Ryan McGann, above, in an undated photo, got an $800,000...

Ryan McGann, above, in an undated photo, got an $800,000 boost for his solar-powered cooler. Credit: Sam Levitan

Ryan McGann's parents refused to buy him a dirt bike when he was 10.

So he used a snowblower and a 10-speed bicycle to make one. His parents, concerned about his safety on the homemade device, relented on the purchase.

Now 27, McGann, who in 2009 earned a master's degree in mechanical engineering from Stony Brook University, has built a portable solar-powered cooler that can refrigerate food or drinks at the beach or on a camping trip. McGann even chilled some margaritas in the cooler.

The device just got him $800,000 from investors after he showed it to the Long Island Angel Network, a forum that matches entrepreneurs with venture capitalists.

"I was always building stuff, working on cars and bikes," McGann said. "When I didn't have a toy as a kid, I made it."

He invented the cooler a few years ago and used it for personal trips he made. In 2007 he entered the cooler in a technology competition at Stony Brook and won $20,000.

McGann has started a company, Ignite Ignitions Llc, in Stony Brook to help market the cooler. It comes with a battery and is also able to charge a cellphone, run a radio or even a 12-volt blender, possibly for margaritas.

"I've got 3,000 orders," McGann said. "I've got big-box stores interested."

Michael Faltischek, a senior partner at the Ruskin Moscou Faltischek law firm in Uniondale and a founder of the Angel Network, called McGann "an inventive young man" and said he will be helped with the development of the cooler.


Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months