Traveling is always fun, and there are new technologies that maximize the experience. This includes Trunkster, a smart suitcase with a built-in GPS, digital scale, and charging station. Founders Gaston Blanchet and Jesse Potash got a deal with Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner on Shark Tank. As of 2023, Trunkster is worth $0 and appears to be longer in business.
The Founders’ Story
Jesse Potash is from New York but not much is known about his early life. His partner, however, is different. Gaston Blanchet is originally from Argentina but immigrated to Miami to seek new opportunities.
After getting a degree in management from the UCF College of Business in 2008, Gaston traveled around the world to pursue higher education at various institutions. While studying, he worked as an instructor at the Berlitz Corporation and was a sales intern at Walt Disney World.
Creating the Ultimate Smart Suitcase
Blanchet made a lot of friends on his travels, and one of them happened to be Jesse. In 2014, the two entrepreneurs decided to work together to revolutionize travel by starting Trunkster.
They developed two luggage designs: “Carry-On” for plane boarding and “Checked” for checking in at counters. Both didn’t have zippers as they implemented a roll-top model like garage doors. The product also incorporated removable batteries, USB ports, GPS, and a scale.
In 2015, the founders started crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, which raised $3 million. They also won Shopify’s Build-A-Business Competition that year. This helped Trunkster get $1.5 million in pre-orders.
Trunkster’s Shark Tank Pitch
While working on production, Gaston Blanchet and Jesse Potash thought they needed to raise more money for growth and product development. They entered the Tank in season seven, ready to give up 5% of their startup for $1.4 million.
The suitcase’s material was made of aircraft-grade aluminum to render it unbreakable. This aspect of the product impressed the Sharks. However, Kevin O’Leary couldn’t help but laugh at their crazy $28 million valuation. They tried to justify the valuation with a “cool” backstory but the Sharks weren’t buying it.
Kevin went on to offer $1.4 million for 37%, but the founders declined. Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner offered $1.4 million for 15%. After discussing, Jesse and Gaston countered with $1.4 million for 5%. The equity would double if they didn’t recoup $1.4 million in 24 months, and offered a $1 royalty. Mark and Lori quickly accepted the deal as it reduced their risk.
After Shark Tank – Failed Due Diligence and Production Issues
After Shark Tank, the company failed to get past the due diligence stage and as a result, the deal with Mark and Lori didn’t close.
Moreover, Jesse and Gaston’s team failed to fulfill most of the pre-orders that were supposed to be shipped out in 2016. Plus, some people who received their Trunkster luggage claimed the product didn’t match the prototype in terms of style and overall quality. Recent comments on their Kickstarter campaign are angry customers demanding a refund.
Several customers have discussed bringing a class-action lawsuit against the firm, which is currently out of business. Their website is still operational but it only displays a picture of the product. Jesse Potash has kept a low profile since appearing on the show, Gaston Blanchet is currently the co-founder and CMO of StoryPod – a “magical” storytelling speaker for kids.