WICKER PARK — If you spot folks zipping around the airport atop their carry-on suitcases next year, you can thank Wicker Park entrepreneur Kevin O'Donnell, whose Modobags — battery-powered, motorized luggage — are on track to be manufactured.
So he overhauled Modobag's manufacturing and design process with the help of suburban Lake Zurich-based consulting firm, Product Development Technologies, lowered the bag's retail cost from $1,900 to $1,495, and tried again.
As of Wednesday, Modobag's Indiegogo push has raised $172,332 from 180 backers and exceeded its goal with 24 days left in the month-long campaign.
The money O'Donnell has raised will be used on molding and production costs.
Each pre-ordered Modobag costs $995, or a 33 percent discount from the eventual retail cost of $1,495. So far, 101 backers on Indiegogo have bought the bag.
O'Donnell credited Product Development Technologies for helping him to make Modobag's production "more streamlined" and to save money on manufacturing costs.
"We were really lucky to work with them, lucky that they opened their doors to a startup," O'Donnell said, adding, "We are super excited about where we are at."
The Modobag, which meets Federal Aviation Administration guidelines for carry-on luggage, can fit up to a 17-inch laptop and retains 85-percent of the space of a carry-on, O'Donnell said.
O'Donnell, owner of Pint Pub at 1547 N. Milwaukee Ave., got the idea to motorize luggage a few years ago after traveling through airports with members of a local break dancing troupe, Chi Town Breakers, which he sponsors.
The dancers were hopping onto O'Donnell's rollaway suitcase as he was pulling it, which got him to think, "What if you can ride your luggage?"
After partnering with a friend, Boyd "Boydo" Bruner, a competitive motorcyclist, the two got to work on designing the bag.
The bag, which stows on all forms of transportation, such as planes, trains, buses or cars, can travel a maximum speed of 8 miles per hour, almost three times the speed of walking.
A traveler weighing 180 pounds or under can go up to a five miles on one charge, using a lithium battery that takes one hour to fully charge.
The bag also has a built in GPS tracker so users always know where their bag is, along with two USB ports power station to charge phones and laptops.
Weighing just under 20 pounds and made of nylon and aluminum, the Modobag features a thumb throttle, brakes and accelerator. So far it has been tested on over 1,000 people, O'Donnell said.
A tour bus emblazoned with images of folks using Modobag was parked outside of Pint early Wednesday.
A suite of 20 Modobags, the result of dozens of previous design iterations, are being tested through tours and demonstrations. At Schaumburg's Woodfield Mall, over 200 people rode Modobags on a recent weekend and another few hundred went for spins at a travel industry convention in Stockholm, Sweden, O'Donnell said.
"It's a last mile transportation solution," O'Donnell said.