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Coolest Cooler
(Coolest Cooler Photo)

The ice melted many months ago. The drinks are beyond warm by now.

Kickstarter backers who are still waiting on their Coolest Cooler deliveries got more lukewarm news on Friday in the latest — now quarterly — update from project creator Ryan Grepper. Grepper said that making it through the end of 2016 was no “walk in the park” and referenced problems with being undercut on price by Amazon Launchpad as well as legal troubles — the Portland-based company is being investigated by the Oregon Department of Justice.

Heading into the third year of the ongoing saga, Grepper said the team at Coolest is now “smaller” and “leaner” and they remain focused on getting the high-tech Coolest Coolers, which blend drinks and play music and charge your device, into the hands of all remaining backers. The project originally raised more than $13 million from 62,642 backers to set a Kickstarter record.

Grepper said money raised in December enabled the company to ship 35 coolers recently, with another 50 scheduled for next week.

Here is the full text of his update, which had more than 250 comments on Friday afternoon:

I’m hoping this update finds you in full swing for 2017.

As promised in our last update, here’s our first quarterly summary.

The last months of 2016 were not what you’d call a walk in the park for us, but the good news is we made it through.

As you may remember, Amazon Launchpad was selling our product for half-off throughout last Fall, which came very close to driving us out of business. (We shared that previously here).

Fortunately, they ran out of their inventory just in time for the holidays. That helped us generate enough sales in December to ship at least some more Backer rewards to you guys. Not a huge number by any means (35 so far, with another scheduled for 50 next week), but still a step in the right direction.

Our other challenge has been dealing with the legal inquiries from last Fall. I kept delaying sending this update expecting this would be resolved by now, but as it’s still pending I can’t share as many details as I’d like. Hopefully it’s close to conclusion and we’ll let you know when more info is available.

We enter this year with a smaller, leaner team here at Coolest. But our mission remains the same: We’re focused on building the business so that we can generate the revenue needed to get every remaining Backer their Coolest Reward. This isn’t going to be easy, and it won’t happen overnight, but every day that our doors are open gets us one step closer to that goal.

I’d like to thank you again for your support and patience in this process.

Best wishes to you and yours for a wonderful 2017,

– Ryan

Portland’s Oregonian newspaper reported that Amazon Launchpad caused the biggest headache for Grepper, when it began selling Coolest Coolers on the site for $225 in September — 50 percent off an earlier price of $450.

Coolest Cooler
Josh Belzman of Seattle hangs out along the Ship Canal in Fremont while showing off the Coolest Cooler he finally got his hands on in July 2016. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Seattle’s Josh Belzman spent $185 to back the project back in 2014. When Coolest ran into production problems and eventually said backers could plunk down another $100 to get their cooler, Belzman went for that guarantee. And the thing actually showed up.

Last July, he brought the cooler by the GeekWire offices and we made drinks … before temporarily breaking it. Belzman reacted to the latest update on Friday.

“Seeing how this has played out, I’m glad I bit the bullet and paid extra to get my cooler last summer,” Belzman told GeekWire via email. “It was nice to have it for some road trips. I do feel bad for those who are still waiting and it stung a bit to see the cooler being sold for less than the backer price on Amazon and other sites.

“There’s a lesson to all this but I’m not quite sure what it is. Maybe it’s: Don’t be so eager for a pre-sale ‘deal’ that may not end up being such a deal after all.”

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