How Scrub Daddy Became the Most Successful ‘Shark Tank’ Company

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Aug. 3 2021, Published 2:49 p.m. ET

When you’re talking about the most successful Shark Tank company, you have to talk about “the daddy of all deals,” as 20/20 called it. That would be Scrub Daddy, which is the high-tech sponge that inventor Aaron Krause brought to the ABC reality show in Season 4.

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“In just four years, we have hit $110 million in retail sales,” investor Lori Greiner said on 20/20, in a 2017 segment about the show’s biggest deals.

Krause said in the segment that he wakes up every morning “with a new vengeance to make sure that no one takes our title as the most successful item in the history of the show.”

Two of the "Shark Tank" sharks wanted a bite of Scrub Daddy.

Krause, the “daddy of the Scrub Daddy,” appeared on Shark Tank in October 2012 and wanted $100,000 for 10 percent equity in “the cutest but most high-tech scrubbing tool in the world.” Krause had $100,000 in sales in four months, but he wanted to up his production capacity and needed help getting into the retail market.

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Krause wasn’t kidding about Scrub Daddy being high-tech. As he showed during the pitch, the Scrub Daddy turns from a soft sponge to a firm scrubber when dunked in cold water. Scrub Daddy even maintains its shape under a 10-pound weight. The ridged edge means that it can clean the bottom and sides of a glass at the same time. The smiling face isn’t just cute. The cut-out cleans both sides of spoons, forks, knives, and spatulas simultaneously.

Greiner and Kevin O’Leary got into a bidding war over the product. O’Leary eventually offering $100,000 for a 25-cent royalty on each sale until he made back his investment and then a 7.5-cent royalty in perpetuity. Greiner offered $200,000 for 20 percent of the company. “I can tell instantly if it’s a hero or a zero, and I think what you’ve got here is a hero,” she said. “QVC, infomercial, and into every single retailer worldwide. That’s the power of what we can do.”

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Krause developed Scrub Daddy after selling a previous company to 3M.

As SmartCompany revealed in a 2019 profile, Krause’s career started with a carwash business, which then evolved into a company selling car-buffing pads. The multinational conglomerate corporation 3M purchased that company in 2008 in what Krause called a “life-altering deal.”

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Along the way, Krause got to know “every company in the world who produced foam,” including a German company that sent him a type of foam it tried to use as a filter. Krause turned that foam into a product he used to clean his hands after working with his warehouse machinery.

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In 2011, Krause had a revelation while using samples of that hand-cleaning product to clean outdoor furniture. “They worked so unbelievably well, I took one inside to wash the dishes,” he told SmartCompany. “It was then I realized the stiffeners in the foam changed with the temperature of the water, becoming soft in warm water and hard and scrubby in cold water. It was mind-altering, and I knew there was a way to market this amazing material.”

SmartCompany also reported that Scrub Daddy is regarded as the most successful Shark Tank company in the history of the show. Greiner raved about Krause’s Shark Tank pitch in a 2018 Vanity Fair video. “His product is creative, just to begin with,” she said. “He came in with something that was completely different. Everything about the entrepreneur, the product, and the demo was creative.”

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