DUFL takes baggage claim out of business travels, raises $3M
Video contribution by Austin Paetow
With airlines attempting to shrink the size of carry-ons, business travelers are going to face more checked baggage fees, hassles at the airport and increased concern of airlines losing their luggage.
Tempe-based DUFL, a premium, travel valet service, packs and ships ones’ clothes to a destination.
CEO and founder DUFL, Bill Rinehart, traveled around the world for 20 years for work and became quite familiar with airlines losing his bags and the pack/unpack routine of back-to-back business trips. His mission with DUFL is to ease some headaches for business travelers, starting with their luggage.
“I look at these logistics services available on our smartphones like UBER, Postmates and Washio, and we still travel like it’s 1960.”
The company launched April 30 and raised $2.5 million. Rinehart said they recently closed on a $3 million convertible note led by local and outside private investors.
For those ready to DUFL it, download the app, set up a profile and request a Welcome Kit.
DUFL will send a large suitcase to your home where you’ll add all the clothing items (including your underwear) you want for your virtual closet. Rinehart said there is no limit to ones’ closet size at this time, “One customer has over 40 items of clothing” he said.
Once DUFL receives your clothes, they inventory, clean and photograph the items (sans the underwear) and upload to your profile.
When you are ready to travel, use the app to choose your outfits, schedule the destination and sit back and relax.
Currently, the company ships anywhere in the US. Asia and Europe destinations are projected for service in late 2016.
Standard 3-day shipping is $99 which includes round-trip shipping service and cleaning of your clothes. DUFL is primarily shipped via FedEx and a network of 1,700 carriers around the country are plugged in if needed, Rinehart said.
If you need a rush delivery, it will cost more but they will find a way to get it to you, “We’ve put [a customer’s DUFL] on commercial airliners,” Rinehart said.
Once your trip is complete, simply schedule a pick up through the app and head to the airport; once received, DUFL will re-inventory and clean your clothes.
Currently the suitcases come in three sizes (small to large) and there is no additional charge for size at this time.
What if you are traveling to three cities in a week? Rinehart has two solutions, you can pack a DUFL for the entire trip and take the bag with you to each destination until it’s time to ship it back, or what most customers do, is send a DUFL to each destination to reduce the hassle at the airport, he explained.
“We want people to focus on their business [or] spend time with their family instead of doing laundry,” Rinehart said.
Currently DUFL has an office in Tempe and San Francisco and the virtual closet and warehouse in Phoenix. Rinehart said they plan to add a warehouse on the east coast very soon and in Asia and Europe within the next 12 to 18 months.
Listen up golfers, DUFL will be beta testing their “DUFL Sport,” a service where they ship your golf clubs to your destination. They will eventually cater to more sports such as scuba diving and surfing, Rinehart said.
Also on the horizon, an online store and DUFL Bits, a special gift of the month customers receive in their suitcase during the first trip of the month, Rinehart said.
Reinhart is no stranger to the Arizona tech community. He recently sold his cloud services company Unicorn Media for $49 million to Brightcove and has no intentions of slowing down. “I have no interest in taking time off,” he said.
As for building another company in Arizona, Rinehart said, “We think it’s a great place to create a company with a great employee base and a great place for people to live. I can’t say enough things about Arizona.”
Read more about startups in Arizona at AZ Tech Beat