The Coolest cooler has $6.8 million in Kickstarter funding with 37 days left to go, as of this writing, putting it on track to surpass the Pebble smartwatch as the most-funded project on the site of all time, ever. According to Kicktraq, Coolest could rake in more than $22 million by the end of its run. Pebble, the smartwatch of crowdfunding lore, snagged over $10 million in funds. It wouldn't seem like such an unreasonable achievement for Coolest, except for the fact that it's essentially a cooler with a battery.
The thousand-plus comments on Coolest's Kickstarter reveal that people are genuinely excited to pay $300 for the cooler of the future, which includes a USB port, a built-in battery-powered blender, and Bluetooth speakers—all the better for louder, more drunken tailgating. Now that Coolest has surpassed its original $50,000 goal, a lot of people are jonesing for a solar panel as a "stretch goal."
As far as the technology goes, Coolest's isn't very revolutionary. It's mostly clever rigging of a battery, and some thoughtful engineering. The icebox includes a bottle opener, for example. Yet, nearly 35,000 people have pledged their money for a product that some suggest will have problems delivering, a common problem for the most popular Kickstarter projects.
The only three explanations that we at Fast Company can think of for why this has gone viral are as follows:
Coolest creator Ryan Grepper launched a similar campaign last winter that failed for what he attributes to seasonal reasons. He has updated the product a bit, and lowered the threshold for success from $125k to $50k. Switching to summer should not be underestimated. The success of Kickstarter campaigns depends on tapping into enthusiasm, according to University of Pennsylvania professor Ethan Mollick. "What Kickstarter does is translate things that are interesting to you into financial action," the marketing professor told NPR. Being cold is not interesting to people in the winter.
Kickstarter has essentially turned into the Skymall of the Internet. Skymall, in fact, offers a handful of souped-up coolers, such as the folding-chair cooler and the IcyBreeze Portable Air Conditioner/Cooler.
Hate to say this, but: Potato salad.