1.5 million hours of luggage storage and counting – Interview with LuggageHero CEO Jannik Lawaetz

Jannik-Lawaetz-LuggageHero

Jannik Lawaetz is the Founder and CEO of LuggageHero, a young Danish startup with the goal to make travel more convenient by giving travelers a space to leave their luggage while exploring their destination. Founded in 2016 and present in 30+ locations, LuggageHero has already accumulated more than 1,500,000 hours of stored luggage with no filed claims of damage or loss.

Last week I met Jannik in Copenhagen on the backstage of Tomorrow’s Urban Travel – we made time for a cup of coffee to talk about his entrepreneurial journey with LuggageHero. During our conversation Jannik talked about his transition from an established full-time job in 2016 to be the CEO of a fast growing startup. He shared his thoughts about how the Danish startup ecosystem impacted his business and about their plans for the future. Here is the interview:

For someone who never heard about it – what is LuggageHero?

What we do is that we store luggage in local shops with schedule opening hours – it could be a bike rental shop, a hotel, a cafe, a restaurant… anything! We store the luggage on an hourly basis, which is quite unique because there are not so many places where you can find a service where you only pay for the hours you use. This is pretty unique for us and it is something of a service we want to deliver to our customers.

How did you came up with the business idea for launching your startup?

The idea came from a personal experience I had during a short holiday trip to Barcelona. On the last day of our trip I experienced the pain of actually standing outside my Airbnb apartment at 9am in the morning with 2 pieces of suitcases and I just had no idea where to go! Our flight wasn’t until late afternoon, so I was stuck with it. Then I saw a local shop on a street corner and managed to convince this Spanish guy (with my not-amazing Spanish skills) to actually store our bags during the day. This experience turned out to be my first encounter with a solution to a problem many people face during their holidays, so I went home thinking that it could actually be a good idea.

Is there a recent milestone you are particularly proud of?

Today we are on more than 1000 locations spread out in 30 cities in Europe and the US. We recently achieved the milestone of accumulating more than 1.5 million hours of storage, which is something we are very proud and happy about.

How is LuggageHero funded?

The company was firstly bootstrapped – which was pretty hard. I remember pitching it to my girlfriend on a late evening back in 2016 and thinking: “Oh, I will turn this idea into an app and everything will go as planned.” – I was very naive. I had an established full-time job at the time but once I dived into the idea of LuggageHero I found that I had to step down from my job and dedicated myself fully to this full-time without any payment for 6 months. So I bootstrapped it entirely from the beginning until our expansion to London, where we then got some traction and the inbound investors came to us. In 2017 we got 2 really good business angels to invest in us and in the beginning of this year we were funded by NordicEye, a big VC firm from the Nordics.

You also raised funds through an equity crowdfunding campaign. How was this experience?

It was an extraordinary experience to offer previous customers and partners to actually invest and get equity in LuggageHero. It was a huge success! We actually achieved funding within 24 hours from opening it up in Seedrs.

And are you planning to raise new funds in the near future?

LuggageHero is doing really well. We are heavily expanding and things are going as planned. We are burning money, but in a controlled manner. The plan is to raise additional funds early next year.

Are there books and podcasts that have inspired you in some way and that you would recommend to other entrepreneurs?

Gary Vaynerchuk is someone I really look up to – his thinking really inspires me! At the moment I am listening to one of his audiobooks called “Crush it”, which is really good and inspiring.

What would you say to people who have a great idea, want to startup but don’t know where to start?

I would say: “Stop talking and start doing something”. I hear a lot of excuses from wantrepreneur – sometimes is because they are having kids, they are getting married, they are moving, but they always have an excuse, a reason why they are not starting their own business and stay in jobs they don’t like. So what I would say is for them to cut the bullshit, to go out and do it, to take that step.

Another point for entrepreneurs who are just starting is to make sure to document everything – that’s the most important thing!

How do you see Copenhagen as a tech startup ecosystem and how has it impacted your business?

Based on my experience I think Copenahgen is the best place to start a company. The city is small but really international environment in the city as well as tourists, which is great for a traveltech company. It’s really easy to get around and everyone knows each other, people are very accessible. Having our customers on the backyard and being able to iterate from there was amazing. This scenario made it possible to actually test things while we were developing them in LuggageHero and I could see it live. I could go on the streets and meet my customers – some of the first customers using Luggagehero were people that I convinced on the streets to use it.

It was great to start in Copenhagen and then scaling the business. When I talked to people from the startup ecosystem about our progress with the business they immediately told me “Ok, you have the product and you have proved the concept, now you need to prove the business, you have to show that you can get outside and prove it.” And then we did that by expanding to London.

Where do you see LuggageHero in 3-4 years from now?

It’s really weird just thinking about it because 3 years ago I didn’t even have a product on the back! But in 3 years LuggageHero will certainly be in more cities and will drive more convenience to travel. I decided to solve the global struggle with luggage because I just can’t believe that no company has taken ownership of such a big category even when it’s in everyone’s mind when they travel.

Our vision is to bring convenience to travel, by putting luggage away from travellers and letting them actually belong to their destination. So in 3-4 years we will be closer to achieving it, LuggageHero will be present in more cities and probably even innovated the existing solution – which we are already doing, but we will tell more about that later.

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