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.
"The moment I saw it, I knew I had to carry it," says Tamara Kenyon, retail manager for Cascade Outfitters, a 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. Jonathan Blum
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