Coolest Cooler Announces End of Operations

Touted as a Kickstarter success story; did not follow through on expectations

Coolest Cooler
The dream of Coolest Cooler is no longer alive in Portland.
Coolest Cooler/Kickstarter

When the Coolest Cooler was announced on Kickstarter in 2014, it looked like the ideal project for people fond of the outdoors: a cooler with speakers, a USB port and other accessories. The response was overwhelming: the Oregon-based company raised $13 million for its product, which received a host of media attention.

Unfortunately, that attention didn’t translate into functionality, and it’s unlikely to ever do so now. The Oregonian reports that Coolest Cooler has announced that it is closing down — and around 20,000 Kickstarter backers will not receive the project that they contributed to.

The risks associated with Kickstarter projects are well-documented at this point; even so, the case of Coolest Cooler stings particularly deeply for many of those who funded it. They are eligible to a partial refund, based on a 2017 settlement with the Oregon Department of Justice — but it looks as though those 20,000 people who won’t get their coolers can only apply for a $20 refund

Ryan Grepper, founder of Coolest Cooler, blamed the US/China trade war for the frustrating end to this years-long saga. In an email sent to the project’s backers, Grepper referred to it as “an insurmountable challenge for Coolest.”

As Mike Rogoway writes for The Oregonian, Grepper’s company was created in order to put the Coolest Cooler into production — and thus needed to create a manufacturing process and supply chain out of thin air. While that’s not without precedent, it was one more challenge facing the nascent company — and one which ultimately proved to be its undoing. 

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