Away Luggage; Partnership, Networking and Life Lessons

    I recently found out that my L.L. Bean luggage is very uncool 😊.

    My niece let me know after she listened to Away’s founder on this recent How I Built This Podcast – another episode I highly recommend b/c it was so fascinating and inspiring.

    I told my son about the podcast, and he too immediately let me know that no self-respecting millennial would be caught dead with L.L. Bean (so he got new Away luggage for his birthday). So now, sadly, we can never replicate the above photo (taken on a pheasant hunting trip in Rapid City, South Dakota).

    Millennials like Away luggage b/c it really is affordable (especially when your Dad buys it), and it is extremely functional with scuff-proof shells, built-in phone chargers, GPS location tags, and other great features.

    What I loved about the podcast was learning about the founder, Jen Rubio. She immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines when she was a young girl and tells a great story about her first trip to the U.S. She heard that it snowed here, so she insisted on wearing a snowsuit during the entire plane-ride only to land on a hot September day with no snow in sight… for several months no less.

    She ended up not finishing college b/c she was obsessed with working, taking every internship she could find all through school. Once she did leave college, she bounced from job to job learning obscure skills and building her network, but never focusing on salary. She even had a job just tweeting the location of food trucks, as that was “social media marketing” back in the day.

    She continued to hone her social media marketing skills and ended up working at Warby Parker (the eyewear seller) where she met her future partner – which would prove crucial for her success.

    Jen founded Away in 2015 and they have already sold over 1 million units and the company also already has a $1 billion+ valuation. It was fascinating to hear how innovative they had to be too when they first launched b/c they failed to account for how long it would take for their first manufacturing order to deliver.


    My favorite takeaway from podcast though was Ms. Rubios’s comment in regard to finding a partner. She said to always make sure that all potential partners have multiple opportunities and that they would be very successful even if they never met you. I love this advice b/c I have seen far too many people bring on partners who are liabilities instead of assets.

    She also found a partner who was the perfect complement to herself, as Jen is the visionary/idea person and her partner is the implementer.


    The other big lesson from the podcast is the importance of building a powerful network. Ms. Rubio is clearly charming and very capable, and she built contacts everywhere she went. Her Warby Parker background was particularly important, as it fostered her future partner, her financing, her reputation, and her key advisors.

    Jay Voorhees
    Founder/Broker | JVM Lending
    (855) 855-4491 | DRE# 01524255, NMLS# 310167

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