Away has so far managed the tricky transition to brand extensions beyond suitcases. The established travel goods industry will be watching with envy if the startup can continue to pull off its empire-building.
Luggage maker Away has raised $100 million in new funding.
Wellington Management led the round, which placed a $1.4 billion valuation on the travel goods retailer. The funding brought the New York-based startup’s total equity funding to $156 million since its founding in 2016.
Away sold $150 million in luggage and other products in 2018. It has a goal of doubling its revenues this year.
Jen Rubio, co-founder and chief brand officer of Away, said that since early last year the company had successfully broadened its sales from an initial focus on suitcases.
Rubio said the company would use the funding to help develop more travel-themed products, such as apparel, wellness, and lifestyle accessories. Away, which has seven stores, intends to open about 50 more stores in the next three years in the U.S. and the UK.
When Away debuted in 2016, it touted suitcases that included a battery pack for charging on the fly. However, in January 2018, Away and rival luggage makers stumbled when several U.S. airlines banned luggage with batteries that can’t be removed. Promising smart luggage makers like Bluesmart crashed. Away escaped the problem by making sure its battery was easily removable and below power limits set by the U.S. Transportation Safety Administration.
Not everyone liked Away’s early suitcases. The review site Maphappy posted a mixed review, faulting the bag for durability after extensive testing. But later products like a soft weekender bag earned positive reviews.
As a mostly direct-to-consumer brand, Away sought unconventional, cost-effective ways to reach potential customers. Relying heavily on content marketing, it created a blog, a magazine, and a podcast, while also investing heavily in Instagram-friendly content.
Photo credit: Launched in 2016 by CEO Steph Korey (right) and chief brand officer Jen Rubio, Away has gone on to raise multiple rounds of funding for its direct-to-consumer sales of luggage and other travel accessories. Masha Maltsava / Away