By Mike Rogoway
The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Coolest Cooler is the second-most popular project in Kickstarter history, raising more than $13 million from 60,000 backers. But the company quickly became overwhelmed by the demand and found the money it raised didn’t cover the cost of manufacturing the coolers.
The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.
Supporters of Kickstarter project Coolest Cooler in 2014 paid $200 to support the project in expectation of a tricked-out cooler with a built-in blender, waterproof wireless speaker and other features.
Now, after nearly four years, the Portland company apparently still owes somewhere around 20,000 coolers to its crowdfunding backers.
It appears to have delivered little more than 1,000 coolers to its backers in the past 12 months.
Still, Coolest Cooler said it’s committed to closing the gap.
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“We’re still making and shipping coolers, and we’re still focused 100 percent on getting every last remaining backer the cooler they deserve,” campaign founder Ryan Grepper told backers in a YouTube video posted last week.
In the video Grepper said he hoped to finance the projection of more coolers by selling accessories, such as replacement batteries, chargers and other products yet to be identified.
Coolest Cooler is the second-most popular project in Kickstarter history, raising more than $13 million from 60,000 backers after being featured on national TV shows and popular websites. But the company quickly became overwhelmed by the demand and found the money it raised didn’t cover the cost of manufacturing the coolers.
Kickstarter, conceived as a way for artisans and independent craftspeople to fund imaginative projects through crowdfunding campaigns, proved ill-suited for mass-produced consumer products from inexperienced entrepreneurs like Grepper.
Coolest delivered just 39,000 of the 60,000 coolers it promised by June 2017, when the company reached a settlement with the Oregon Department of Justice.
Coolest agreed to provide 873 coolers to its Oregon backers, and others who had complained to the state, by the middle of April 2018. The department said this week that Coolest has met that commitment.
It appears few backers not covered by the settlement received their coolers.
In his new video, Grepper said “40,000 backers” have received their coolers altogether — about 1,000 more than had them at the time of the June 2017 settlement. He didn’t respond to a message this week seeking additional detail.
Even so, Grepper continues to hold out hope of closing his 20,000-cooler gap.
“We’ve historically been using the sales of new coolers to make and ship more coolers to the remaining backers. But after last year’s sales we realized that it would still take a long damn time unless we made some significant changes,” he said on the video.
Coolest Cooler needs new sources of revenue, he said, so it looked at expanding the company’s product line.
“Last year we decided to double down on innovation,” Grepper said. He said the company will sell batteries and chargers for its coolers, and other products down the road, in hopes of raising enough money to cover the cost of manufacturing the coolers it still owes.
Coolest’s settlement with Oregon gives the company until June 6, 2020, to deliver those remaining coolers. If it fails, the settlement requires Grepper and his company to pay $20 to each backer who didn’t get a cooler.
“This financial obligation shall not be subject to discharge in bankruptcy,” according to the settlement.
Coolest Cooler still carries a “Project we love” label on Kickstarter’s website.