In a nutshell: The Coolest Cooler, a Kickstarter starlet that generated over $13 million in pledges from more than 62,000 backers way back in 2014, has seemingly reached the end of its rope and predictably, a large number of early backers are getting shafted.
If you haven’t followed the journey over the last five+ years, here’s a quick refresher. The Coolest Cooler was created by Ryan Grepper as a jack-of-all-trades cooler. The 60-quarter container doubles as an ice-crushing blender for mixed drinks and has a waterproof Bluetooth speaker and USB charger built right in.
It doesn’t end there, however, as the cooler also features an LED-lit lid, a cooler divider that doubles as a cutting board, easy rolling wheels, built-in storage for plates and utensils and even a bottle opener. Unsurprisingly, it was a hit on Kickstarter and still stands as the second most funded project ever behind the Pebble Time smartwatch.
Actually delivering the cooler to early backers, however, was a different story. According to Engadget, roughly 20,000 (about a third) of the original backers never received their reward… yeah, even more than five years later.
If you are one of those early backers still waiting for your Coolest Cooler, well, I’ve got bad news. It’s not coming. Ever. Instead, you may be eligible for a $20 payout through a settlement with the Oregon Department of Justice from 2017. It’s a drop in the bucket compared to the nearly $200 that most backers shelled out and honestly, it may not even be worth the hassle, but it looks like that is all that will be coming your way.
The company in a recent e-mail to early backers blamed the Trump administration’s tariffs on products imported from China as the reason for it having to shut down shop. But in reality, that was only one part of the equation and one that doesn’t account for the many roadblocks and failures the company experienced along the way.
“We kept going when it became immediately obvious that the Coolest would cost much more to manufacture and ship than anyone paid for it on Kickstarter.”
This alone should have been handled much differently but alas, it’s all water under the bridge now. With any luck, future creators and potential backers alike can learn a lesson or two from the Coolest Cooler.