How the Founder of Scrub Daddy Perfected His Pitch

by Taylor Sisk, Staples® Contributing Writer

Aaron Krause has apparently always had the cleaning gene. His first enterprise was a car-washing business in his parents’ Pennsylvania driveway.

He’s now taken that instinct to the big stage: Shark Tank, where he successfully introduced his product — Scrub Daddy, a smiley-faced, scratch-free sponge that changes texture when wet to serve a range of functions — to the resident entrepreneurs. Scrub Daddy gathered $13.5 million in sales in less than a year, on its way to becoming the most successful of all the Shark Tank products.

Krause shared with us some of his secrets to success.

What was your initial sales venue for Scrub Daddy?

A local supermarket chain. I’d knocked on many doors, and couldn’t break into the retail market. So I used a family friend. He owned five supermarkets in the Cherry Hill, NJ, area, and I set up a little booth and started pitching to every passerby. And selling Scrub Daddys one at a time, I honed a skill: how to pitch this product. In about 10 to 30 seconds, I had to get a customer hooked.

I then sent an email to the Philadelphia Inquirer, and said, “Hey, you’re doing all these stories that are so negative about business, how about you do a positive one?” And they came down and did a story on me, and I got on the front page of the Inquirer in the Sunday business section. It’s free and gets you unbelievable media exposure. Somebody saw that and said, “I think your product could get on QVC.” So I ended up getting this opportunity to go on QVC, and that put me in front of millions of people, instead of just 10 or 20 people an hour.

That was where the sales really started to take off.

What advice can you offer about securing funding for a start-up?

My dad was my first financier, and he was no joke about it. My dad would charge me two points above what I would get at a bank, because he told me I was a credit risk. To this day, I respect him for it and it’s made me very conservative in the way that I borrow money from other people.

So I would say always start, if you can, with friends and family.

If you have a bigger project, you’re going to need to share parts of the company. But never give up more than 50 percent of your business, because then you work for someone else, and then you don’t make the final decisions.

How long was it before you made a profit?

It was roughly two years. What you’ll find is that when you make a profit, you want to reinvest in the business, and you keep this cycle of turning inventory and growing the business. Next thing you know, you’ll need more equipment. It takes somewhere around two to five years before you actually make a profit.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received along the way?

Understand what your limitations are and what you’re best at. A lot of CEOs will micromanage their business to the point that the business stops growing. I learned a long time ago that I know what I’m good at and I know what other people are better than me at. You have to let go and look at things from a high level. When I started doing that and bringing in the right people, surrounding myself with people who knew what I needed them to do, I was able to make higher-end decisions.

That’s how the business starts to just explode.

Really, the best piece of advice I can give an entrepreneur is to realize that there’s business time and there’s family time, and you can’t let the business occupy all your time and not have a life outside of your business. Because if the business is the only thing you’re thinking about, and it consumes you, you'll lose most of the meaning of what you’re working for.

What’s the coolest thing about owning your own business?

Well, I used to say the best part about being an entrepreneur was controlling your own destiny, making your own hours. But it turns out, now that I’m 20-plus years into it, that it’s quite the opposite: When you’re an entrepreneur, you’re always on call, you’re always involved in the business. It’s a 24/7 job and you have to make a commitment and you have to have the right partner. My wife is the most supportive and the most incredible partner.

So what makes it all worthwhile?

You feel that you’ve changed the world. You’ve changed your life and you have an incredible feeling of achievement all the time with what you're doing.

It’s in a lot of people’s nature that you want to be in charge of what you’re doing, and I think that’s really fulfilling.

Watch Shark Tank Fridays 9|8c on ABC.

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