Scrub Daddy CEO credits college for his clean start

Key Points
  • The founder of Scrub Daddy dishes on his days as an undergraduate at Syracuse University.
  • He spent his time outside of class washing cars with friends to make extra money.
  • That ultimately led him to develop a patented sponge that would make him famous.
Here is why this CEO chose to go to Syracuse University

It makes sense that the man who found big success in a small sponge got his start washing cars in college.

Scrub Daddy founder Aaron Krause credits the eventual founding of his business to time spent as an undergraduate at Syracuse University, a school he nearly stumbled into.

"My father came into my room in 11th grade with a protractor and a map, and he put it on Philadelphia, drew a circle and ... said, 'Anywhere in here, I pay for, and anywhere outside, you pay for'" — and Syracuse was on the very edge of that limit," Krause said.

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"It turned out to be really good," he added. "Instead of laying out on the beach in Miami, I bundled up and went to class every day." But, Krause also made better use of his time outside of class.

This future inventor by trade spent his free periods washing cars with friends to make extra money and soon began tinkering with better foam buffing pads, which he would later market to the auto industry.

Although Krause went to the private college with the intention of studying business and is now a successful entrepreneur, he recalls having loaded up on so many psychology classes that at one point he realized he would not be able to graduate in just four years with a business degree, as originally planned.

Scrub Daddy founder Aaron Krause.
Source: Aaron Krause

"I had to go to the same father and say, 'Dad, if I want to graduate with a degree in business, it looks like I'm going to need five years,' and he said, 'That's fine, I pay for four; you pay for the last one.'"

Instead, Krause chose to finish school with a degree in psychology, which he said has served him well. "It turns out there is a lot of psychology in business."

Shortly after graduating from Syracuse, he went on to create the household sponge that would make him famous following an appearance on "Shark Tank." It was one of the show's most successful products ever and is largely sold on QVC and at Bed Bath & Beyond and Wal-Mart.

Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to "Shark Tank."