Scrub Daddy stands as the most successful product in Shark Tank history.

Now it was time to conquer the market.

Conquering the Market

With Lori Greiner’s backing, Scrub Daddy underwent a transformative redesign, adopting its now-iconic smiley face shape.

This design wasn't just about adding a fun element; it revolutionized cleaning efficiency.

The smiley face allowed users to effortlessly clean tight corners and crevices, quickly making it a favorite among consumers.

Scrub Daddy’s popularity skyrocketed, becoming a staple in American households.

The company expanded its product line, introducing Scrub Mommy, dual-sided sponges, and color-coded options for different cleaning areas.

Each new product launch was met with overwhelming enthusiasm.

With tens of millions flowing through QVC Bed Bath & Beyond, WalMart, Target, Kroger, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace Hardware, Giant, Walgreen’s, and Amazon. Weekly.

The product line now includes scouring pads, erasers, mops, dish wands, microfiber towels, and soap dispensers, reaching consumers worldwide.

Aaron’s vision and determination transformed Scrub Daddy from a forgotten idea into a global cleaning phenomenon.

The company’s partnership with global consumer goods giant Unilever and its expansion into international markets underscore its continued growth and success.

Today, Scrub Daddy is nipping at the heels of its competitors, securing its position as the third-largest sponge company in the US.

“Every day, we’re taking market share from 3M. I know they’re kicking themselves for taking Scrub Daddy out of the deal all those years ago,” Aaron laughs.

The company's relentless media, marketing, and business development efforts have propelled it toward $200 million in retail sales since its Shark Tank debut.

The Wall Street Journal spotlighted Scrub Daddy as a formidable contender in the half-billion-dollar sponge market.

In 2016, Aaron won Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Greater Philadelphia, and Scrub Daddy Inc. was honored as one of Philadelphia Business Journal’s Best Places to Work.

But just like the entrepreneur he is, Aaron never stopped innovating.

He knew complacency was always the enemy.

Beyond Scrub Daddy

Aaron’s innovative spirit didn’t stop with Scrub Daddy.

Keeping to his mantra of relentless innovation, he has partnered with Carbon Sports LLC, reinventing the company and product, and relaunching as Tovi Hockey, a revolutionary hockey stick that will forever change the game.

But Aaron’s innovation isn’t confined to the rink and kitchen.

His partnership with Nifty led to the development of a patented battery-charging belt that is both practical and fashionable.

Additionally, he’s launching four new companies, serving as a manufacturing consultant, and appearing regularly on QVC.

The history of Scrub Daddy is a remarkable journey of innovation, success, and household recognition.

From its humble beginnings on to its current status as a household staple, the brand journey is a testament to the power of ingenuity and the impact of a well-designed product.

As it continues to evolve and expand, the brand remains committed to making cleaning tasks easier and more enjoyable for millions around the globe.

The Scrub Daddy empire is not just about cleaning—it’s about redefining possibilities and making everyday life a little brighter.

As we look to the future, Aaron’s journey reminds us that great ideas can come from the most unexpected places.

Let it encourage you to embrace your creativity, tackle challenges head-on, and never give up on your dreams.

Because in the world of Scrub Daddy, ingenuity turns ordinary people into trailblazers.

Underdogs into champions.

Until next time keep dreaming like a Giant.

But fight and believe in your dreams like a damn underdog!

Yours truly,

-Nigel Thomas

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