Most entrepreneurs find themselves rising to the occasion by being in the right place at the right time and with the right idea. For Steph Korey, her ascent to the top had more to do with the everyday problems that we face while traveling: poor quality luggage at unaffordable prices.
Long before her company had accrued more than $2.5 million in first-round seeding, Steph and a close friend had a long conversation about traveling, poor quality luggage, and the inaccessible divide between the two.
Steph Korey says of that initial (and important) conversation, “We got to talking about why there wasn’t an affordable, durable option on the market and we wondered what it would take to make one.”
Steph Korey’s Journey to the Top
A great idea requires action, knowledge, and a powerful skillet to turn it into a successful business. Steph Korey would attend Brown University where she earned her B.A. in International Relations before acquiring her MBA from Columbia Business School.
While education was pivotal in developing her skills and processes, Korey also found that practical work in the field was a great educator. Korey would join with Warby Parker to coordinate logistics for the acquisition of raw materials, transferring from supplier to manufacturer and manufacturer to consumer. Warby Parker specializes in affordable eyewear, a precursor to what Steph would pursue later in her career.
Alongside Jen Rubio, friend and brand marketer, Korey would use their past experiences to develop the global lifestyle brand, Away.
Developing a Winning Experience
When Steph Korey and her partners were first brainstorming and developing the ideas that became Away, they had to dig deep into what they were looking for from the perfect product.
Korey said of her friend’s struggle with luggage in an interview with Colombia Magazine, “She didn’t know whether to shell out a lot of money for high-quality luggage or to buy something else cheap that wouldn’t last.”
Taking that idea in stride, Korey suggested that they try to accomplish both in the same affordable package. Korey and Rubio would end up interviewing nearly 800 people regarding their travel habits, including how they pack and what they do at the airport. For Steph, these conversations were priceless.
Entrepreneur Steph Korey said of her interviews, “We wanted to map out the whole experience to figure out the pain points.”
Throughout these interviews, Korey and Rubio noted one throughline – people were tired of heavy bags. This would lead Korey and Rubio to seek out more durable materials that are light enough to travel with while still retaining durability.
Korey says, “Every one of our materials has gone through extensive durability testing.”
Speaking about the tests they’ve conducted, Korey quips, “It’s basically like throwing the suitcase out of a third-floor window… over and over again.”
While durability is integral to the success of Away, it isn’t their only place of innovation. Installed USB ports allow travelers to charge any USB-powered device while on the go.