Jen Rubio Away Businesswoman Image Credit: Inc.
Jen Rubio Away Businesswoman Image Credit: Inc.

How I Didn't Get That MBA (And Still Started A Billion-Dollar Company)

In May, the suitcase company Away, which Jen Rubio co-founded with fellow Warby Parker alum Steph Korey in 2015, raised $100 million, at a valuation of $1.4 billion. The company has sold a million suitcases and estimates 2019 revenue will hit $300 million. But Rubio’s path wasn’t always easy wheeling—especially when a controversy threatened to sink her company. As told to Christine Lagorio-chafkin

Christine Lagorio-Chafkin

When I was 7, my family moved from the Philippines to New Jersey. In the Philippines, I’d had the best schools and the best teachers. In New Jersey, I was the girl with an accent who ate different foods. Who was put into lower classes, because I was an ESL student. All of these things, I wanted to hide.

I asked my mom to get me a speech coach, to get rid of my accent. I read a lot and watched a ton of TV. By high school, I was in all honors classes. The only downside is that I can no longer speak Tagalog.

My career has been so weird and nonlinear. So many times, I was so uncertain. I wish my younger self could have known that that’s OK.

One of my first jobs was at Johnson & Johnson, during college, where I first encountered how real marketing is done. When I told my manager I wanted to go into marketing, she said, “You’d need an MBA to join our team.”

But I didn’t get an MBA. When I was 20, I left school. I juggled jobs. I became a social media consultant before that title existed. (I tweeted for a café.) That led to my becoming head of social media at Warby Parker in 2011.

When Steph and I were going to our first investor meeting for Away, we were so nervous, we were still practicing our pitch on the subway. When we got there, the guy was like, “I just got my Apple Watch”—it was the day it came

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