Remember G-RO, maker of the innovative Classic Carry-On suitcase that raised $4.7 million in a crowdfunding campaign, won a gold medal at the 2017 Edison Awards, and drew investors such as Will Smith, will.i.am, Mark Ronson and Guy Oseary?
Well, now the Israeli industrial designers who reinvented the suitcase are running their third Kickstarter campaign, this time to introduce The SIX — a six-wheel carry-on collection with a narrow profile meant for easier maneuvering in airplane aisles.
The coolest innovation about The SIX is ergonomic: You don’t lug it behind you, but push it like a stroller or grocery cart. Your bodyweight acts as a counterbalance allowing for zero additional energy to be exerted while rolling the bag.
The back end rolls on two of G-RO’s large-diameter, axle-less GravityRoll wheels, while the front rests on two sets of unique guaranteed-for-life silent spinner wheels.
The bag boasts a patent-pending split handle for easier handling, and a lowered bottom and recessed handles and wheels to maximize interior packing space.
When we spoke to G-RO founder and lead designer Netta Dor Shalgi, he set us straight on the pronunciation of the brand name: it’s not “grow” but “gee-ro” with the “G” for gravity and the “Ro” for rolling, “the two things that everyone struggles with when it comes to luggage.”
Actually, we shouldn’t use the word “luggage” to describe The SIX because it aims to banish lugging altogether.
Aside from pushing vs. pulling, the other innovation is obvious from the name of this carry-on bag: It has six wheels.
“The SIX is a gamechanger for our company,” Shalgi says.
Since launching its first two-wheeled product in 2016, G-RO saw that travelers overwhelmingly have switched to four-wheeled carry-ons. So, while G-RO two-wheel models remained popular with professional travelers such as flight crews and flight attendants, it was losing everybody else. And why do four wheels when you can do six?
“We will keep the two-wheel line as a professional line, but six wheels gives us the opportunity for a broader audience and it promotes the message that we are offering the push configuration,” says Shalgi. “We feel that once you start using it you will never be able to go back.”
While they were at it, the design crew in G-RO’s Tel Aviv office also made The SIX a hard-shell rather than soft-side carry-on.
“The airline requirements for carry-on suitcases make design a constant struggle in terms of durability, weight, internal capacity and external dimensions. It’s a very tight equation,” Shalgi explains.
“The hard shell accommodates them all because it gives a solid form. In the American market, bags aren’t weighed but they’re measured, so the hard shell makes a self-compressing bag and if you overpack it won’t look like it’s bulging.”
The SIX, manufactured of materials including virgin polycarbonate, aluminum and magnesium, measures 22” x 14” x 9” — the maximum carry-on size permitted by most airlines. It’s expected to ship by December 2019. Those who participate in the Kickstarter campaign can pre-order it for $345; the bags will cost 30-40% more afterward.
Shalgi says the not-yet-profitable startup continued with its Kickstarter approach because “We are dealing with very different products that are not always immediately accepted by the market. Going to crowdfunding, where the population is early adopters, is the easiest path to reach those looking for this kind of innovation. Also, it allows us to manufacture only what we already sold on pre-order so we’re not creating a whole production line of products before knowing if they will get accepted by the market.”
G-RO has a Los Angeles headquarters for marketing, sales and customer support, while its Tel Aviv office opened in 2010 “is the heart and soul of G-RO,” says Shalgi.
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