Steph and Jenna discuss the leadership, planning, and processes enabling Away to scale internationally and accommodate a projected $10 million in sales during their first year.
Insights from Steph
On Reimagining Travel Through the Details:
- "We call our suitcases thoughtful luggage because every detail has been thoughtfully considered for the way people truly travel today. The features are based on travelers' needs, not marketing campaigns."
- "It’s hard to think about what you need in a product or what you need to be changed in an experience. It’s easier to talk through how you experience things and what your pain points are. We interviewed 800 travelers - from students and salespeople to photographers - to understand their travel routines from end to end. You have to dig for the tiny details that people may have never thought of. The little touchpoints are what matter and make things effortless."
- "We are not a luggage company. We are a travel brand. Our mission is to help people get away seamlessly. If you stay in your home bubble you miss out on experiencing the world."
On Phenomenal Customer Experience:
- "The customer's best interest always wins. Customer experience is everything. Always go out of your way."
- "Listen to your customers. They are the guiding force for your strategy."
On Forging the Right Brand Partnerships:
- "Brand partnerships are so nuanced and each one is really different. Across the board, everyone has to have terrific customer experience. If a brand does not prioritize the customer experience at the same high level and standard that we do there is an inherent mismatch. Dedication to the customer and customer experience is critical."
On Anticipating and Capitalizing on Growth:
- "We’re putting out all of the stops to keep up with our growth. It’s about being thoughtful and process oriented to make sure we continue to offer an incredible customer experience as the volume scales."
- "We implemented processes on day one when it was just Jen and me. It’s a constant audit about what our processes are and how are we evolving them to keep up with building the team. Just because something worked a month ago doesn’t mean it’s going to work today. Always be rethinking things and be very flexible with change."
- "Supply chain management is about advanced planning. You need systems that run like a well oiled machine."
- "You can’t operate in a vacuum in the supply chain world. The decisions that everyone is making around you have a telling impact on your ability to successfully execute supply chain decisions. Something as small as the product that is going to be the homepage in six months requires advanced communication and planning. Even if something seems unrelated, it will have an impact."
- "If you have an amazing enough product and customer experience, customers outside of your core market will be very understanding about not having a completely localized experience in the beginning. However, when you’re capable, localization is extremely important and has to be a part of your plan."
On Startup Grad School:
- "The learnings you glean on the job and decisions you have to make in the moment cannot be matched in any other environment. They are invaluable."
- "I want to learn anything the internet has to teach. That’s what keeps things interesting, when you keep learning new skills and do things you never thought you’d know how to do."
- "The number one thing that can make someone successful is an appetite for learning. Be inquisitive. Believe that you are capable of learning how to do anything."