If Marcus Segui's successful 2016 Kickstarter is any indication, people are looking for innovative ways to make traveling a little easier. With that intention in mind, Segui launched Tiko, an Austin-based travel brand shaking up the industry by providing affordable, beautifully designed, quality luggage to passengers across the world.
On November 1, Tiko rolled into the world with its signature carry-on, priced at $195, and designed to fit in overhead bins (a must for those of us who find baggage fees insulting). Available only online, the company's first bag comes with 360-degree spinning wheels, and is offered in charcoal and gray.
For the Texas-born Segui, the idea for his company was born out of one thing: he travels — a lot. After a career in finance in New York, Segui traveled to Colombia, a trip that ended up lasting three years. "I got a Spanish tutor, found an apartment, and started looking for a way to do business," Segui says. "Before long I linked up with a local investment fund who asked me to launch a real estate company for them."
"Running a business in Spanish was really hard," he jokes, and by the time Segui decided to leave Colombia, he had logged countless flights across South and Central America. The UT grad eventually made his way back to Austin with a busted carry-on in tow.
"After my time in New York and South America, I decided to return to Austin for two reasons: friends and family. Every entrepreneur needs to lean on their network to get a new company off the ground," he says.
And oh how that network helped. Unable to find a carry-on replacement that was both durable and affordable, Segui got the idea for a direct-to-consumer luggage company designed to bypass retailers and thus cut the price point for the luggage in half.
Segui began development on a series of prototypes, eventually landed on Tiko's current carry-on model, and decided to launch a Kickstarter to gauge interest (and funds, of course). The campaign raised over $100,000, allowing Segui to take off with the new company.
In order to move the company into its next phase, Segui assembled a who's who team of local tech talent, including former execs from YETI and Airbnb. Earlier this month, the company officially launched its first product from its coworking space headquarters next to Noah Marion Quality Goods on South Lamar Boulevard.
Though its luggage is made for customers worldwide, Segui says the brand's low-key style still very much inspired by Austin. "There’s ... something about Austin’s sense of style that inspires what we are trying to accomplish with Tiko," he says. "Austinites don’t try so hard to look cool, like some other cities. Style here is a whisper, not a shout." Segui says he's embraced Austin's style ethos, as is evident by Tiko's "everything you need and nothing you don’t" motto.
Two weeks into the new endeavor, it remains to be seen if the public will embrace Tiko, but its launch points to a growing trend: consumers are demanding a different travel experience. Suddenly, people are beginning to question the inconvenient, expensive, and yes, unstylish things that must be endured in order to get from one point to another.
Perhaps one day we'll return to that glamorous apex of airline travel, the time where no one wore pajamas and passengers didn't have to line up like cattle to board the aircraft. Until then, at least we can have nice luggage.