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LI Solar Cool switches pitch to distributors

Ryan McGann of Shoreham, founder of Solar Cool

Ryan McGann of Shoreham, founder of Solar Cool Technologies Inc., presents his solar-powered refrigerating cooler during the International CES conference at The Venetian casino-hotel in Las Vegas on Jan. 9, 2014. His company failed to draw much investor support in crowdfunding. Credit: Erik Verduzco

A Long Island entrepreneur's solar-powered cooler company, which drew buzz during its debut at the International Consumer Electronics Show in January, will change its business strategy after falling short in a direct-to-consumer campaign.

Solar Cool Technologies of Stony Brook floundered in an attempt to attract customers through crowdfunding platform Indiegogo -- the company raised only $536 toward its $150,000 goal.

Company founder and cooler inventor Ryan McGann said Monday he's shifting his focus to selling to distributors that may have better channels to shoppers.

The Solar Cooler, powered by solar panels and a rechargeable battery that can keep the inside cold enough to make ice, garnered interest from tech blogs and attendees at the CES show in Las Vegas.

The 50-pound, 38-quart capacity cooler would retail for $1,200. Although the media interest didn't translate to any purchases from consumers, it put the company on the map for distributors, McGann said.

"We had an unexpected, really good switch in direction: an enormous influx of distributors and retailers contacting us," he said.

Companies from Brazil, Australia, Europe and the Middle East have expressed interest in the cooler. Solar Cool Technologies has received four letters of intent from distributors, McGann said.

Solar Cool's 45-day stint on the Indiegogo website attracted 17 donors, who pitched in $1 to $150 each. No one opted to spend $950, to receive the actual product at a discount. As per the policy of most social funding sites, the funds will be returned to the donors because the goal wasn't met.

McGann said he plans to launch another crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter this week to help raise the company's profile as he continues to pursue distributors.

"Indiegogo, internationally, doesn't get a lot of traction -- but Kickstarter does," he said.

Representatives from Indiegogo did not respond to requests for comment.

McGann said he still plans to assemble the coolers in New York and is reaching out to state and local officials for assistance to establish a larger assembly facility.

Currently, he said, he has the ability to assemble 500 to 2,000 coolers at the Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center in Stony Brook, where the company is headquartered.

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