I spent several years of my career studying thermal dynamics for food safety, managing the design and manufacturing of insulated products. I was in the trenches. The laboratories, the manufacturing facilities, supplier engineers, materials suppliers, assembly lines, thermal chambers, temp probes, polymers, roto-molds, adhesives, coatings, injection molds, machines and buttons everywhere. Heaven.
I was the guy always asking questions all day, and finding so much new stuff to click about. It was all in public domain, nothing secret, but I just had not found this world before. Energy is a funny thing – heat takes the path of least resistance. A lot like electricity, water, and humans.
But the biggest lesson I had while studying energy: Question everything.
If I back up just a bit, there is a common thread through this. It was coolers. Nearly 10 years ago, I started traveling deep through the Baja desert several times per year. No matter your purpose in Baja, it is always a serious exercise in overlanding; a pursuit where preparation is the bedrock of success. You need to be damn sure you have a cooler that is up for the job. The only choice was Yeti. Back then, it was the longest lasting cooler, but they cost how much? REALLY? With one choice for a real cooler, people of passion paid the price. Perhaps that was their pricing strategy.
While I was in the trenches of thermal chambers and manufacturing facilities, I started to give my Yeti cooler the stink eye. You should NOT cost that much. It actually frustrated me because I felt like I was getting a pretty good look at the truth. From what I knew, I could build a better cooler, but I continued with my existing mandate. I did nothing up to this point.
Until I took inventory. What did I have? I had thermal knowledge. I had manufacturing knowledge. I had manufacturing resources. And I had a problem.
My problem existed that people were still paying way too much for coolers that should be much better.
I witnessed RTIC come to market. They fixed the pricing problem, but they did not fix the value problem. Zero innovation beyond replication. Others coolers showed up also, but nobody was innovating. The coolers should be much better. And Yeti? They are so expensive among other options – now a rather theatrical consumer purchase. And if they are as tough as you say, why does Yeti only have a 5 year warranty?
Why does everyone make the same cooler with the same seal that’s designed for a freezer? Why don’t they design a seal for a high performance cooler?
Now I’m not really sure how this next part happened. I think if it could be explained, or bottled up – then it wouldn’t actually exist. But I experienced it. I resisted the path of least resistance, and I started to put one foot in front of the other toward an unthinkable challenge. I had to find out if I’m supposed to build this new cooler.
I cut up my Yeti cooler into pieces (Don’t worry Yeti, it’s way past your 5 year warranty). More questions, more clicking. I built some proofs of concepts, tested, poked at, and determined yes, I can definitely build a better cooler. Phone calls, quotes, estimates, meetings, agreements, pushing, pulling, and suddenly one day, I said to myself “I’m going to do this. I’m going to be the cooler guy”.
That was just over a year ago.
During that time, I proved that my crazy hinge idea and other improvements absolutely holds ice longer. I drew a huge smile when I found this to be not only an idea, but the truth. I found my professional purpose, it was now MY challenge, and I decided to own it.
I have designed, built, and tested the Maluna Unhinged cooler. It is awesome. By far, my biggest ever accomplishment. I just delivered more than 100 trial production run coolers to the Maluna Unhinged Focus Group on Facebook, and everyone is super stoked. Thank you to everyone in that group for your continuing support and encouragement. Please keep it up, I need it.
I have worked with my partners to prepare a dedicated overseas production facility, with brand new equipment. I have designed and built production and QC procedures, put together a production schedule, secured materials supply sources, prepared a fleet of molds to support a strong production presence.
I have decided to offer this cooler as a project on Kickstarter. It’s scheduled for March 1 campaign, and I will be prepared. I will have a solid amount of inventory ready to ship to the early backers as soon as the campaign concludes, and if necessary, production will continue to double shift until every cooler is shipped. My manufacturing team is rock solid. I have worked well together with this crew on many challenges for several years, everything seemingly preparing us for this project.
Here is the important part: The people, equipment, materials, and supplies are already in place to support the schedule of deliveries I will offer on Kickstarter.
I intend to sell the Maluna 50 quart (actually 52.5 quarts) cooler for under $200 as a special price during Kickstarter with a lifetime warranty. This compares to the Yeti 65 (actually 57 quarts) which sells for $400 with a 5 year warranty.
Please join me on this journey. I am less than 8 weeks away from launching the campaign, and there is a lot to do and discover. I’ve had a ton of fun sharing this journey so far and making new friends. I will continue to share every step of the way. 2017 is going to be a choice year, I look forward to sharing it with you.