Editor’s update: The “Coolest Cooler ended up raising a total of $13,285,226 from 62,642 backers.
File under: “Zeitgeist: Tapping”, a Kickstarter campaign with a twist is making crowdfunding history. It’s a pimped-out cooler called the Coolest, with a blender and a USB charger and onboard speakers. If you’re camping this summer, the Coolest has instantly become your must-have gadget. (You’re salivating now, but you’ll have to wait for your Coolest to ship in time for next year’s BBQ season.)
With a modest goal of $50,000, the Coolest Cooler pushed through the $1.7 million mark on Day 2, and is about to smash through the $2 million mark on its third day listed on Kickstarter.
One of the downfalls of tech ideas is “trying to be all things to all people” as opposed to “doing one thing well”. The Coolest falls into an in-between spot in the Venn diagram between those two impulses. This is the “Pimp My Ride” version of a cooler. It’s the “hot tub in the back seat because why not?” version of a cooler.
Yes, it’s a cooler, and it will keep your food and drinks cool, just like coolers have since your childhood camping trips with your parents. But the mission of the Coolest isn’t merely to keep your steaks and beer cold. It’s a “portable party designed as a cooler”. It’s got waterproof Bluetooth speakers built in to the side, it’s got bungee cables for keeping everything attached while you drag the Coolest across a field, it’s got extra-wide tires to help you get there, it’s got an LED light inside so you can see what drink you’re picking out at night, and a bottle opener on the side.
Kickstarter success stories aren’t about keeping people’s expectations low. They’re about saying, “But wait, there’s more!” over and over and over again.
The most obvious over-the-top feature is the blender. On the one hand, it seems absurd to pack a blender into the feature set of your summertime cooler. On the other, it’s the stroke of brilliance that pushes people to click “buy”. Who doesn’t want a fresh margarita on their camping trip? Need to cut limes for that? There’s a cutting board on top and a little space for stowing a knife. You supply the ice and limes.
The 18 volt battery powers the blender, and also the USB charger for charging up your technology while you’re sitting around the lake or campfire.
If you’re kicking yourself for missing out on the “early bird” pricing of $165, the penalty is that the full-price model will set you back an entire extra $20, at $185. Of course, you can always buy the T-shirt, not to mention the branded red solo cup. (For $2,000 Gepper will fly to your location and put on a BBQ for you, at which he’ll tend bar.)
Interestingly, the Coolest is actually a re-launch of a failed Kickstarter campaign. Created by product developer Ryan Gepper, of Portland, Oregon, the original campaign launched in November 2013. Attempting to raise $125,000, it surged during the campaign’s first half and then stalled after surpassing the $100,000 mark. Gepper did everything right the first time around in terms of outreach. The Cooler’s moment had simply not yet arrived. But it sure has now.
It’s possible that because the first Coolest campaign launched during November, with delivery of product sensibly set for summertime, nobody was particularly in the mood to click “buy” on an over-the-top summer party camping device. Now, however, at summer’s height, people want their Coolest and they want it now. As with all Kickstarter campaigns, however, they’re going to have to wait for next year to flaunt their Coolest at the lake, since Gepper now has to take his Kickstarter earnings and then develop and build and ship the end product.
The Coolest has 49 days left on its campaign and may blow through the $2 million mark as I write this. At this point, it’s shaping up to be not just a successfully funded Kickstarter project, but one of the key success stories in Kickstarter lore.
The website Kicktraq, which keeps track of trending projects on Kickstarter, predicts that the Coolest may just push through the $26 million mark by the end of its campaign. For context, the most successful Kickstarter project so far, the Pebble e-watch, cracked the $10 million barrier.
The bad news? Shipping to the US only.