By: James Nieman
Those are the words of Josh Udashkin, the CEO and founder of luggage company Raden, and although it may feel weird to group luggage and Apple in the same sentence, that’s exactly what he wants you to do.
So, when it came to designing his own product, Udashkin picked Kenneth Sweets, the principal designer behind the Apple-owned Beats Electronics (formerly Beats by Dre) as the man for the job. The result of that collaboration was a beautifully designed suitcase that’s boldly minimalistic. Unlike most of the antiquated luggage industry, it doesn’t feature any unnecessary zippers or awkward and clunky compartments. Instead, it’s fearlessly simple. It’s iconic.
But Apple is not Udashkin’s only inspiration, and if you take a closer look at the other brands that he has modeled Raden off of—Dollar Shave Club, Casper, FitBit, Everlane, and Dyson—a common theme begins to emerge.
After living out of a suitcase himself, Udashkin noticed that the luggage industry was one of the few remaining categories where industrial design and technology had not yet been married, and thus the inspiring idea of Raden was born. A “smart” bag that could pair technology with design to offer a delightful consumer experience for the plugged-in passenger.
Like Warby Parker and TOM’s, Raden subscribes to the direct-to-consumer business model, using technology to cut out the middleman. This has allowed them to sell premium suitcases at an affordable price. Everything from the wheels to the case screams luxury—yet the Raden suitcases range from $295 to $395.
And like many of the aforementioned brands, Raden thinks “Big Brand.” They know that every single brand touchpoint is an opportunity to create a positive interaction with the consumer and therefore design each of those touchpoints in ways that enhance the overall user experience.
For example, Raden suitcases arrive at your doorstep in a bag that also acts as a laundry bag, offering their passionate consumer base with the option of separating their dirty and clean clothes while traveling. Inside the suitcase, you’ll find a sleeping mask and headphones.
It’s these type of small iconic actions that really help to dramatize their brand. It’s what takes normal consumers and turns them into brand devotees. It’s what propels companies like Dollar Shave Club to billion-dollar evaluations. And it’s what makes Raden our Inspiring Action Brand of the Week.
But the package design is just the beginning. Both products—the A22 Carry and the A28 Check—feature built-in chargers, solving the pain of having to survey a packed gate for an outlet to become available or, worse, having a dead phone and/or tablet on a long flight. With the Raden, you can charge your devices anywhere.
The handle at the top of the suitcase doubles as a weight sensor so that customers can travel worry-free of last-minute overage fees, which, if you’ve never been forced to incur, tend to be ridiculous.
To activate the integrated scale, you’ll have to download their app.
App? Yes. Raden’s mobile aspect is where it truly solidifies itself as the leader in travel tech.
The app, which is free, contains a plethora of features that are designed to rid the consumer of any traveling woes. There’s a location awareness feature so that you know exactly where your bag is at all times. Now, instead of waiting around at the baggage claim for 15 minutes, you can go and grab a coffee and relax until you’re notified that your Raden is arriving.
The app also lets you know the weather and status of your flight, the closest route to the airport, and the length of the security line. And, like everything else Raden, it’s designed with the consumer in mind. Easy to navigate and crafted for a delightful user experience.
In its first four months, Raden sold $2 million worth of suitcases—and it hasn’t showed any signs of slowing down.
Speaking of the lucrative opportunity the $40 billion luggage industry presented, Udashkin said, “Younger people don’t have an affinity to a particular luggage brand.”
If Raden continues to follow the 10 Signs of an Inspiring Action Company and keep the user experience front and center, that’s going to change. And change fast.