Stefan Holwe interview Founder & CEO of Horizn Studios

About HORIZN STUDIOS and more here at facebook and instagram. You'll find the studio also on youtube.


1. Who stand behind HORIZN Studios? Which backgrounds do you have? Behind Horizn is an international team of technology developers, engineers, designers, and internet and marketing experts. My partner Jan Roosen and I lead the company, which has been growing tremendously since 2015. Jan is a Cambridge alumni and worked as a consultant before he led the business strategy of a leading fashion house. I studied economics and marketing in the USA and have founded two agencies, both of which are now a part of IBM.
The idea for Horizn was born while travelling. We noticed that there was very little innovation coming out of the luggage and bag industry, and we couldn’t find luggage that was designed for the digital generation.
Together with our amazing designers, like Jaimal Odedra and William Fan, we established a design language that reflects the modern zeitgeist: high-quality materials, subtle branding (the horizon line), clear structures with smart accents. It was always important to us that the technological innovations behind our products were more intuitive and not visible at first glance—‘smart inside’, in a manner of speaking.
2. Why did you establish HORIZN Studios? What is your approach? As frequent travellers, we weren’t really happy with the choice of luggage in the market. The most noticeable discrepancy was between production cost and consumer price. Classic premium brands charge over €499 for a product that costs €49 to produce. This doesn’t exactly keep in with the times. We knew that we could optimise efficiency through an online-first direct-to-consumer model.
We also were amazed at how little innovation there had been in the luggage industry over the past 30 years. Our entire lives have been digitalised, and yet suitcases only managed to go from two to four wheels. This also wasn’t keeping in with the times. As a brand expert, I saw a market gap waiting to be filled: young urban travellers had to make a choice either between traditional luxury brands with the price tags to match, or commodities. There wasn’t a player that could be compared as Under Armour, New Balance or Nike of luggage. There was only the choice between Gucci-Sneakers or Payless. We want to change that.
3. What is your mission statement? Our vision is : ‘We believe in challenging the status quo; moving forwards in a world where travel is easy, every journey is an adventure and curiosity drives us all.’ It is our mission to make products and services that are aimed at making this vision reality. We are a digital and design-driven travel brand.
4. When was HORIZN Studios founded? We founded Horizn Studios in 2015 in Berlin and were Europe’s first player in smart luggage and the first vertical player in the luggage market.
5. How big is your staff? We currently have 42 employees, the majority of whom are based at our Berlin headquarters, though we are often in places like Milan, Hong Kong, London, New York and, thanks to our recent collaboration with the acclaimed DJ Seth Troxler, Ibiza.
6. Are you currently looking for new employees? Our team is growing quickly – we have about five new hires each quarter. We’re currently looking for Front End Developers, Business Intelligence specialists, UX and Graphic Designers and Art Directors.
7. In terms of products: Where did you get your travel experience that is reflected by your suitcases? I have travelled a lot in my life, be it as a teenager off to off-the-grid surfing spots or later to urban hubs through my career. When you spend a lot of time travelling and in airplanes, you develop a keen sense for small details that make travel easier and more effortless. There were so many times when I was travelling that I thought to myself: ‘There’s got to be a better way to do this!’ With the help of my partner and team of experts, we have already successfully made some of our ideas reality.
8. We love the HORIZN trolley. Fantastically light and awesome interior design. How many trolleys have already gone on a journey? Thanks a lot! I’m really glad to hear that. Even before we could deliver the first batch we had more than 10,000 orders – we could barely keep up with the demand! Since our launch, we’ve been growing naturally about 30% per month, so we haven’t actually had to put a lot of effort into growing quickly. About 50% of our sales are currently in the German-speaking markets, while the other half come from mostly within Europe – but we also have a lot of orders from Tokyo, New York and São Paolo.
9. Excellent prize-performance-ratio - where does your product design know-how come from? It was really important for us to not compromise the quality of the materials. In addition to our unique tech features, we wanted to be just as good, if not better, than traditional premium brands. I think we’ve achieved that. GQ and The Times both said we have ‘The World’s Smartest Design Luggage’.
We were able to achieve all that we did by recruiting the best industry experts in all respects to our team. The best wheels in the world, for example, come from these amazing Japanese engineers, the best leather from Tuscany, and the premium aerospace-grade polycarbonate hardshell material from Germany.
Through our online-first business model, we save traditional retail markups, which we give directly to our customers. This is how we have such a high cost-benefit ratio.

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