Ryan Grepper, the mind behind the Coolest cooler, a Kickstarter campaign that ended in failure last year, describes how his product has made a wildly successful comeback.

What inspired your idea?

The Coolest started as a passion project. My biggest loves are spending times with family and friends and spending time outside. The original idea was based on a blender powered by a modified weed-wacker engine, and a car stereo in a speakerbox. Last summer, I realized technology has come a long way and I could really turn my idea into something.

Must-have features came down to two things: adding more fun by combining access to music with blender drinks, and creating something that removes the hassles that come with getting organized and getting outside. I wanted to make it easier for everyone to get outdoors and spend time with family.

What made you think people would buy it?

After the first campaign failed my confidence was pretty low, but we had passionate people who connected with the idea. I knew the first campaign wasn’t how I envisioned the Coolest to be. Encouragement from our original backers and my own belief in the product made me take another shot.

Did you consider forms of funding other than crowdfunding?

No. I am a huge fan of what crowdfunding does for inventors. It allows inventors to get market feedback from potential customers. If you hit your funding goal and have enough backers. the idea can move forward. If you don’t, it gives you the opportunity to reevaluate, make adjustments or realize that the idea may not be as amazing as you hoped it could be. There are the most exciting opportunities in crowdfunding.

Why was your Kickstarter campaign was unsuccessful the first time?

One of the big factors was that people are much more likely to connect with the idea for a cooler when it’s hot outside, rather than during one of the coldest months of the year. And, the second time I took  the design further, closer to execution. The easier you can communicate an idea that's closer to the final product, the easier it is for potential backers to understand what you are trying to do. It makes it easier for them to come on board

Did anything else help make the second time the charm?

Having backers from the intial campaign who were already excited about the project. We were communicating with them before the second launch and that helped it kick off with new momentum.

Still, the success of the second campaign has been incredible. What won you so much support so quickly?

That’s hard to guess. I am just so grateful that so many people have connected with the idea and the features of the Coolest. It struck a nerve with a large group of people. I’m really excited and hope everyone will have as much fun with theirs as I’ve had.

Can a crowdfunding campaign be too successful?

Good question. I think it puts such a public eye on a project that it may invite people to speculate. Certainly the Coolest has never been built before, but I really don’t see a specific downside. I’m looking at it as a tremendous resource pool to enable us to execute on design and fill our promises. At such a large scale, it opens up production and manufacturing options that wouldn’t be available otherwise. Perhaps there is a limit but I don’t think we are in the range.

Can you fulfill over $17 million worth of projected orders? We’ve all heard the horror stories

It really comes down to partnerships, sourcing, and making sure the team we are building understands that my laser focus is on making sure we stay committed to executing on my promise for quality and deliverability. If challenges arise we will communicate with backers along the way, but always with the goal of delivering the Coolest with the highest possible quality and delivering on promises.

Why did you decide to add in the option of having you bartend a party as an incentive for backers?

I thought that bartending a party would be a great opportunity for friends and family to bring the Coolest out and have me hang out with them.   I am looking forward to meeting backers face to face, creating an awesome experience and thanking them in person with a delicious tasty beverage. When I saw how  popular that pledge option was, we marked it as sold out. But I will be reaching out to each backer individually to see what we can do to schedule their party time while still staying focused on bigger picture.

What advice do you have for others looking to gain success on Kickstarter?

Any Kickstarter campaign dealing with design and technology creation or invention comes down to three steps:

Always looking for inefficiencies. Anything that is an annoyance to you is an opportunity for an improvement to me. When zeroing in on an improvement, you are likely to find something that resonates with a particular audience.

Take your heart out of it and evaluate your idea as a business opportunity, not an idea you are in love with. Make certain the idea is significantly better than the competition and can fit in a sizeable market.

Take action. If you never take action and it’s a great idea, it will inevitably become a product [from someone else]. You will walk by it and say ‘I thought of that.’ What could have been the most exciting experience has now turned into a bittersweet one.

What's next for you?

Spending most every waking moment in the single-minded pursuit of getting our generous supporters and backers the Coolest. After that, a long nap.

Published on: Aug 1, 2014