- Away, an online luggage seller, announced Wednesday it raised $100 million at $1.4 valuation just three years after it was founded by Jen Rubio and Steph Korey.
- Away is the most recent female-founded company that has been valued at or above $1 billion in recent months, including Emily Weiss’s skincare and makeup company Glossier and Jennifer Hyman’s clothing rental company Rent the Runway.
- Rubio told Business Insider the surge in larger funding rounds and valuations for female-founded companies is encouraging for other women and minorities who are typically “underestimated or overlooked” by investors.
- According to Rubio, the new funding will help her team expand into apparel, accessories, and wellness products.
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When Jen Rubio and Steph Korey started online luggage retailer Away in February 2016, they had modest ambitions. The pair developed a suitcase with a battery to charge mobile devices, and launched a website to sell it.
Three years later, Away is valued at $1.4 billion, thanks to a $100 million funding round from Wellington Management Company LLP, Baillie Gifford, Lone Pine Capital, and Global Founders Capital that was announced this week. Now, Rubio, Away’s president and chief brand officer, says that the company has loftier plans in mind.
“When I look back on the early days, I think what fueled our passion and kept us going was the belief in what we were creating and how much potential we saw to transform the travel experience,” Rubio told Business Insider. “We started with luggage, but our sights have always been set on much more. As the business scales, so will our ambitions.”
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This has already been a blockbuster year for female-founded startups like Away, which is the fifth women-led company to cross the $1 billion valuation threshold in 2019.
Skincare and makeup company Glossier was founded by Emily Weiss in 2014 and announced a $100 million funding round tied to a valuation above $1 billion in March. Jennifer Hyman’s clothing rental company Rent the Runway also reached the $1 billion valuation mark in March, according to a New York Times report. Developer startup Confluent and catering startup ezCater round out the list of female-founded companies that achieved unicorn status in 2019.
“It has definitely been a big year for women in business—if Steph and I can be a part of the case study that proves how valuable it can be to empower and invest in women, I’m all for it,” Rubio told Business Insider. “I hope this is just the beginning for us, and for many other women and minorities who have been underestimated or overlooked.”
The new injection of cash will allow the company to expand beyond suitcases into a larger “travel brand,” Rubio said. The company is exploring new products in the apparel, wellness, and accessories spaces that can help simplify the often mundane travel experience.
“We’re excited to figure out how else we can play a role in travelers’ journeys, not just focusing on what you use to pack, but also what you might need to bring with you—this might includes things like skincare and supplements, or thoughtful apparel for more comfortable travel,” Rubio said.
SEE ALSO: Rent The Runway CEO throws serious shade at profitless tech behemoths: ‘I haven’t been given the permission or privilege to lose a billion every quarter’
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