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NEW DELHI : The recovery in travel has refocused attention on the travel and lifestyle segment, as investors look to gain from the growth in new-age companies.

Several new-age brands have raised venture capital in this space, including luggage-maker Mokobara, which is looking to disrupt with new designs and innovative features.

“The way we travel has changed, but the luggage hasn’t evolved for decades, and it’s time to change that. At Mokobara, we have done a lot of industry firsts like—a 30-day trial on all our products and luggage with smart features like USB charging and constant engagement with our consumers, which have given us an edge that our competition lacks," said Sangeet Agarwal, founder of Mokobara.

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Manu Chandra, founder of Sauce.VC, which invested in Mokobara in 2020, said the return of leisure and corporate travel is a huge tailwind. Airports and airlines are crowded, and hotels are at full occupancy, even without full resumption of international travel to and from India. Moreover, bags are also seeing huge demand, with the opening of offices and colleges.

According to Agarwal, the funding surge in this category is natural and will sustain since direct-to-consumer is a great starting point, but new-age brands will have to be omnichannel eventually.

The two-year-old company is planning an offline retail expansion with experience centres. The industry supply chain is complex, and a luggage business cannot be built in a short time, Agarwal said. “One needs to have a long-term vision combined with a strong back end, distribution strategy and expertise in brand building to create a dent," Agarwal added.

The luggage space in India has stiff competition; VIP and Safari are present in the value range, while Mokobara is priced between them and the costlier Samsonite.

“Samsonite targets a corporate traveller with its black, grey and beige-dominant palate. Mokobara is unique in its very youthful and international designs with extremely high-quality components on a par with luxury brands like Away, Rimowa or Tumi, but priced well below Samsonite," an investor in the space said on condition of anonymity.

Luggage-maker Acefour Accessories, which has raised $7 million from Sixth Sense Ventures and Volrado Venture Partners, aims to woo consumers with many industry-first features.

“Our products have many USPs like rainproof zippers, 3X more water resistance material, and premium recycled fabric with quality so good our backpacks can stand even when unstuffed," said Sudip Ghose, founder of Acefour.

Ghose said that though Acefour is at the pre-revenue stage, it has raised capital, as funds look at three things: “One, proposition; two, product; and three, the team. Our products have cutting-edge designs that stand out in terms of looks and features. Lastly, we have a team of highly dedicated professionals who understand the category, the consumer, and business nuances very well," he said.

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