Jen Rubio grew her startup, Away, to $12 million dollars in its first year. Here’s how she disrupted an outdated, commoditized industry.

Jen Rubio, founder of Away

 

Jen grew up in the Philippines and moved to New Jersey when she was 7. She attended the University of Penn for supply chain. An internship with Johnson & Johnson lead to another internship and then a job offer from Neutrogena. Jen didn’t finish her undergrad at Penn State.

After Neutrogena, she got a job at Warby Parker

After Neutrogena, Jen joined Warby Parker as head of social media. While there she she was tasked with building Warby Parker’s community. In fact, she signed up the company for Instagram. During her three years at Warby Parker, Jen gained invaluable experience on building community and customer experience through a brand.

And then it happened…

While traveling from Switzerland to the United States, Jen’s carry-on wheel broke. She didn’t know it at the time, but that broken wheel would lead to a brand new business.

Afterward, Jen posted on Facebook asking for luggage recommendations. Few people replied to the post. After more research, Jen noticed there wasn’t much of a difference between a $400 and $75 piece of luggage.

First class luggage at coach prices

So, in 2016, Jen and former Warby Parker co-worker (Steph Korey) joined forces to disrupt the luggage industry with a hip and minimalist piece of luggage. Jen brought the branding experience and Steph handled supply chain.

They called it ‘Away’

By going direct to consumer, Away was able to cut costs and most importantly, own the customer experience. The result was a super stylish piece of luggage that even included a phone charger for a modest $225.

So far, it’s been working

Away has caught the attention of some impressive investors including Andy Dunn of Bonobos, Brian Lee of The Honest Company and Jeff Kearl of Skullcandy and Stance and Jay Z.

In 2016, Away sold over 55,000 suitcases and generated over $12 million in revenue during their first year. As for the future, Away plans to expand their e-commerce and retail efforts.

At Hustle Con, Jen will share how she took Away from 0 to $12 million and how she created a unique experience for customers within an old, commoditized industry.

You can also check out a short video of Jen’s story here.