In our "Weekly Innovation" blog series, we explore an interesting idea, design or product that you may not have heard of yet. Do you have an innovation to share? Use this quick form. That's how we found this week's pick!
Just in time for the return of the football season is a collapsible cooler that will keep your beers cold without ice. It's called the Case Coolie. Like so many great ideas, the founder came up with it over beers with friends.
"We were complaining about how we bought cases of beer to go tailgating, and we were too lazy to get a cooler and a case of ice," said Case Coolie co-founder Nick Niehaus. "We'd have to drink fast or drink warm beer, which wasn't the most pleasurable experience."
Wouldn't it be great, the friends thought, if there were an alternative to a bulky cooler? After a couple of years of prototyping and finding the right business partners, the Case Coolie was created. It's a lightweight, insulated sleeve that fits snugly over a case of beer. The insulation combines an outer layer of neoprene (wet suit material) with an inner layer made of an aluminum PET composite to keep a case of beer "refreshingly cold" for at least 10 hours. The coolie weighs only 1.5 pounds and sells for $29.99.
"From what I've seen in the marketplace, there's a hang-up on this idea that you need ice to keep drinks cold," Niehaus said. "It doesn't make sense to always need ice. It's a waste of electricity to freeze the ice and a waste of water. If you are going to drink the beer within 10 hours of purchasing the drinks, you don't need the ice to keep drinks cold. Then when you're done, you have something you can throw in your backpack, or use it as your seat at the game."
The company's co-founders — Niehaus, Adnan Hussain and Ben Albers — got an initial 1,000 Case Coolies manufactured last year and they're currently available on the company's website. But they've yet to break even on their initial investments, so they're running the company on the side until they can get more stores to carry the product.
"We've proven the concept works, we've proven we can sell it to stores. Now we need people to go into stores and buy it and get re-orders. We want to start growing a lot quicker," Niehaus said.
In the meantime, the Case Coolie shows up at every party Niehaus gets invited to.
"When I go to a party I bring my Case Coolie," he says. "Even if you're gonna be inside, a lot of times you run out of refrigerator space."