Scrub Daddy Founder’s New Invention: A Belt That Charges Your Phone

Aaron Krause makes a move into wearables.

The Ion Belt. (Photo courtesy of Ion Tech Wear.)

The Ion Belt. (Photo courtesy of Ion Tech Wear.)

The Daddy of the Scrub Daddy is at it again. Three years after inventing the most successful product to ever to emerge from TV’s Shark Tank, Aaron Krause has launched a belt that charges smartphones and other devices. It’s called The Ion Belt. Here’s how it works:

The tail of the belt is a USB port, allowing users to plug in their normal charging cables then connect the other end into their device. The middle of the belt contains flexible batteries encased in steel, and the prong of the belt is a USB so it can be charged. It holds enough power for one-and-a-half to two days of an iPhone charge, Krause said.

The company, called Ion Tech Wear, is based in Folcroft, Pa., the home of Scrub Daddy’s corporate headquarters. (If you don’t know, Scrub Daddy is a coarse household sponge that gets hard in cold water and soft in warm water — and won’t scratch anything.)

But for the tech belt project, Krause has taken on a partner: Piers Ridyard. Krause had been working on a wearable charging belt for more than three years but couldn’t get the product quite right. Although he had a pending patent, he thought the plan was dead. Then he noticed that a British guy who was developing the same thing.

“I started preparing for war,” said Krause. “I have a patent but he’s going to tell the world about his belt and I’ll be forced to play second fiddle. But the more I thought about it, the more I said I need to join forces with someone like this.”

So they finally met up and what was supposed to be a half hour meeting turned into a three-hour bromance. But there were still some issues to consider: Ridyard was marketing his belt as a high-end, fashionable product that costs around $500. Krause wanted a power belt everyone could use. (Krause won that battle. It costs $79 on the company’s Kickstarter page.) Then there was the issue of building of the actual product. Krause got stuck because the wires in his belt were always breaking. Ridyard’s design didn’t need wires.

“The day we merged the companies together, he showed me how it’s made and my head exploded. I realized I’m working with the British Steve Jobs,” said Krause.

Wait, should I really have that much electrical power around my waist? Krause and Ridyard say it’s totally safe.

“We have proprietary technology that seals the batteries in steel encasements, preventing them from ever being punctured or shorting,” said Krause. People worry about radiation risk from cell phones because they transmit and receive data through the air, but the belt doesn’t have that type of functionality, he said. “It has the same amount of energy as a child’s toy. You’re laptop has three times the amount of batteries and you work for hours on it.”

So why launch on Kickstarter? Krause certainly has enough Scrub Daddy money to bankroll the launch. “I have no idea if the public is going to demand or even want this product,” he said. “I would have to invest such a huge fortune to get it going. I may pick the wrong colors, styles or stitching. With Kickstarter, we get to validate the concept and get market data.”

Ridyard adds that the company will also get feedback from “people highly engaged in getting new gadgets.”

“We need a community of people motivated by our product and interested in being first,” said Ridyard. “They’ll be on the ground floor and form a new paradigm in technology. Once this platform is proven, we’re going to grow in a wearable tech company.”

When asked if they’re concerned about a paradigm shift — like the iPhone 7 having four days worth of battery life for instance— Krause balked.

“Every time Apple releases a new, upgraded device, it’s a power hungry device,” he said. “My phone is my GPS, phone, email, Internet — and I’m drawing more and more power from it. I think they’re going to come out with another device with more storage but it will consume power at a faster rate.”