Recently, I had a chance to catch the season finale of Shark Tank. I have enjoyed the show for a couple of years. I love the drama that ensues as the sharks begin their attack on an entrepreneur and watching the back and forth dialogue between them.
One service in particular, stood out from the episode that I watched. The company is called LugLess.com. They are a door-to-door luggage shipping service that picks up your luggage from your home, office, or hotel and sends it to wherever you are traveling ahead of time. The major benefits of the service are that travelers can bypass check-in lines, avoid baggage fees, skip baggage claim, and speed up their overall travel experience. The downside is that the service has fees of their own, and their may be an even greater "separation anxiety" when it comes to one's baggage compared to traditional luggage accommodations.
In the balance, I thought it was a pretty smart service, given that airline baggage and ancillary fees will exceed 6 billion dollars in revenue for 2013. I was genuinely surprised that none of the sharks embraced the service and that none of them even placed an offer on the table. I was intrigued to do a little more digging.
The episode that I watched first aired on May 17. I had the 'journalist' urge to reach out to this company and see if I could learn a bit more about the experience and if the company regretted going on the show three months later. I reached out to the founder of the company to be a guest on my show, so I could get some answers.
What I learned from speaking with Brian Altomare, LugLess co-founder and (severely embattled) Shark Tank entrepreneur, was the opposite of what I thought I would find out. He not only was thankful for the shark attack, he hoped "we could get in the tank again and receive even more negative feedback from the sharks." He continued, "having five out of touch billionaires shoot down our idea that average travelers actually could use to save time, money, and hassle when traveling was awesome for us. LugLess didn't win ' most popular' vote that night, but we definitely won the audience vote of 'most likely to bring home to mom and dad' -- and that was what we were going for with our appearance".
I still wanted proof that LugLess' growth from Shark Tank was worth the mauling I witnessed Brian go through as he tried to fight off the beasts. I actually think Brian was sweating at the end of his segment, and I was curious about his take on the whole experience.
Altomare said, "30 days after the show LugLess revenues jumped over 448 percent from the previous month and our customer base jumped to over 300 customers per month. LugLess is currently increasing revenues at over 25 percent per month and we are averaging over 375 customers per month." He continued, "as for the sweating fiasco, I should have never worn a wool coat to California. I was a bit nervous at first how we would come across to the 6 million viewers, but realized after the first 100 calls and emails from viewers that they loved the concept and that they thought the sharks were 'morons' for passing up on our business model. What I learned from the experience is that just because five people in a room think your idea won't survive, doesn't mean it is not worth building. We've been on many TV and radio shows since the shark tank appearance and have yet to be mauled again about our smart alternative to the airline baggage fee model".
The opinion of five billionaires is important when you are considering the development of a new business. But the clear demand for the service after the show has consumers putting their money where you can find their opinions. What are my personal thoughts? I want to wait and see. The service potentially does cost more than using an airline; furthermore the company is so new and in early development, there is this genuine fear that your luggage could disappear if it were to go under while you are in the air. On the other hand, there are many companies that the business establishment has dismissed before getting started. I think of Fred Smith of FedEx who got a flunking grade for a paper he wrote making the case for his future, very successful, package delivery business. It will be interesting to see how the future of this potential disrupter to the luggage delivery business, unfolds.
Kevin Price is publisher and editor in chief of US Daily Review and Host of the Price of Business on 1110 AM KTEK in Houston, Texas. He is the author of Empowerment to the People and has twice received the George Washington Honor Medal in Communications from the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge. His column is nationally syndicated and he is a frequent guest on major media around the country, being found on Fox News, Fox Business, and other networks. For more see KevinPriceCentral.com.