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How Away Sold 1200 Bags Before Their First Product Was Released
In 2015, two cofounders decided to start a direct-to-consumer(D2C) luggage brand. They set their eyes on launching in the December holiday season.
But as Christmas approached, they realized their luggage wasn't coming from the supplier in time.
Despite this, they managed to sell 1200 bags before having any products.
Here’s how they pulled it off 👇:
Let’s start with some background, Away was founded by Steph Korey and Jen Rubio who both worked at Warby Parker.
Steph ran supply chain and Jen handled marketing, so it’s safe to say they knew the D2C industry inside out.
Almost a fifth of all annual sales happen during the holiday season, so, it's no surprise that Jen and Steph were keen on making sure they were in on the action.
In order not to miss it, they decided to sell a travel book and include a gift card for a free carry-on bag with each one.
To make the book, they interviewed 40 influencers with loyal followings (writers, artists, photographers, etc.) and offered them free suitcases as a thank-you for participating and spreading the word.
They then flooded social media with ads.
And it paid off, The book went viral on Instagram, and by the end of December 1200 copies were sold!
Beyond The Presale Campaign
The camping was definitely a very smart move, but how did Away manage to survive while the other suitcase startups failed?
Here are two factors that I think helped:
A suitcase isn’t an item that is replaced often, especially when you give a lifetime warranty with it.
So, from the start, Away focused on making every purchase profitable. They also branched out to more replaceable accessories.
Product Market Fit:
Before launching, Steph and Jen asked 50 friends to fill out a survey to assist them in designing the bags.
They asked each respondent to pass the survey along to 5 people.
They received 800 responses, which revealed key customer needs like extra packing space, a spot for dirty clothes, and a power bank.
Away has definitely had its ups and downs. They had to furlough employees due to COVID but it looks like they've returned to their pre-COVID employment levels (around 500 employees) according to LinkedIn so I think they’re doing well.
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