Irina ZusmanIrina Zusman is an avid traveller, so she understands what a pain it can be when you’re in between check-ins, check-outs and dragging luggage around foreign cities, while trying to see the sites.  So the Toronto, Canada-based entrepreneur created BagsAway, a short-term storage for luggage so that travellers can experience the world with open arms. Today Zusman’s company has locations across the globe and she’s celebrating each milestone as a success in its own right. 

Zusman’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:

As a travel enthusiast, my ultimate goal in starting BagsAway was to find a way to free travellers of the things weighing them down, holding them back from enjoying every minute of their adventure. How many travellers have you seen carting luggage around busy streets during peak tourist season? Being chained to our belongings, without recourse, severely limits our potential to experience everything a destination has to offer, forfeiting valuable vacation time. We knew there had to be a better, safer way to make the most out of every trip.

Success isn’t linear, rather it’s a collection of micro and macro achievements. Each milestone is a success in its own right on the path to a larger overarching goal that contains all these moments. Reaching each step on the ladder of success requires resilience in the face of defeat while conquering fears, big and small.

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BagsAway carries many victories and plenty still to come! However, my thoughts turned to a specific feat I had in organizing a charity golf tournament for “Have a Heart for Down Syndrome Foundation” co-founded by the hockey legend Darryl Sitler. Due to a number of circumstances, I took ownership of the event less than two months away from the tournament. I had no previous experience in organizing an event of that magnitude and with the limited time I had the pressure was on! I had to coordinate all the marketing and promotional materials, promote on, produce blog and brochure content, coordinate print of all banners and promo materials and custom t-shirts, recruit player group registrations, account for the raffle, the photography, the games, and items for the auction. Not to mention giveaways and some unique and relevant entertainment features for the event. Of course, I could not do it all on my own and could never have done it without the board and my trusty assistant Sarah, but ultimately it was up to me to pull the event together and I did it twice over. It was a personal achievement, a learning experience, and more than anything a truly touching one to know that the event had some impact on those affected by Down Syndrome and their families.

When you’re building a business perfectionism is a barrier to productivity. Timely execution is key so the motto is “it’s better done than perfect.” I like to refer to myself as a recovering perfectionist in progress, as I constantly have to remind myself to let go. If it’s not perfect now we can always improve, revise, and iterate. Just get it done and don’t dwell on the details. However, overcoming the need for perfection is a work in progress and something you have to work on every day.

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Obviously there are goals in every one of those aspects, however, our overarching goal is eliminating luggage storage as a point of friction altogether and embedding it into the fabric of the travel booking process – book your flight, your accommodations, and your storage. The vision is to offer our service in every city in the world with a value add through innovation beyond the storage. Time is the most precious commodity we have and we want to give our customers time back to make memories, experience, and see more of their dream destinations without luggage in the way.

There are several inspirational entrepreneurs and business leaders that I would count amongst my top role models, however, when I think about a strong work ethic I think of my dad. His persistence and relentless drive to be better is inspirational and sometimes even intimidating. He managed to get through his immigration interview in English without speaking the language, rather he memorized every answer to every possible question in a language he didn’t really understand. If that wasn’t enough he came to Canada and enrolled in college where he studied physiology, anatomy, and biology without speaking the language and excelled as a top student with straight A’s. How? He sat and translated each English word. He had to learn the terms, concepts, and applications AND the meaning of every word. That’s pretty mind-boggling to me considering he did it while also working to support a family. He went through two immigrations with a lot of hard work that persists till this day. Failure is a part of success but ultimately to him it’s not an option because he’ll keep trying until he succeeds.

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