Passenger Baggage Xpress is an ARK Challenge Alum. Founded by Brandon and Michael Eason in 2011, the Little Rock-based company has steadily moved forward in spite of a few setbacks. They have won the respect and admiration among fellow startups and entrepreneurs in Arkansas including winning a G60 Pitch contest.
Recently, TB&P’s Todd Jones caught up with Michael Eason, the President and CEO, to ask a few questions about the company.
TB&P: What is the problem you are solving?
Michael Eason: At PBX, we solve the lost luggage problem in the airline industry. We prevent luggage from going to the auction block. Every year, over 25 million passengers will experience the pain and frustration of their luggage being lost and or delayed by an airline. It’s not a matter of if it will ever happen to a passenger, it’s a matter of when.
PBX’s permanent luggage tag acts as a tool to facilitate communication between you and your airline. If your airline-issued tag is damaged, unrecognizable, or missing altogether, the permanent PBX luggage tag kicks in. Using airline’s existing software, PBX tag numbers can be substituted in the recovery system giving you real time, baggage alerts. Baggage alerts delivered to your mobile device by PBX will contain airline direct contact information needed to recover your lost luggage.
TB&P: What was the ultimate “milestone” moment for PBX?
Eason: The ultimate milestone was connecting to World Tracer, the luggage recovery system used by 450 airlines worldwide. The World Tracer contract solidified us as the only permanent supplemental luggage tag in the U.S. Receiving that contract, we have been able to launch PBX successfully. We are currently launched in Northwest Arkansas Regional airport, Expressway Valet Parking at the Bill and Hillary Clinton Airport in Little Rock, and we are preparing to launch in Mobile, Alabama by end of September.
TB&P: What challenges did you have and what did you learn?
Eason: The biggest challenge was launching our product with little to no funding. We participated in the Ark Challenge II and we were not a top three company selected for the grand prize. The grand prize was a significant amount of angel round funding that was intended to launch a company. We strived to become investment worthy founders from that point forward.
We stated, “If you receive funding, no matter the amount, you have an obligation to pay that investor back by at least giving the opportunity to present your product to customers. If you take investment and the investors never get to see your product to market, then you should not consider yourself as a startup founder and more of a salesman. You sold investors your presentation, but every slide had a hidden agenda; to get their money.”
We received funding and now are preparing to launch our second airport in a different state. It will expose us to a market of over 3 million passengers a year. Our ultimate goal is to raise a decent angel round of funding that can launch us in major hubs. So, investors that are looking to invest in a product that can be sold to 3 billion passengers worldwide, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TB&P: What is the status of Passenger Baggage Xpress right now?
Eason: PBX is growing and we are learning our customers. We are working to recruit Angel funding so we can launch into other airports. We use to make “cold calls” attempting to gain interest in our product. Now airports are calling us to have our product in their airport. I would say PBX is in a great position.
TB&P: Where do you hope to be in the next five years?
Eason: In five years, we hope to cover 5% of the U.S. travel industry. We would love to have 40 million passengers with PBX memberships and tags on their luggage. Always remember that losing luggage is very stressful and painful. It’s not a matter of if it will ever happen to you, it’s a matter of when. Be prepared, and travel with PBX, the smart way.