The co-founders of luggage maker Away are seeing surprisingly good early results by applying the direct-to-consumer model that Warby Parker championed in eyewear. Also this week: Short-term rental platform Favstay attracted more than $2 million in funding.
>>Away, a luggage maker based in New York, has raised $20 million in Series B funding. Past investors participated again, including Forerunner Ventures, Accel Partners (who led Away’s Seed round), and Global Founders Capital (who led Away’s Series A), and Comcast Ventures.
This round brings Away’s total funding to $31 million.
Steph Korey, co-founder and CEO, says the company has sold $20 million in luggage — shipping 100,000 bags — since its founding in February 2016.
It aims to keep costs down by selling directly to consumers rather than through retailers. That lets it competitively price its bags typically between $225 and $295.
The company plans to use the funding to open at least four retail stores in the U.S. and abroad in 2017. It has one concept store in Soho, New York City, today.
The 66-employee company plans to become a lifestyle brand by creating a podcast, which is about to launch, and an online and print magazine that are on the way.
Co-founders Jen Rubio, who is president and creative director, drive the company’s branding, and Steph Korey is CEO.
Since its Series A the company has added one person, Sarah Wleklinski, to its exec team. She joined Away from Nike and leads Away’s retail and international efforts.
How does Away handle the issue of people not buying luggage very often?
Rubio tells Skift, “Our luggage has a lifetime warranty. But we do find that people often come back to buy another size for themselves or buy our luggage as gifts for others, so from a purchase cycle perspective, we do have people coming back to us already.
“Also, from the start, we’ve always thought of ourselves as a travel brand, not a luggage brand…. Our customers have asked us to make them other travel products, and we’re actively working on that.”
Away’s suitcases are minimalistic in design, except for some tech-savvy features, such as a built-in battery that can charge any USB device, including smartphones. In another distinctive feature, the variously sized Away bags nest inside each other, like Matryoshka dolls, for storage.
Away expects profitability by the end of its second year as it aims to take a small slice of the $32 billion global luggage market.
>>Favstay, a Thai hospitality startup offering condos and villas for rent in Thailand’s top destinations, has secured a $2.88 million Series A investment round supported by 500 TukTuks, the Thailand-focused fund from incubator 500 Startups.
About $1 million of that investment comes from Thailand-based, hospitality company Dusit.
Created in 2015, Favstay is both a rental listing service and a company providing housekeeping and other host services for short-term rentals in Southeast Asia.
FavStay already has more listings — 11,000 — in Thailand than Airbnb, by our count. The startup says it plans to expand to Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia, and Cambodia in 2017. It has a target of 20,000 units, including condos, apartments, residences, and villas by the end of 2017.
Dusit, for its part, has invested as part of its broader strategy of diversifying its lines of business to receive approximately 10 percent of revenue come from new investments in hospitality-related industries.
Check out our previous startup funding roundups, here.
Photo credit: Away co-founders (from left): Steph Korey and Jen Rubio in New York City. The company, launched in February 2016, says it already sold 100,000 bags . Masha Maltsava / Away