After years of travelling, locally and abroad, jetsetter, Amanda Hamilton-Attwell, came up with an idea for a luggage rental service. She toyed with the idea for the next 14 years. It wasn’t until she partnered up with Wimpie van Olst, a model designer, that the idea for Luggage Library was founded. The online service that allows travelers to rent stylish luggage – which is delivered to the users door and picked up thereafter.
This is not the first venture for either of the pair. Hamilton-Attwell (pictured below) runs a research and auditing company called Business DNA, and van Olst designs and builds prototype models for new buildings.
The business woman shares the story behind this unique startup.
Startup founder, Amanda Hamilton-Attwell.
Storing suitcases takes up valuable cupboard space, and my friends knew I had suitcases and always asked to borrow mine as I bought stylish suitcases.
Internationally there is a trend of co-utilising and suitcases should be one of these things that several people can use together. Examples of co-utilisation is the trailer rentals, rental cars, rental equipment and even rental bicycles in cities like New York and Chicago.
“It takes a special kind of person to create a business out of nothing”
Creating an awareness and opportunities for our service, which is new to the market, has been one of our biggest hurdles so far. The second and third hurdle go hand-in-hand – marketing and finance. You need to market your service but for that you need money. I find it extremely interesting that there are several organisations and financial institutions that advertise themselves as supporters of small business – but the moment you approach them, their rules make it impossible for any real startup to get funds, be it a loan or a grant, from them.
This startup is completely bootstrapped. I am financing Luggage Library from my other business, which is why we are not growing at the pace I envisaged.
Despite what is said by people from podiums, South Africa is not user-friendly for entrepreneurs. On the one hand there is not enough mentors to guide young people to develop their entrepreneurial skills, and on the other hand it is difficult to get funding to develop business ideas. It is also very important that not every person is an entrepreneur – it takes a special kind of person to create a business out of nothing.
“Stick to your idea, keep looking for ways to make it work”
Luggage Library is 100% built on e-commerce. The systems are there, but I get the feeling that people are still reluctant to engage with a business online.
In the next two years we are going to really make a breakthrough and grow out of our baby shoes. We are gaining visibility though celebrity sponsorships and our marketing campaign is gaining momentum by means of advertising in up-market publications like Foreign Guide and linking to travel agencies.
My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to not get discouraged, stick to your idea, keep looking for ways to make it work – and see the future.
One thing I wish I knew when I started out was that not all the people that show support, will support you. Go on your own and get things done. To have meetings with people that want to be involved, wastes time and more often that not they are not there to do the work, just because they think it will be glamorous.