Scrub Daddy Inventor Aaron Krause ’92 Smiles on Whitman’s Entrepreneurship Competition

Aaron Krause ’92


  • Alumni

Seeing so many eager and bright-minded students pitch their ideas really resonated with me, and Scrub Daddy is proud to be a part of supporting their success.

Aaron Krause ’92 (A&S) knows a good idea when he sees one. After all, he’s been an inventor and entrepreneur all his life, best known for creating the Scrub Daddy, a top-selling, smiley-faced yellow foam scrubber found next to kitchen sinks across America. When Krause served as a judge in last fall’s Orange Tank business pitch competition at the Whitman School, it didn’t take long for him to see which competitor would make the most of his inaugural Scrub Daddy Jumpstart Innovation Award. Natasha Brao ’22 (VPA), ’23 M.S., ’24 MBA walked away with the $10,000 prize for Shooka, a spicy tomato sauce based on the North African and Middle Eastern dish shakshuka. Brao’s pitch convinced Krause that she had the drive and talent, as well as a distinctive product that “had the potential to get to market quickly.”

Aaron Krause and Natasha Brao

The Scrub Daddy Cleans Up

Krause’s eye for entrepreneurship started long before he enrolled at Syracuse University. He began washing cars in his teens, something he continued throughout college. Krause wasn’t accepted into the business school, so he decided to pursue psychology at the College of Arts and Sciences. Still, the ideas kept coming, and, after graduation, he expanded his car washing business. Within six months he found a lucrative path making buffing pads for car washes, securing two patents and eventually creating a million-dollar business. During this time, he was trying to find a better way to clean the grease and grime of machinery off his hands. Krause created and patented a polymer foam in the shape of a grooved circle the size of his own hand with two holes in the center for a better grip. The product worked well, but there wasn’t much interest in the marketplace. So, he put the foam in a box and moved on.


His buffing pad business boomed, so much so that Krause was approached by his main competitor, manufacturing giant 3M, with an offer to buy him out to eliminate its competition. When the deal was sealed, 3M took everything except the box of yellow foam thought to be useless. Krause went to work for 3M for the next five years, storing the box in his garage.


Aaron Krause, wife and two kids visit the Syracuse University campus
Aaron Krause and his family visiting the Syracuse Campus.

In 2011, Krause’s wife, Stephanie, asked him to clean the lawn furniture. He tackled the job with a traditional two-sided kitchen sponge, which scratched the paint. Only then did he remember the box of foam in his garage and decided to give that a try.


“It worked shockingly well,” says Krause, who noticed that the material remained rigid in cold water but became flexible in warm water, getting into nooks and crannies. And the foam rinsed completely clean and undamaged with little effort. Next, Krause tried it on dishes, pots and pans with an equally successful result and knew he was on to something. Soon after, he added a smiling mouth to the design to better clean flatware, and the Scrub Daddy was born.


Krause began selling the product himself, but Scrub Daddy really took off in 2012 when he appeared on television’s Shark Tank and made a deal with Lori Greiner, a “shark” with connections to shopping network QVC and major retailers. That partnership sent sales skyrocketing, and soon Scrub Daddy was on the shelves at places like Target, Walmart and Home Depot, as well as QVC. Today, the Scrub Daddy line has expanded to include products like Scrub Mommy, Scrub Daisy dish wand, sponge Caddies and even a BBQ Daddy grill cleaner.


Campus Connection Supports Budding Entrepreneurs


Five years ago, Maria Guarrera, director of development, mid-Atlantic region, for Syracuse University, asked Krause to speak to students about his entrepreneurial success. He agreed to come to the Whitman School, where he was impressed with the building and its entrepreneurship program, which had not existed when he was a student.


He and his wife, who is director of public relations and special initiatives for Scrub Daddy, soon decided to support Whitman’s efforts to help budding entrepreneurs further their business ideas. In 2023, the Krauses gifted a $50,000 grant under the Scrub Daddy name, $10,000 of which was allocated to the Scrub Daddy Jumpstart Innovation Award. Last fall, Krause was invited not only to present his award but also to participate as a judge for the overall Orange Tank competition.


“Seeing so many eager and bright-minded students pitch their ideas really resonated with me, and Scrub Daddy is proud to be a part of supporting their success,” says Krause, who is likely to visit campus even more often now that daughter Sophie will be attending the University’s School of Education next year. “Certainly, the spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well at the Whitman School."


By Caroline K. Reff

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  • Alumni