Cooler raises $10.5 million — a Kickstarter record
NEW YORK, N.Y. — It’s official: The Coolest Cooler is living up to its name.
With nearly 50,000 Kickstarter backers pledging over $10.5 million, the “portable party” cooler is now the highest grossing Kickstarter campaign ever. Late Tuesday night, the Coolest Cooler topped the previous record of $10.2 million, held by the Pebble smartwatch.
Created by Ryan Grepper of Portland, Ore., the Coolest includes features like a blender, waterproof bluetooth speaker, USB charger, cutting board and bottle opener.
“I’m so overjoyed,” said Grepper. “I was overjoyed at day two — I’m so grateful for everyone coming on board.”
This isn’t Coolest’s first time on the Kickstarter block. Grepper unsuccessfully tried to raise $125,000 for similar model In November 2013 (he only earned $100,000),
“My confidence was pretty low because of the first campaign,” said Grepper.
But a combination of seasonality (launching the campaign in July vs. November), more supporters and an improved design helped him get far more than his $50,000 goal this time around.
Setting the bar so low — and meeting it within 36 hours of launching — has helped him get ahead on production.
He’s currently in the process of locking in a final design and securing a factory to produce the coolers.
But how exactly did a cooler get so, well, hot?
“There’s a point where products derive much more attention than any rational expectation would suggest,” said Jason Greenberg, PhD and assistant professor at New York University’s business school. “In a market where potato salad can raise $55,000, it’s not that surprising.”
In fact, that’s part of the beauty of crowdfunding, according to Kickstarter spokesman Justin Kazmark.
“Backers enjoy the chance to bring the most imaginative ideas to life and shape the world into what they want it to be,” said Kazmark. “Coolest has tapped into that sense of inspiration.”
So, are the millions raised any indication of how it’ll fare post-crowdfunding?
They could be.
“We’ve seen more and more angels and investors using [Kickstarter] as a minor league in terms of [gauging] customer demands,” said Greenberg.
Grepper said he’s already been contacted by “many” retailers who are interested in working with him to sell the product.
According to PrivCo, a financial data provider on privately-held companies, U.S. cooler sales totaled $635 million in 2013.
Igloo Products Corp “dominates” the market, according to Matt Turlip, senior analyst at PrivCo. The company, which was acquired by VC firm J.H. Whitney & Co. earlier this year, owns 53% of the full-size cooler market.
“Maybe in a year or two the Coolest can hope to compete,” said Turlip.
Those who pledged enough for the cooler ($165 or more) will have to wait until February 2015 to get the product (which will come in Margarita, Blue Moon and Coolest Orange).
But they will have saved a cool $130 — it’ll retail for $299.