After two years traveling the globe for shoe brand Aldo, opening stores in foreign markets, Josh Udashkin knew one thing for sure: Suitcases suck. He wasn’t happy lugging around anything, from expensive Rimowas to cheap $100 bags. Where’s the I-gotta-have-it product? he wondered.
He decided to make it. Udashkin quit his gig with Aldo and in 2016 launched Raden, a suitcase brand that sells only one design (though in two sizes and many colors). He bills it as a consumer tech product rather than a travel accessory. “I wanted a product you’d recognize anywhere,” he says. “Those tend to be consumer electronics. Beats, GoPro, Apple Watch -- you know them just by looking at them. That was the aha moment: What can I add, electronically, to create utility?”
The resulting suitcase ($295 for carry-on version, $395 for checked) features a modular battery to charge devices on the go, but its tricks extend well beyond that. It’s equipped with Bluetooth connectivity and syncs with a smartphone app; tug on the handle and the suitcase’s weight will appear on-screen. The app also provides instant access to Raden customer service reps and cuts through the clutter at baggage claim to tell you the exact moment your bag will fly down the carousel.
That last feature, Udashkin admits, isn’t attempting to solve the lost-luggage problem -- yet. “It’s about delighting you,” he says. But the network of connected consumers the brand is creating with its app could have larger implications; already, the company helped two travelers who accidentally took each other’s luggage swap them in real life. “We don’t want to be in the business of setting up meet-cutes for luggage,” Udashkin says, “but there is opportunity to solve problems on the back end.”