“Imagine a world where you never lose your luggage,” says CEO of Bluesmart, Diego Saez-Gil. He motions to a compact carry-on suitcase sitting beside us and tells me he can track this piece of luggage anywhere.
Saez-Gil’s Y Combinator-backed startup makes these hardshell suitcases. It can locate, lock and weigh your belongings from an app on your smartphone.
It operates on a detachable, Bluetooth-enabled motherboard with a built-in GPS. Weight sensors embedded within the handle let you know if your suitcase meets international travel guidelines. There’s even a built-in, 37-watt lithium-ion battery and a USB plug so you can power your smartphone up to six times while on the go.
The app tracks which airports the case has been to, how many miles traveled and how much time was spent in each country.
The Bluesmart suitcase fits international carry-on size standards and will automatically lock if you walk away from it. But, should the battery lose power, it comes with a TSA-approved master key that will help you (or airport security) get inside. It also comes with an easy-to-access laptop compartment so you can pull out your computer right before the security line.
Gil and his four co-founders, Tomi Pierucci, Alejo Verlini, Brian Chen and Martin Diz, are in Y Combinator’s current batch of companies, but they’ve already raised more than $2 million for Bluesmart. The majority of that money comes from an Indiegogo campaign that went 3,860 percent over the original goal of $50,000.
Three of Bluesmart’s founding team are overseas at the moment, maneuvering the world of Chinese manufacturing in order to ensure the more than 8,000 Indiegogo and pre-orders come to fruition this August.[gallery columns="5" ids="1109790,1109824,1109784,1109783,1109786"]
Gil didn’t think the suitcases would be that popular when the idea first came to him. He says he was just building something he thought could have saved him some trouble one time on a trip home to Argentina.
“I was trying to bring a bunch of electronics, some iPads, home to my family for Christmas. These sorts of things are really expensive there. So I load it all up in my suitcase and when I got off the plane they couldn’t find my luggage. It’s days before Christmas, I called everywhere. No luggage.”
The airport did end up locating all his stuff, but his family had to wait a week after Christmas for their gifts.
What was a horrible experience for him and his family sparked an idea. Make a trackable suitcase.
Saez-Gil had previous experience in travel tech with another startup called WeHostels that hooked up travelers with hostels (sold to StudentUniverse). What he needed now was someone who understood hardware.
His friend, and fellow Argentinian, Pierucci, was his guy. He had hardware experience and a PhD in aerospace engineering. Saez-Gil figured he’d be a good person to spit-ball ideas with and asked him to meet for coffee to discuss. He credits Pierucci for helping him hatch the idea for connected luggage.
The two brought in three other founders to the team to help with the logistics it would take to combine both hardware and software. A prototype was made and Bluesmart was born.
The suitcase costs $280 right now. However, Gil says the price will be going up in a week and that the carry-on luggage item will eventually reach $400.
“I see this as eventually becoming a lifestyle brand like GoPro,” he tells me. “Samsonite is a $4 billion company. I want to be a big player in the travel space and compared to Tumi or Samsonite so the price will reflect that.”
Bluesmart now employs eight people, including the five founders. Saez-Gil is on the lookout for more engineers but says he doesn’t need more money for current operations, thanks to the money from YC and the Indiegogo campaign. He did mention that he could possibly raise in the next little while to help grow and expand the company.
Bluesmart is working on a few distribution deals for its first suitcase, particularly in the airports. According to Saez-Gil, Bluesmart will be creating more connected travel items in the future. It will also be announcing a partnership with a well-known telco to help track the suitcases in more places. Saez-Gil didn’t want to divulge which company that might be just yet.