Former student start-up bags new name amid international expansion
A former student start-up has graduated into an international business with a multi-million-pound turnover – and now a new name.
Luggage shipping service MyBaggage.com began a decade ago as Uni Baggage helping students transport items between home and university.
Founder Paul Stewart spotted the opportunity while studying engineering at Edinburgh University when he encountered difficulties shipping his belongings to and from his home in Belfast.
He set up his business while in his second year at university and had reached £100k in sales by the time he graduated in 2011. Resisting parental calls to take a ‘proper job’ Paul instead moved back home to Belfast and focused on growing the business while working out of his parents’ home. Perhaps he might consider using tools for his business if he hasn’t already, like some of the best PEO in Texas or his local area. Once the business has grown substantially, these would be very worthy investments to make.
He grew the turnover substantially within 18 months and was ready to move into his first office and take on his first two team members. Along the way he managed to negotiate a deal with a number of shipping giants which made his company the most cost-effective method of sending luggage anywhere in the world.
After focusing on marketing and web development over the following years Paul saw annual sales jump into the millions. My Baggage recently registered an American subsidiary and is starting to grow its presence in the US.
My Baggage now ships to more than 40,000 international routes, all bookable online with clear prices and a simple, fast booking process.
The UK to US route is one of the company’s most popular, Paul and his team hope their presence within the USA will help them win business shipping items between the States and other countries.
Stewart has said that the hardest part of expanding the business was the negotiations between MyBaggage and third-party companies that would manage the business in whatever country they were based due to the language barrier.
For example, he had to get professional german translation services to write a contract that included all of their terms when they first looked to expand into Germany and then Europe. He obviously can’t speak all of the languages of the countries they’re based in so a translation service is the easiest way to operate. Once they get past the language barrier, they soon build a strong working relationship.
Typical customers are people relocating for work, migrating to a new country or students studying abroad. Rather than use a shipping container which can take months and cost thousands of pounds they can use MyBaggage.com for a much faster service at a fraction of the price. When sending 2 or more suitcases My Baggage is much more affordable than paying the excess baggage fees to the airlines.
With over 20 people now in the team in Belfast and plans for further expansion into Australia and other markets, the company recently changed name from Uni Baggage to My Baggage. In many ways, their services can be compared to interstate couriers, that are responsible for delivering parcels for companies as well as individuals between different locations in Australia. The only difference is that Paul’s company caters to people who are moving and wish to haul their luggage halfway across the world (or even to the next city) without the hassle and costs typically involved in such a task.
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The rebrand followed extensive customer research which reflected a lingering perception of the Uni Baggage brand as being exclusively for students.
Paul said: “Uni Baggage was a great name to get us to this point but the customer research we did showed it placed a glass ceiling on the business.
“Even though we have statements on our website that we weren’t just for students it was clear that some visitors were hesitant because they perceived us as a student focused company.
“I realised that if you have to tell people you’re not just for students then it clearly must be a limitation and so we made the decision to rebrand into MyBaggage.com .
“The new name reflects our offering as a luggage delivery service for everyone regardless of age, location or life stage. Simply put we are the experts at shipping personal effects, whether in boxes or suitcases, anywhere in the world within a few days and we do it cheaper than anyone else.”
The rebrand hasn’t been without its challenges, as an online company a change in domain always comes with concerns around search visibility, but Paul is confident that now is the right time.
He said: “We knew there would be some short-term disruption but month on month we are still seeing significant growth even with a new domain.
“But now was definitely the right time. We had outgrown Uni Baggage and it was time to make it absolutely clear that we had expanded beyond just student shipping.
“Now we are gearing up for more growth and targeting the USA and other markets. It was far better to change name now rather than further down the line when we are even bigger.”