Coolest Cooler raises millions on Kickstarter

Last Updated Jul 25, 2014 7:40 AM EDT

Summer is the season for picnicking, barbecuing and fun in the sun with family and friends -- and it turns out it's also the right season to launch a Kickstarter campaign for the ultimate cooler.

The Coolest Cooler -- a high-tech portable kitchen packed with all the amenities of the 21st century -- is one of the most popular products currently raising money on the crowdfunding site. But it almost didn't work out that way. The inventor initially tried to pitch his product in the dead of winter -- and failed.

Now, on its second try, the Coolest Cooler raised more than $5 million in its first week and became one of the most funded Kickstarter projects of all time. The cooler features a battery-powered blender; waterproof Bluetooth speaker; USB charger; integrated storage for plates and a knife; LED lighting; and, of course, a built-in bottle opener.

A self-described "part visionary, part mad scientist," creator Ryan Grepper tells CBS News he could not be happier at the success the Coolest has achieved. "It's been a surreal eight days that have already exceeded any dream I could have imagined," Grepper said in an email. "I am thrilled that supporters love the Coolest and am overwhelmingly grateful."

Grepper built the first prototype nearly a decade ago -- using parts from a weedwacker and an old car stereo.

"My two biggest loves are having fun with family and friends and the outdoors. This product is everything I always wanted in a cooler," he said.

But the first time he tried funding the project on Kickstarter, it didn't meet with nearly the same success. Last November, his previous model -- similar in design and function -- was launched but did not reach the $125,000 goal.

Disappointed at first, Grepper wouldn't give up and worked to fix the prototype, making it even better than before.

"I learned that I needed to be further along in the design of the product to really showcase my vision. So I created a more advanced prototype," he told CBS News. "I also learned that it's not best to launch a cooler when it's cold out."

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The Coolest, the cooler made for the 21st century

Coolest

The new strategy has obviously paid off. By July 24, when Grepper appeared on "CBS This Morning," his campaign had raised about $7 million. The Coolest might even challenge the record for most money raised on Kickstarter -- $10 million for the Pebble Watch.

Grepper is focused now on delivering the best possible Coolest to all his backers. And he's already starting to think about what's next.

"I am an inventor, so I can't help myself from coming up with new ideas," he said. "The Coolest is about so much more than a cooler. It's about making memories outdoors with friends and family and I'm excited to share more ways to make that happen."

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