Away nears 100K stylish suitcases sold as it raises $20M

What do people actually want in luggage? A phone charger, unbreakable exterior, and maximum packing space at a resonable price is what Away discovered. So it built a line of sleek but expansive polycarbonite suitcases equipped with battery packs, and sold them direct-to-consumer.

Now after selling nearly 100,000 suitcases and generating $20 million in revenue, Away has raised a $20 million Series B led by existing investor Global Founders Capital plus Forerunner Ventures and Accel Partners. That cash brings Away to $31 million raised, and will fund its entry into retail with plans to open four to six retail stores. Next, Away seeks to become a lifestyle brand with its new podcast and forthcoming print and digital magazine.

Finally, Away will grow its product line from the two carry-on and two checked luggage pieces it makes. Co-founder Jen Rubio tell me Away plans to “make the one-perfect everything that you need for travel.” While she wouldn’t give specifics, you could imagine the startup selling an Away toiletry kit.

By applying lean startup methodology and the direct-to-consumer strategy Rubio and co-founder Steph Korey learned as some of the first 15 employees at Warby Parker, Away is shaking up the stodgy luggage market. The company launched just 15 months ago, but initially focused on customer surveys to find the needs unfulfilled by over-priced luxury luggage, ugly utility products, and budget brands whose suitcases brokedown quickly.

I’ve been testing Away’s checked and carry-on luggage and found them to hit the sweet spot between its competitors. The shells don’t crack or dent under abuse. The phone charger with external USB plug on the carry-on is useful when you don’t want to sit on the floor of an airport. And they fit a remarkable amount of stuff in a compact package.