How Pacsafe's co-founders turned an accident into an international brand

MANILA, Philippines – When you’re on vacation, the last thing you want to worry about is taking care of your bags. You’re already stressed as it is with making it to your flight on time, and you’re too busy finding the perfect quote to go with your Instagram posts. Who has the time, right? 

Nothing ruins a vacation faster than finding out that your bag, with all your travel essentials, has gone missing. But that's exactly what happened to Pacsafe co-founder Rob Schlipper. When Rappler sat down with Magnus McGlashan, one of the brand’s co-founders, he shared that this particular incident was what inspired them to venture into anti-theft bags.

“When they found the bag, it was stuffed with newspapers and none of his clothes. There was nothing in it. They’ve stolen everything. With backpack travelers, there’s nothing to lock up your bag. There was nothing in the market then,” Magnus recalled.

MAGNUS MCGLASHAN. The Pacsafe co-founder poses in front of a Pacsafe store display in the Philippines. All photos by Precious del Valle/Rappler unless otherwise stated

MAGNUS MCGLASHAN. The Pacsafe co-founder poses in front of a Pacsafe store display in the Philippines.

All photos by Precious del Valle/Rappler unless otherwise stated

The year was 1998. Just like any startup, there were challenges along the way. It took a lot of trial and error before they finally found the right material, guaranteed to make all Pacsafe bags slash-proof, puncture-proof, and RFID safe. As seasoned travelers, they had a clear understanding of what the market needed – and they delivered.

“We were first in the marketplace to do any locking bags. At that time, it was very very revolutionary. We saw an area in the marketplace that no one had concentrated [on]: securing your valuables. We understood that when your valuables are secured you can feel a lot more relaxed you can actually enjoy yourself,” Magnus explained.

But it was only in 2016 that Pacsafe opened their very first brick and mortar store. Not in Australia, where the founders were born, nor in Hong Kong, the gateway to global manufacturing, but here in the Philippines. 

“The Philippines is very eager to embrace new brands. I think the Filipinos understand the concept. They understand quality... I travel a lot and I can say that more Filipinos have been traveling the last two years than I have seen before. Filipinos are probably some of the most traveled people in the world,” he said fondly. 

“We worked very hard on our quality and the Philippines has been very big part of that. Whenever we have bags we will send them here first and if they can survive the Philippine customers then we’re onto a winner.”

On average, Pacsafe bags will set you back anywhere from P2,000 to P10,000. Each of them includes a 5-year warranty for manufacture defects. It’s not cheap by a long shot, but the co-founder promises consumers that they’ll get what they paid for and more.

“We never wanted to be the cheapest and we always wanted to stick to our quality. If you look at the detail, and all its functionality, we’re always trying to make things easier for customers. I think they can really understand that the quality is there. They can really see it.” – Rappler.com

For more information and complete list of branches, check out Pacsafe’s Facebook page.