Jun 29, 2017
Have you heard of smart luggage? It may not sound like something you need but wait until you hear what it can do to make your travel more enjoyable and effortless. Connecting luggage to an app and building out the hardware to integrate the two has enabled Diego Saez-Gil’s company, Bluesmart to jump into a very competitive marketplace and gain a foothold with amazing speed. On this episode of Crossing Borders, Diego shares the story of his entrepreneurial journey, how he’s founded and funded his new smart luggage startup, and how he manages an international team with offices all over the world. It’s a fascinating example of the kind of innovation and forward thinking that’s coming out of Latin America these days.
When Diego and his team were building WeHostels, his first startup, they realized it would be an uphill battle. The space they were entering already had big players like Airbnb and VRBO. But they believed that their unique focus and the unique experience of staying in a hostel would appeal to a certain demographic that could become a loyal niche audience. Turns out they were right. Diego tells me how he got WeHostels off the ground, what led to the sale of the company, and the lessons he learned in building, staffing, and navigating the acquisition, on this episode.
Even though Bluesmart is a relatively new company, Diego Saez-Gil is no stranger to startups. He was co-founder of WeHostel, one of the first hostel-specific apps on the market that enabled users to make reservations on the move. The experience of building that company set him up for the challenges of building a physical product oriented company and the intricacies of leading an international team. On this episode Diego shares how his new smart luggage company Bluesmart was launched via crowdfunding, how additional rounds of support were secured, and the crazy pace at which the company has grown. As you’ll see from this conversation, Diego is a sharp guy who demonstrates why U.S. - Latin America based companies are poised to change the startup world.
You've probably heard of many startup success stories that began with crowdfunding. Diego Saez-Gil’s story is the same, only bigger. His team was able to raise $2.2M in support in their first Indiegogo presales campaign and on this episode Diego shares how his team did it, including their approach to pre-campaign prep and marketing once the campaign was live. If you’re at all interested in the possibility of crowdsourcing your own startup, you should take the time to hear what Diego shared with me on this episode.
Bluesmart is a company with offices in New York, China, and South America, and founder Diego Saez-Gil likes it that way. He says the diversification of the team and the strengths he’s able to draw upon in those varied cultures makes for a company with many facets to its success. He advises U.S. based investors and companies to take a serious look at partnerships in Latin America. In his mind, it’s a trend that is only going to get smarter and smarter as time goes on - sort of like his smart luggage.