Crowdfunding is a great way of raising money for innovative products. But it does have its downsides — namely, for the consumer there is a very long time between purchasing your product and actually receiving it. In some cases — G-RO included — you might lose out.
For a growing list of examples of crowdfunded luggage that has gone wrong check out our crowdfunded scam list.
While many of the smart luggage companies we review here have origins on crowdfunding platforms — unless you are comfortable with the additional risk of crowdfunding — it is always recommended buying products once the creases have been ironed out, and they have a direct store.
For this reason, when looking at our top smart luggage buys, we will only ever recommend products you can purchase directly. It’s convenient, the product arrives quickly, and more importantly — it’s unfair to review or recommend a product that isn’t in production, and we haven’t had a physical review of.
That being said, there are many exciting new smart luggage products being developed on crowdfunding sites right this minute.
Here we’ll take a look at:
- crowdfunding itself
- The most successful crowdfunded smart luggage campaign ever
- G-RO’s downfall
Why kickstarter is popular for new smart luggage
Best described in a Forbes interview with G-RO’s founder:
We have already launched several products through the Kickstarter platform, with phenomenal results, and we have established an amazing community of backers, early adopters, and futurists. We highly value the Kickstarter community and its role in supporting innovation, and we hope that together we can continue to lead the luggage industry with innovation at G-RO.Netta Shalgi — G-RO luggage founder and CEO
Kickstarter, Indiegogo and other crowdfunding websites allow new ideas and different ways of doing things to thrive. Entrepreneurs can find a niche that needs modernising or updating, then appeal directly to consumers. This serves two purposes:
- Crowdfunding bypasses more traditional — and slower — routes of securing finance for a new business
- It proves there is strong consumer demand for the new product, as customers are already committing their money upfront
In the fast-moving smart luggage industry, innovation and user feedback is king, it is no wonder that smaller design companies flock to crowdfunding platforms to get their product to market quickly.
Who were G-RO?
G-RO Luggage was a California-based smart luggage company with several successful kickstarter and indiegogo campaigns. Effortlessly cool and riding on a wave of innovation in the smart luggage sector, G-RO picked up huge attention on crowdfunding sites — becoming the most successful luggage-based company ever.
The luggage industry is an old, traditional industry — the disconnect has become increasingly larger between the real needs of modern travellers and the industry offering.G-RO.com/our-story
Backed by A-listersand celebrities such as Will Smith, Will.I.Am and Mark Ronson G-RO aimed to rely on a combination of slick marketing videos and a signature trend — oversized luggage wheels.
Despite the usual slick advertisements of luggage gliding through effortlessly smooth airport floors, reality is sometimes different!
Billed as “GravityRoll Wheel Technology” these wheels were engineered by the companies industrial designer founder.
The oversized axle-less wheels were designed to offer easier across rougher terrain and were an integral part of the suitcase — attached to the side of the bags frames directly.
In the luggage category at the 2017 Edison Design Awards for innovative products G-RO luggage took first place.
Wheels were guaranteed for life and their three biggest crowdfunding project’s moved from Classic —> Classic 2.0 —> SIX (the luggage you push). All featured the signature wheels and additional kickstarter campaigns for financing.
All G-RO’s luggage were packed with smart tech too. There were bluetooth tiles for tracking, removable batteries for recharging your devices and inbuilt wiring.
How much money did G-RO raise on kickstarter?
No doubt the public has been intrigued by the company’s innovation from the very beginning as G-RO’s first-ever Kickstarter campaign was the most successful crowdfunded campaign in history.Forbes — 2019
Their first campaign was undoubtedly their most successful, with the original design — the G-RO Classic — raising $4.7 million dollars. This is, to date, the most successful campaign ever run on the crowdfunding site.
Founded in 2010, over the decade the company existed they raised over $7 million on kickstarter alone via three successful campaigns.
G-RO’s final suitcase the SIX — during which the company went bust — had already raised over $1.1 million dollars on kickstarter and over $1 million dollars on indiegogo.
What happened to G-RO smart luggage?
As of October 2020, G-RO luggage officially went out of business.
The company G-RO — registered under parent company Travel Light LTD — filed for administration towards the end of development of their sixth smart luggage bag. While some backers managed to secure their products, predominantly European and rest of the world backers are currently without refunds or products.
In June 2020, the companies website disappeared, G-RO stopped responding on their kickstarter and indiegogo pages and it began dawning on people that they wouldn’t receive their G-RO SIX luggage. In the background, Travel Light — the owner of G-RO — began filing for bankruptcy and assigned all their remaining inventory and patents to an auction to be held in November 2020.
Ultimately, the global supply chain issues caused by COVID-19 put the brakes on this company. Continuing with the G-RO SIX kickstarter throughout 2020 became an impossible task.
It’s a shame for several reasons:
- G-RO had already run several successful campaigns with many happy customers
- They were pushing smart luggage to the forefront of the luggage industry, and the G-RO SIX design (luggage you push in front) may have spurred a whole new design style
- Most importantly, it’s a shame that people lost their money, and that’s unfortunately the risk you take when you buy a crowdfunded product.