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THE BAMBOO

CARRY-ON
Our Story

My Life In A Suitcase
Building suitcases has been a decade long dream in order to look for a job. A moment of weakness
of mine. It all started when I walked into a that was quickly obliterated when my wife heard of
suitcase shop and realised I basically had three my plan. “Christian are you kidding me? For years
choices: cheap and ugly, overpriced and ordinary you have been talking about your suitcases hoping
or designer branded and unaffordable. I couldn’t that one of your ventures cashes out enough so you
understand why something we used so frequently can build a factory. Obviously things haven’t gone
had to be so ordinary. Wasn’t it possible to build as planned but that doesn’t mean you should give
a suitcase that was both functional and beautiful? up on your dream. Why don’t you just start and let
At the time it felt like an obvious question, but in us see where it takes us. Of course it’s a risk but if
reality, it would take me ten years, a mental illness, we are going to go bust, it might as well be for your
two companies and a failure so brutal that my wife dream and not for a job!”.
and I lost everything, to find the answer.
Two weeks later we were both in the car heading to
The adventure of Corvin started in November of last Provence to meet with Thibault, a talented young
year when I came home after a tough professional industrial designer and I would promise myself
setback and for the first time in years started that I would do everything physically possible to
considering leaving entrepreneurship behind me make my wife proud.
Our Story

T
he year I turned 28 years
old was an important
year for me. It was the
year I would achieve
my wildest professional
dreams, only to realise
that money could help
me acquire comfort but
it couldn’t buy me meaning. It was the year I
walked into a suitcase shop looking for a new
carry-on but instead found a destiny. It was
the year I packed up my things at work, went
to the nearest emergency room and found out
I was suffering from bipolar disorder. It was
the year my mental illness would cost me my
career in the hedge fund industry but would
help me become an entrepreneur.

Going crazy was probably the best thing that


has ever happened to me. Living in a world
of extremes (mania and depression) can be a
challenge at times but it has also become my
biggest gift when it came to entrepreneurship.
It would give me an entirely different per-
spective to solving problems, an incredible
source of creativity and a profound empathy
for misunderstood talents whom others saw
as flawed because they didn’t fit into a box.

After losing my job at a leading Swiss Fund


of Hedge Funds, after naively disclosing my
illness to my boss, I would go through a soul
searching couple of months with an impor-
tant choice to make. I could either spend my

Going Crazy days popping ‘crazy pills’ at home feeling sorry


for myself or I could try and find myself by build-
ing my first company. Building suitcases was of
When going mentally insane helped me find course the obvious choice, but I was too scared to
my way as an entrepreneur. take on a venture of that proportion. I didn’t have
the experience nor the funds to build a luggage
factory and so instead, I built a precious metals
trading platform. My plan was to make enough
money from this venture to then build my suit-
cases. Ten years later I was still searching for my
Golden Goose, when my wife finally had enough
of my procrastination and subtly pushed me into
the deep end of the pool. Ironically we had less
funds than I had then, I still didn’t have any man-
ufacturing experience but I had my wife and to-
gether we had nothing left to lose.
Our Story

Meeting Thibault
“It has to be made of bamboo and aluminium, The Corvin Carry-On was designed in a record-
it can’t have any plastic and it can’t look like any breaking three months, where we probably broke
other suitcase”, these were the indications Thibault, every rule in the book of ‘normal procedure’.
a talented young industrial designer got from Thibault was going nuts at times when I called
me when we first spoke on the phone. It was an him at 11 pm with ‘another idea’ but what kept
impossible description I had given to a dozen other us on track was his philosophy of ‘honest design’.
industrial designers, most of which thought I was Everything had to have a function, and if it didn’t,
completely insane. we stripped it. We focused on maximising a few
key features: the handle, the wheels, volume, weight
It takes a specific kind of mind to be patient enough and robustness, but for everything else we let our
to work with me and I immediately knew Thibault creativity take over.
was that person. “Wow, sounds absolutely crazy,
extremely challenging but I think very doable!”. From there, our story began and in March of 2018
Thibault’s talent wasn’t only in being incredibly our baby was born. I was the Dad, that got to do all
creative, but it was in transforming insane, the ‘fun’ stuff and Thibault was the one stuck with
unrealistic delusions into something realistic, the morning sickness, months of discomfort and
functional and authentic. the painful contractions just before delivery.
THE CORVIN CARRY-ON

A bamboo hard case, an aluminium


chassis, a single handle that allows
you to pick-up, open and pull your
carry-on. A suitcase that blends
functionality and beauty into an
iconic minimalistic design.
Second Chances

A
t the age of nine, I was sent
to a juvenile delinquent
school for three years.
Sharing a home with chil-
dren whose parents were
prostitutes and heroin
addicts was an incredible
life lesson, as well as a fast
track to a street-smart education. This experience
would not only be the best three years of my child-
hood, but it would impact me for every decision I
would make in life.

The power of second chances is probably the most


important lesson I took away from this school. It is
something I have integrated in everything I do and
how I deal with my most challenging setbacks. It is
what pushed me to become an entrepreneur, not
because I wanted to disrupt the suitcase industry,
but because I wanted to build a finishing school
for juvenile delinquents. Building suitcases was
just my means to get there and the perfect training
ground to test out my unconventional approach to
building future leaders.

I believe every person should try and find one phi-


losophy they want to leave behind as a legacy. In
my case it is the power of second chances. It means
betting on the underdog, appreciating passion
over experience, eccentricity over normality and
respecting the gift of failure. Am I saying everyone
deserves a second chance? Of course not. I am sim-
ply implying, that from time to time giving some-
one that inspires you a chance, can be a lot more

Tough Love
rewarding than betting on the obvious talent.

The one thing that has differentiated me from most


of the juvenile delinquents who ended up in trou-
ble or in mindless jobs, was the belief others put in How the Corvin
me and a chance to prove myself. An incredible philosophy came into
gift that brings the best out in a person and one existence at a juvenile
I feel obligated to pay forward in both the team delinquent school
members I choose, and the life choices I make.
Second Chances

A Team
Like No
Other
Experience may make you
more efficient but passion
changes the world

A
successful entrepreneur her calling in photography and originally joined
once told me: “get the the team as our video and backstage storyteller.
right people on the bus
and figure out later where She was the discrete girl behind the lens, capturing
they sit” an incredibly val- all the key moments, but every time we stumbled
uable philosophy I wished on a major issue, she would put down the camera
more companies would and come up with a ground-breaking solution. It
apply. We tend to hire ac- turned out Mathilde was a natural when it came
cording to experience and track record whereas to prototyping. It was a gift she developed from
I prefer to hire based on passion, creativity and years of helping her father in his workshop as a
drive. Experience is valuable if you are trying to little girl, and a passion so valuable we ended up
build something already in existence, passion is replacing our professional prototyper with her.
what you need if you want to break new ground.
My job in building the Corvin Team was to artic-
This approach brought together eight extraor- ulate a clear vision, energise everyone with abun-
dinary individuals who may have never built a dant enthusiasm, teach them how to dream and
suitcase in their life but would build what I con- then get out of their way. Passion and our shared
sider, the most beautiful carry-on in the world. love for building something beautiful, would take
The best example of this approach was proba- care of the rest and everyone would find their nat-
bly Mathilde. An industrial designer who found ural role on the team.
Second Chances

How We Build
“Christian the truth is, you are not a priority to us”. After liquidating cardessential I needed to take
Words that still make me cringe when I think of a break from entrepreneurship to rebuild my
them today, as they cost me my second company, confidence and spent the following three years
all of our savings and my self-confidence as an studying and working with companies on my biggest
entrepreneur . insecurity: failure. It would be a valuable experience
where I interviewed over 50 of Switzerland’s CEOs
Cardessential, my second company, was a venture and Board Members on the topic of failure and
I had set up in partnership with one of the worked with a number of multi-national companies
largest card producers in Switzerland. A major as an ‘expert’ on the topic. I called my consultancy:
manufacturer that would end up defaulting on us Too Crazy To Fail.
after misrepresenting their production capabilities.
A very painful lesson The most important
on manufacturing, lesson I learned from
but one that would my experience with
serve me when I Too Crazy To Fail,
was searching for is that Vision and
the best production “Losability” were the
model for Corvin. two most underrated
factors to ensuring
Manufacturing is the success of a
a major challenge company. Losability
for any start-up, is a term I came up
and in our case, we with to define the
had three possible opportunity cost an
solutions. We could employee experienced
either build our when resigning
suitcases in-house from their job. In
and incur significant up-front costs requiring a other words, all the things we leave behind when
substantial amount of start-up capital. We could we switch companies (salary, benefits, work
find a large producer in the USA or Europe and environment, flexibility, colleagues etc.). Offering
accept to be ‘last in line’ when it came to getting more losability than the competition was therefore
our products. Or, we could do what most small essential and could either be done through financial
companies do, outsource our production to China. compensation (which is what most companies do)
The only option that made any sense to me was or by being creative. Given my contrarian nature
to keep as much of our production in-house as and my passion for second chances, I decided the
possible. The question, however, remained: how best way to solve my challenge of wanting to keep
could we achieve this and still remain competitive? our manufacturing in-house was to be creative.
Second Chances

Losability
This is where the story comes full circle and where In other words, my management will be composed
I may lose some of you, as you conclude I am either of proven entrepreneurs, and my manufacturing
completely nuts, very naive or both. team of forgotten members of society most
companies deem ‘too risky’ to hire. From the
Corvin will be on the one hand a platform for homeless to juvenile delinquents, to ex-convicts
talented entrepreneurs that are looking for an and addicts, I firmly believe that offering these
environment that offers them independence, individuals an opportunity will be the secret to
flexibility and a world of creative opportunities. On our success. It will of course require time, patience
the other hand, it will be an ‘accelerator program’ and a support system, but it will also maximise our
for those who have fallen between the cracks, have productivity by giving them the one thing nobody
been unlucky in life or need a second chance. else will. A second chance.
MADE OF BAMBOO

Offering a unique combination of


strength, flexibility and weight,
Bamboo is ideal for absorbing
shocks and a noble equivalent to
leather at only half the weight.
Build With Us

Every company I have ever built was based on a detailed and lengthy business plan.
A strategy that has never really worked out for me because of Mike Tyson’s astute
observation that: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”.

Corvin is the first venture I ever set up without a formal business plan and started it
solely on the basis of a decade long passion. Given how spontaneously we decided
with Claudia to get started on the suitcases, there was simply no time to open Excel
and start calculating projections.

Now that we have completed our prototype, things have formalised a bit more as
we prepare to go into mass production. To this end, we are welcoming any partners,
friends and future colleagues who would like to help us in this journey and look
forward to bringing a bit of eccentricity to the suitcase industry.
Build With Us

Partners Investors
Similar to Tesla Motors, we are looking to If you would like to support us as an investor,
finance the manufacturing of our suitcases we are currently preparing for our Series (A)
through pre-orders. To this end, we have setup round which we hope to complete by July 2018.
a partner’s program, that offers companies The project has been self-funded until now
a customised “limited series” with their own and the capital raise will allow us to finance the
branding. In addition the first partners that required tooling, moldings and equipment to
order over 500 pieces, will receive a five year commence full-scale production. Our target is
revenue share on our total sales as a thank you to raise a total of $3M with our manufacturing
for their early on support. headquarters based in North America.

Orders Team Mates


If you would like to support us with a pre-order For the eccentric entrepreneurs or the
of your own Corvin Carry-On, please feel free manufacturing experts that would like to
to visit our Kickstarter page. Our campaign support us on our journey, please get in touch.
will end on May 4th 2018 and you may find We may not be able to afford you right now
the link directly on our website: as an early stage start-up, but we would love
to get to know you. The future can evolve
very quickly and if there is one thing we have
learned with Corvin, it’s that we always want
www.corvintravel.com. to meet passionate talents.
For More Information
Corvin Travel GmbH
Schaffhauserstrasse 550
8052 Zurich
Switzerland

www.corvintravel.com

Christian Wehbe
E: c@corvintravel.com

For More Information