Away Travel: The Startup Taking Over Luggage

By now, you’ve likely heard their ads — Away Travel, your luggage should pull more than its weight. If you haven’t, you can expect to soon. Founded by a pair of former Warby Parker employees, Away is one of the hottest new startups in the luggage space. So, today, Ignitia takes a closer look at what has led this NYC-based startup to become poised to take control of the luggage industry.

A Winning Idea

In 2015, co-founders Steph Korey and Jen Rubio left Warby Parker to found, Away. At the time their goal was to make a high-quality suitcase that could be sold at a fraction of the price. In so doing, the pair adopted the Warby Parker method of cutting out the middle-man. The result was a direct-to-consumer model, with a much lower overhead production cost.

And the market was ripe for it. The gap the pair identified was between the poorly made less-expensive luggage choices, and the more expensive yet higher-quality designer brands. So, the pair set out determined to fill the gap, and to sell high-quality luggage at a fraction of the price.

The Product’s Appeal

From the start, the team planned not to make ‘smart luggage’, but instead aimed to make, ‘thoughtful luggage’. All of the features included in Away luggage were culled from interviews conducted with over 8,000 frequent travelers. And the effort paid off.

One of the first things people notice about Away luggage is the weight. Weighing only about seven pounds, Away luggage is extremely light-weight. Especially considering its size. Each bag comes equipped with standard 360-degree wheels, and a unique compression system that allows travelers to fit more into the smaller space. All luggage is made of a durable hard-shelled plastic, and comes equipped with individualized compartments for separating items. One of the most notable features however, is the USB charging outlet found on every piece of Away luggage. Finally, and perhaps the most appealing feature of the luggage, is the price. Starting around $225 for carry-ons, Away is much cheaper than traditional designer luggage, which can cost into the thousands. Thus, by selling direct-to-consumers, Away is able to produce unmatched quality at a fraction of the cost.

Raising Funding

After founding the company in 2015, a mere six months later, in August of 2015, the team managed to raise $2.5 million in seed-round funding. The round was led by Accel Partners, and Forerunner Ventures, and saw nine other investors participate in the round. In September of 2016, the company raised another round of Series A funding, this time led by Global Founders Capital, worth another $8.5 million. Then in 2017, after selling nearly 200K suitcases, Away was rewarded with another round of Series B funding worth another $20 million. The round was again led by investor Global Founders Capital, and closed on May 19, 2017. The round was reportedly secured after Away’s impressive $20 million in revenue, and brought the total funding of the company to $31 million.

So far, Away has proved once again there will always be a market for companies who listen to their customers and model their businesses accordingly.