An Interview With Aaron Krause, The Inventor of the Ion Belt and the Scrub Daddy From ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’

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The Ion Belt

The Philadelphia native’s Ion Belt has a constructed-in USB port, permitting the wearable tech garment to power every little thing from the consumer’s cell phone to pill and camera, all whereas on the go.
(Photograph : The Ion Belt)

Aaron Krause goes to be onerous-pressed to ever duplicate the type of success he has loved with the smiley-confronted Scrub Daddy sponge, however that will not cease him from making an attempt.

After the merchandise turned a family identify by scoring a $ 200,000 funding on ABC’s Shark Tank in 2012 — racking up over $ 75 million in retail gross sales and turning into the largest success story on the present to date — Krause is lookign forward with a new invention.

This time, he is out of the kitchen and on the go together with The Ion Belt, a wearable tech smart belt, which vows to maintain your smartphone — or any digital device utilizing a USB connection — charged always.

(Photograph : The Ion Belt)

The finish of the belt has a USB port for units — smartphone, pill, camera, and so forth. — whereas half of the buckle has a constructed-in recharging USB pin connector that may be charged in a wall socket or with a pc. The wearable has embedded batteries and battery indicator lights as properly.

(Photograph : Aaron Krause)

Though Krause labored with Lori Greiner from Shark Tank on the Scrub Daddy, he has but to make his best pitch to the Sharks for his new product so far. That is partly as a result of he is hoping the public demand for it’s nice. To gauge that, Krause has launched a marketing campaign on Kickstarter, having raised $ 45,411 towards his objective of $ 50,000 with 9 days left as of Wednesday. An early-fowl pledge of $ 89 will land you the belt.

In contrast to the Scrub Daddy sponge, which turned successful for its capability to vary texture based mostly on water temperature, the undeniable fact that it is odorless, does not scratch surfaces, and rinses utterly clear with every use, The Ion Belt is a harder promote as a result of of attainable misconceptions.

“The majority of the drawback is the misunderstanding that this isn’t protected or that it isn’t going to allow you to by means of airport safety or it should radiate your physique. None of these are true,” Krause tells Tech Occasions. “It is presupposed to seem like an on a regular basis belt that you do not know or care is on your physique. You put on it since you take pleasure in the look of it and oh, by the method … you’ve gotten two days of iPhone cost on your physique.”

The fixed promotion and conferences for the Scrub Daddy have Krause touring at a breakneck tempo, and primarily “dwelling off” his cell phone, utilizing it for every part from commonplace calls, texts and emails to GPS navigation and Web analysis. That being stated, his smartphone battery died on a number of events, inspiring him to create The Ion Belt with a 3,000 mAh battery so that may by no means occur once more.

By means of his protoypes, nevertheless, Krause confronted the recurring drawback of the wires inside the smart belt breaking via common use. Linking up with enterprise companion Piers Ridyard modified that, although, as he got here ready with the trademarked Encapsulpak know-how, offering two layers of metal sheeting between the batteries to guard them from injury inside the belt, whereas nonetheless sustaining the garment’s glossy look.

The two have created the firm SoftTech Holdings LLC, which hopes to efficiently ship The Ion Belt to the plenty, earlier than rolling out all types of wearable tech units in the close to future.

Right here, Krause tells Tech Occasions extra about The Ion Belt and infusing know-how right into a buffing pad enterprise that was acquired by 3M and stays an auto business commonplace immediately. He additionally explains how the Scrub Daddy was initially geared towards cleansing automotive mechanics’ arms, earlier than inadvertently discovering its method into kitchens throughout America. Necessity is the mom of invention … and like the Scrub Daddy, Krause hopes The Ion Belt fulfills the want to remain charged.

Tech Occasions: How lengthy has The Ion Belt been in the works?

Aaron Krause: I have been working on it for near 4 years. It began out of necessity. As an inventor, I am all the time on the go, all the time creating new merchandise and new concepts. Scrub Daddy truly is not my first. It is truly my 14th patent. My final firm was truly acquired by the big 3M Firm.

3M purchased my enterprise in 2008 and I had been touring a lot and I began dwelling off my cell phone. It wasn’t simply my phone — it was my GPS, my e-mail, Web, analysis. It was my all the things and I drained the battery down so shortly. At some point on a flight, I wanted to make some calls, write some emails and once I acquired there, I had 2 % left and I received on that aircraft and watched my battery die. That is the final time I let that occur.

I assumed, ‘how can I retailer extra power on my physique, in order that I do not know it is there?’ The option was to hold this massive, cumbersome charger round, however I already carry a phone, pockets, keys … and I did not need to carry one thing else. I began taking a look at my physique and considering I might put it in my footwear, however then I must run a wire up my leg and did not need to do this.

(Photograph : Aaron Krause)

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As I used to be taking a look at my belt, I began considering if it was potential to include battery know-how into your belt. As quickly as I landed, I referred to as my engineer and we started a 3-and-a-half-yr course of of actually creating protoype after prototype, however all the time arising with the similar drawback. The wires inside that make the connection between the batteries and USB-charging finish and the discharge finish — once you bend them over the similar level over and over once more, over 30 days, you break the wires. I could not work out the way to overcome this drawback.

How did you treatment the challenge?

Someday, whereas I used to be looking for somebody to assist me with it, I found a man in England who was making a belt and replicating my concept. He appeared to have achieved it in six months, the place it had taken me three years. I assumed, ‘this man may need the reply.’ As an alternative of going to battle with this man, I questioned if he’d have an interest.

I’ve a patent-pending in the U.S., so I’ll block him from coming in the U.S., however perhaps he’d be eager about promoting my product in England. I satisfied him to satisfy me at the Shopper Electronics Present in Vegas and the two of us hit it off like best pals.

We have been imagined to have a half-hour assembly and 4 hours later, we have been speaking about how you can merge the corporations and that is what we did. It is one firm referred to as SoftTech. We’ve got plans for it to not grow to be a belt firm, however to be a whole wearable know-how firm with all types of wearable merchandise.

Once we signed the papers [to create SoftTech], he confirmed me [his solution instead of wires] and my jaw hit the flooring.

Is that this the place the Encapsulpak know-how got here from?

Sure. We stated that this needs to be protected, however one of the resistances that we discovered is individuals considering it is not protected. We have achieved every part to make sure that the product is protected. The batteries are encapsulated in metal, to allow them to’t bend, be punctured or break.

(Photograph : Aaron Krause)

We now have circuitry on each one of the batteries that shut it down if there is a brief. The subsequent drawback is individuals assume there’s radiation, however there isn’t any radiation as a result of this is not transmitting or receiving any sign. It sends electrons by means of a wire saved in a battery.

Earlier than The Ion Belt and Scrub Daddy, you had a automotive firm referred to as Dedication to Element.

I began out washing automobiles once I was a toddler. That is how I made cash. I all the time had my very own enterprise. I by no means labored for anybody my entire life. I began a automotive-washing enterprise, which become a detailing enterprise, and once I graduated school — a lot to the dismay of my very skilled mother and father, who have been each physicians — I began a automotive-washing and detailing firm out of school.

I had this cool idea that I used to be going to franchise and flip this into the Domino’s Pizza of detailing. We have been going to have free pickup and supply and we acquired your automotive accomplished in three hours or much less. I began that enterprise and it grew quickly. At some point, I needed to hearth a bunch of my staff as a result of I caught them consuming on the job. After I fired 5 guys, I ended up realizing that I used to be going to should do all the automobiles.

So, I used to be again on the line buffing automobiles and I broken a automotive. I used to be positive that it wasn’t as a result of of my expertise. It was as a result of of the product. So, I set out on a mission to create this new type of buffing pad and I used to be profitable.

I created this new product, received a patent on it and inside three months, it was promoting throughout the nation. Inside about six months, it was promoting throughout the world. It was referred to as the Edge buffing pad. I bought my detailing firm and began making buffing pads.

Was that your first patent?

Sure, that was the first patent I had ever acquired. It was for the general form and design of a buffing pad that had edges, permitting it to get into corners and crevices of the automotive. From 1994 till 2008, I made buffing pads and we grew that enterprise right into a multimillion-greenback worldwide manufacturing firm.

We have been truly competing with and taking enterprise from the No. 1 firm in the world for buffing pads, which was 3M, and ultimately they got here knocking and stated, ‘yeah, we will not have this.’ By that point, I had in all probability six patents and some actually cool know-how in buffing pads and they could not cope with that as a result of the know-how I had … if I had stored going, would have taken most of the market share.

What was some of that know-how in the buffing pads?

We created a fast-join/disconnect, double-sided, reversible, automated-centering buffing pad and when you’ve ever seen an air hose with a fast disconnect — all the buffing pads on the market was Velcro-attaching, so that you had to purchase this plastic plate that the Velcro hooks onto.

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What I invented was a new adapter that screwed onto your buffing machine and outlasted the plastic plate by 100 occasions, was cheaper than the plastic plate and centered the buffing pad by simply clicking on and you had two sides. It is the business normal in buffing pads to this present day — the 3M Fast Join. I invented that, however I not personal any of that know-how or gear. 3M purchased that complete firm in 2008.

I perceive that the Scrub Daddy truly happened inadvertently via your know-how of buffing pads and you promoting your buffing firm to 3M. How did that precisely come about?

As an unimaginable stroke of luck and irony, once we have been negotiating with 3M, we couldn’t agree on a price. The approach we acquired to the gross sales price was 3M made me justify my analysis by going line-by-line via each product, merchandise and asset. At the finish of the day, they stated, ‘OK, now we all know why you assume this enterprise is value a lot, however we do not need this brush that you’ve a patent on … we do not need this apron, we do not need this washmit, we do not need your buffer stick, we do not need this sponge that you simply name Scrub Daddy that scrubs mechanics’ arms clear that you haven’t any gross sales of. We do not need these merchandise. You retain these. We would like the buffing pad enterprise and that is what we’ll pay you for it.’

So, I used to be like, ‘OK, now it appears like we’ve a deal.’ They took the buffing pad enterprise and they left me with what we name equipment. So, I began a new firm referred to as Revolutionary Accent Merchandise and we began making an attempt to promote these things. The 3M buyout was extraordinarily profitable … sufficient that sure individuals would say ‘I am retired and not working anymore,’ however that is not in my nature and I am going to by no means be that. For me it was like, ‘what’s subsequent?’ To be trustworthy, the Scrub Daddy was invented in 2006 for mechanics and physique outlets to wash their soiled palms. It was not a kitchen scrubbing software.

So, when 3M bought your buffing pad firm, however left you with equipment, together with the Scrub Daddy, that turned out to be an enormous mistake on their half. However how did it get to be a family kitchen merchandise when it was initially aimed for gritty mechanics?

After they purchased the enterprise, we had little or no gross sales in Scrub Daddy, so we truly put them in a field and in the again of the manufacturing unit. They sat there from 2008 till 2011 and serendipitously, my spouse was complaining [for me] to return residence and scrub the garden furnishings to place it out for the spring. I assumed I might use these previous scrubbers and I am going to throw them away lastly.

I took them house and found it was the biggest factor I ever scrubbed with. I went to the kitchen and began experimenting with them. After every week of doing the dishes with them, I noticed I am lacking the boat. You set your fingers in the eyeholes and go right into a cup and you come out and understand that if it had a smiley face, it might truly clear silverware.

(Photograph : Aaron Krause)

We put a smiley face in and oh, my God, it was over. It was one of these life-altering issues. I actually felt like the skies opened once I got here up with this concept. I got here in the subsequent day and informed all my staff that we missed the boat and that is the biggest kitchen scrubbing software ever. I knew we had one thing actually massive. It took off. We had a newspaper article written about us, I obtained onto QVC and that led me to Shark Tank and the flood gates opened. We’re the most profitable merchandise ever in Shark Tank historical past. We’re over $ 75 million in retail gross sales [to date].

With all of your success with Scrub Daddy and plans for The Ion Belt, would you ever think about a full circle and return to inventing for the automotive area?

My mentor in life is definitely Elon Musk. I’ve the unique Tesla Roadster from 2010. I do not shut any doorways in phrases of innovation. Day-after-day that I am concerned in some exercise or some day by day course of that bothers me, I’ll provide you with an answer for it.

Since I drive all the time, I am all the time desirous about innovations for automobiles, so there isn’t any doubt that in the future I’ll get again to one thing that has to do with automotive, however I do not know when. Most of my concepts come to me in the bathe, to be trustworthy.

However these days I have been working on ice-hockey know-how, wearable know-how that has an application to ice hockey. They are saying invention is the mom of necessity. If I want one thing, I create an answer.  

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Source : Techtimes