The company behind the Coolest Cooler, which raised £10 million on Kickstarter, only to preside over one of the biggest disasters in the short history of crowd-funding, is calling it a day.
The cooler, which integrated a Bluetoooth speaker, USB charging port and built-in drinks mixer, into its ice box on wheels, remains the second most popular Kickstarter project ever, but was blighted by production issues that left backers empty handed for years.
Now, despite the issues going back almost five years, the company has confirmed to backers it is going out of business, citing the impact of tariffs on trade between the US and China as the final straw.
The company’s embattled CEO Ryan Grepper, said the increase in tariffs from Chinese imports to 25% was too much for the struggling firm to handle.
Related: Blocks smartwatch Kickstarter fail
“It was devastating to our business, and I know it was felt by many of you in one way or another as consumers and thousands of small businesses everywhere,” he said in an email to backers, which can be seen in full below.
Kickstarter told The Verge that around one third of all the 60,000 backers have yet to receive their reward. The best they can hope for now, from their initial $200 outlay, is $20 in compensation following a settlement with the Oregon’s Department of Justice in 2017.
Rubbing salt into the wound, just before the weekend, it emerged that the company was holding a fire sale on coolers, with up to 60% off, even with outstanding backers yet to receive their rewards. At the time of writing, there isn’t much stock left.
It isn’t the first time the company has incurred the ire of empty handed backers in this manner. Back in 2016, Grepper told backers they could actually have their Coolest Cooler if they were happy to fork over another $97 for the privilege.
Somehow we don’t think we’ve heard the end of this saga.