A Winning Shot in the Dark
LiddUp provides a case study for successfully taking an innovative idea to market.
A few years ago, dental sales and customer service representative Jayson Sandberg was on a camping trip during a three-day weekend with his family and friends in Lee Canyon near his home of Las Vegas. One night around the fire, Sandberg was enjoying a few adult beverages and noticed his can was nearly empty.
He walked to the cooler packed with drinks for the entire family — juices, sodas, water, etc. — and his beer. In near-pitch-black darkness, he lifted the cooler lid and pushed his hand into the icy mix. Without a flashlight, he couldn’t differentiate among the beverages. He grabbed one and returned to his seat near the warmth of the fire. He cracked the can and took a sip.
It was the worst-tasting beer ever. It wasn’t even a beer — it was a soda.
Such is how the idea for LiddUp was born: A family guy, upset over the fact he couldn’t easily locate a fireside ale to drink with family and friends, decided to do something about it. He figured lighting a cooler couldn’t be that difficult.
“’This has to be simple,’ I initially thought,” Sandberg says. “So I got to work in my garage. I spent a considerable amount of time tinkering. On one stretch, I recall spending more than 16 hours working on the prototype. I had to experiment and figure out what worked and what didn’t work. I took the prototype to the campground and invited other families to come and see it. They loved it. They all asked, “Where can I get one?”
A GAME CHANGER
LiddUp technology is a cooler-industry game changer for several reasons. Its patented interior and exterior lighting systems use open-activated LED technology, provides 360-degree interior visibility and, most importantly, produces no heat — which means beverages stay cold. The lighting system does not compromise space, insulation or temperature retention and allows for full visibility, even when the cooler is loaded. It also is 100% shock resistant and fully waterproof, and runs on interchangeable batteries that function for up to 40 continuous hours of use.
Additional benefits of an LED lighting system include: lower energy consumption, longer life span and durability, less space occupied, faster switching (automatic when opened) and the ability for color customization. This is big because serious tailgaters will want coolers with their school’s or team’s colors “LiddUp” inside.
Seeing the wide utility of this innovative product, Taylor Gwiazdon, Sandberg’s business partner, came on board soon after to assist. Gwiazdon had previously worked as an engineer and currently is marketing executive for a large Las Vegas casino.
TWO TWISTS OF FATE
In 2012, Sandberg and Gwiazdon pitched LiddUp to ABC’s “Shark Tank” team and, after their episode aired during the show’s fourth season in April 2013, the duo struck a deal. However, consistent with Shark Tank rules, Sandberg and Gwiazdon couldn’t speak about what happened until after the episode aired.
In another twist of fate, just months prior — at the 2013 Sports Licensing and Tailgate Show in Las Vegas — they met with Igloo executives. “I can remember the Igloo exec looking at our display,” Sandberg says. “He said, ‘It looks like you guys really have something here.’” It was the beginning of a partnership that, effective in 2014, means LiddUp LED technology is used exclusively in Igloo coolers.
Gwiazdon says LiddUp is proud of the infused technology partnership. “Igloo is the industry leader for cooler manufacturing and currently holds approximately 44% of the world market share,” he says. “An Igloo cooler is sold every 1.6 seconds and we are excited to be a part of their production line.”
Igloo’s first product using Liddup technology is the Party Bar cooler, which will be unveiled in two national retailers this month. Sandberg says the future is bright, no pun intended, for LiddUp’s LEDs, noting that there was a time when “no one had lights in their refrigerators, and now it is a standard.”
What about future product infusions? “Let’s just say we’ve got a few things up our sleeve,” says Gwiazdon, who sounds wholly committed to leading the beverage cooler market out of the antiquated dark ages.
Chris Warner is an Alabama-based writer and former radio talk show host. He is the author of “A Tailgater’s Guide to SEC Football Vol. IV,” and several other books. To contact Chris, visit his website at southernbeachreads.com.