Indira Nunez, Ernesto Ramos and Adena Green, three Florida International University students who travel internationally, have all experienced this problem, and perhaps you have too: You’re at the airport and you face the choice of pulling things out of your bag or face hefty excess baggage fees because you weren’t able to weigh your bags properly while packing them.
While airlines rake in billions in baggage fees, it’s coming from our wallets. This team of students has a solution — a company they would call Weighted Luggage — and they took third place in the 2021 Miami Herald Pitch Competition FIU Track for their idea, pitch deck and strategy.
As they envisioned their signature product in their business plan course, their luggage would have a built-in scale that would also let travelers know on an LCD screen how much weight is still available while packing. The luggage fits the travel-size requirements and would be produced with high-quality materials to withstand the wear and tear of frequent travel. Their smart suitcase would also be equipped with a phone charger, a tracking device, an embedded QR code link with contact information and an accompanying app that would not only show you tracking information but could give you hotel, restaurant and activity recommendations for your destination.
“We wanted to improve on what was already on the market,” said Green, who is from the island of Dominica and is majoring in biology but seeking a certificate in entrepreneurship at FIU. “We wanted to make something more cutting edge, with more features.”
Their marketing plan calls for tackling the Florida market first, and then expanding to business travelers and tourists through social media and influencer marketing, airport advertisements and fliers at bus and train stations. The team of three are now looking into what it would take to build a prototype for their luggage, said Green.
On the Weighted Luggage team, Green would head marketing. Nunez would be the team’s chief financial officer; she is pursuing a bachelor’s in business, double majoring in management and real estate, while working as a financial analyst for a real estate fund. Ramos, who would oversee strategy and business development on the team, has eight years’ experience in logistics management and seven years in the U.S. Army. He’s completing a bachelor’s degree in business administration in human resources management with a certificate in entrepreneurship.
Whether or not they continue with Weighted Luggage, the students learned valuable entrepreneurship skills in the class, gathering many tips and resources for starting businesses. “I was always encouraged to grow up as well-rounded as I possibly could be, and if I want to open a business myself one day, I will have that knowledge,” Green said.
Her top tip: “I learned business is about what the people want to buy, and not what you want to sell.”