Innovative travel products succeed & fail

Late in 2015, I wrote about three different travel products that had launched crowdfunding campaigns in their efforts to bring the products to market. One has reached the production stage, a second is also in production but with substantial modifications while a third has died from lack of interest.

In production

In an effort to help travelers make the most of limited space in their luggage, an Italian design company developed a prototype of a convertible travel shoe. Called “Shooz,” they offer uppers that use a zipper to fasten the uppers to the soles. The design enables travelers to carry several different shoe styles because the detachable uppers flatten out for more efficient packing than conventional shoes.

Photo provided by Shooz
The company’s Kickstarter campaign drew the support of nearly 400 backers who pledged more than £60,000 for the project. The shoes are currently in production, though delivery has been delayed as the manufacturer miscalculated the length of the zippers, which is different for every size of shoe. Comments from backers on the Kickstarter website are generally positive, along the lines of, “We’re patient; take the time you need to get it right.”

Shooz should be in the hands of, and on the feet of, its backers -= and available to the general public - shortly.

A second product, Andiamo iQ luggage, is in production but with substantial modifications to its most innovative proposed features.

The 100 percent polycarbonate case with a lightweight aluminum frame was envisioned “as an integrated technology platform that accompanies your luggage,” according to company marketing materials.

Photo provided by Andiamo iQ
It was to include its own Wi-Fi hotspot, a built-in scale to help avoid overweight charges, a mobile power pack for charging the plethora of devices we now carry and an anti-theft distance alert that sends a text message if the luggage moves 30 meters (approximately 98.4 feet) away from you. The anti-theft device would also have sent an alert as the luggage was coming toward its owner on the ramp. Finally, the case includes TSA-approved locks and 360-degree, silent spinner wheels.

As a long-time fan of Andiamo luggage, I was impressed and jumped on the crowdfunding bandwagon.

While I was hardly alone, the product didn’t generate the robust following the manufacturer had hoped; 117 backers pledged a bit more than half of the company’s “flexible goal” of $50,000. It became clear that the public support for such a high-tech platform just wasn’t there and, in early June, the company let backers know the plug had been pulled.

“We developed Andiamo iQ to maximize packing capacity with modular technology of connectivity and a mobile WiFi hotspot,” backers were told in an email. “We just didn’t get the orders that we expected in order to justify moving forward with the project [and] have made the decision to end final production of iQ Smart Luggage (as originally developed).”

The company is moving forward with the luggage without the technology, which is what made it so appealing to me.

Importantly, it is developing the stripped-down case without spending any of the money raised through the crowdfunding campaign. "All our efforts and production have been supported by equity dollars," the company added.

Died on the vine

Photo provided by Modobag
A third proposed product - a motorized suitcase that could carry a rider - failed to get enough support to move forward.

Called the Modobag, it was being billed as “[T]he world's first motorized, smart and connected carry-on.”

In addition to two USB ports to charge phones and portable electronic devices and companion iOS and Android GPS navigation apps to track the location of Modobag anywhere in the world, the bag was to have a lithium battery-powered electric motor capable of propelling the bag at up to eight miles an hour.

All that innovation and excitement would not have come cheap; the initial estimated retail price for the Modobag was $1,899.

Backers only pledged a bit more than $21,000 of the $160,000 needed, so the campaign ended without the Modobag entering production.

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