SendMyBag has come a long way since being unceremoniously rejected by investors on the BBC TV show Dragon’s Den. Shortly after, the Northern Irish startup, which offers a shipping service that picks up the slack left by airlines who no longer want to take your luggage, raised a modest seed round. Meanwhile, in the last 18 months, the company has transported over 100,000 pieces of luggage.
That’s not too shabby for a startup deemed by one of the Dragons to be “re-inventing the wheel“, after it was revealed that SendMyBag partners with the likes of Parcelforce in the U.K. and FedEx in the U.S. to actually handle shipping.
Building on this traction, SendMyBag is formally launching in the U.S. today, including opening an office in New York charged with local customer service and marketing duties. It’s also adding 50 new routes to and from the U.S., boasting a headline-grabbing offer to send a bag across the pond — U.S. to Europe — from $99.
The timing looks decent, too, as the airline industry continues to reduce luggage capacity, or enforce additional charges, in a bid to increase their bottom line.
Just last week, JetBlue Airways, one of the last major holdouts, announced it was introducing new airfare classes, including a discount class that does not come with a free checked bag. The idea being to pack more seats on a plane and improve profitability — which, of course, means a larger potential market for travellers looking for alternative and cheaper ways to ship their luggage.
“This is still a very new market and the opportunity in the U.S. is huge,” SendMyBag co-founder and CEO Adam Ewart tells me. “Our $99 door-to-door rate is unlike anything anyone has ever offered [for the U.S. to Europe]”.
He also says, by some estimates, that baggage fees in the U.S. will soon reach $4 billion a year (up from $400 million only a few years ago), as airlines attempt to change consumer behaviour, and it won’t be long before hand luggage-only flights become commonplace.
“Airlines are doing all they can to get rid of bags, including losing 654,000 last year. Hand luggage-only flights will be here in the next few years and you’ll not be allowed a lot of hand baggage. Before that though I’m confident that within 18 months you will see SendMyBag as an option on airline websites.”
Were that to happen, this is almost certainly one European startup to watch.