Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

A cooler ice cooler

A lunch drenched by melted ice prompted entrepreneur Paul Lavallee to rethink the ice cooler.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)
By Jonathan Blum

cooler.03.jpg
P3's modules are designed to be filled with water and frozen, to fit snugly around items such as a six-pack.
Next Little Thing 2010
Wireless electricity. Invisible speakers. A mind-reading headset. See what's coming in 2010.

(Fortune Small Business) -- Many experienced campers have had food ruined by melted ice in a cooler. Most get over it. But when it happened to Canadian robotics lab technician Paul Lavallee on a trip to Alberta's Red Deer River, he vowed to make a better kind of cooler.

It would use a moat of ice water, hemmed in by plastic walls, to keep contents cold and dry. Different modules would fit snugly around common items such as a six-pack. You would grab whichever modules you needed from the fridge, hook them together and go. Better yet, you could drink the ice as it melts. Wash, fill, cool and repeat.

Like many cool ideas, this one sat in a desk drawer for years. Then, in 2005, Lavallee attended an entrepreneurial workshop, did some market research and founded P3 Innovations. With $200,000 in funding from friends and family, the company created 30 testing prototypes of the Ice³ cooler in 18 months.

"This could not be a simple blow-molded item, like a dog bowl," says Lavallee, 45. "I needed to invest in a serious design process to get the thing to work the way I wanted."

Carrying a mere 28 units from his first production run of 100 modules, the Calgary-based entrepreneur headed south to the 2009 Outdoor Retailer Trade Show in Salt Lake City. The Ice³ was an instant hit.

"The moment I saw it, I knew I had to carry it," says Tamara Kenyon, retail manager for Cascade Outfitters, a Boise, Idaho, catalog company that sells cutting-edge camping equipment. She ordered a dozen on the spot and will feature P3's modules in Cascade's 2010 catalog. P3 Innovations now has an inventory of 5,000 units, as well as an order from megaretailer L.L. Bean.

Lavallee isn't out of the woods yet. To scale up its production equipment, P3 needs to raise an additional $150,000. And some outdoor experts say the Ice³ is less likely to appeal to weekend campers, who make up the fastest-growing segment of the market and tend to own coolers already.

But Lavallee is confident that enough ice-soaked lunches will turn doubters into customers.  To top of page

To write a note to the editor about this article, click here.




QMy dream is to launch my own business someday. Now that it's time to choose a major, I'm debating if I should major in entrepreneurial studies or major in engineering to acquire a set of skills first. Is majoring in entrepreneurship a good choice? More
Get Answer
- Spate, Orange, Calif.
Sponsors
Best places to retire abroad in 2017 The top 10 places to retire overseas include beautiful beaches, cozy towns, and the best food you will ever eat -- all for half the cost of what you may pay in the U.S. More
Best business class airline lounges around the world Between August 2015 and May 2016, Skytrax surveyed over 19.2 million customers to find the best airline lounges. Here is what they found. More
What Boeing's new 737 Max 9 has under the hood Boeing unveiled its new, longer 737 Max 9 airliner earlier this month, the second member of the updated single-aisle jet family. The first aircraft will deliver to airlines starting in 2018. More
Worry about the hackers you don't know 
Crime syndicates and government organizations pose a much greater cyber threat than renegade hacker groups like Anonymous. Play
GE CEO: Bringing jobs back to the U.S. 
Jeff Immelt says the U.S. is a cost competitive market for advanced manufacturing and that GE is bringing jobs back from Mexico. Play
Hamster wheel and wedgie-powered transit 
Red Bull Creation challenges hackers and engineers to invent new modes of transportation. Play