Charles Ng is the co-founder of Orbitkey which solves the simple problem of jingling keys using a refined and highly considered design approach. Orbitkey raised $210,000 in Kickstarter funds to realise their convenient idea
Where did you get the idea for your business?
Initially, the first prototype of Orbitkey was made to solve my own problem of jingling keys whilst exercising - jogging, to be more specific. It was as simple as all my keys stacked together and fastened with a screw and nut found in the toolbox.
How did you get your business started?
Almost a year after carrying the first prototype, I showed the idea to a good high-school friend (Rex) and he could immediately see how useful the product could be for a lot of people. Back then, I was working as an industrial designer for a product design consultancy and Rex was working as a pharmacist. Originally, we looked at it as a side project and a lot of our work was done outside our nine to five work hours. We decided to continue questioning and challenging the traditional ways of key carrying. In result, after nine months of developing it after work hours, we decided to introduce the product via a crowdfunding platform (Kickstarter) in late 2013. Gratefully, the campaign went extremely well and we managed to raise $210,000 in funding from over 5,000 supporters. It was a great springboard for us as it funded our first production run and also the funds we needed to travel overseas to monitor the manufacturing.
What lessons have you learned so far on your business journey?
That you never stop learning. The past three years have taught us so much more than we could imagine. It is one of the biggest rewards from this jourPerseverancerance goes a long way - no matter how many times I go through the process, it’s always hard to remember this fact. I always feel like I’m not doing enough but at the same time, I also question myself about whether or not all the extra miles are necessary. But in the end, it always pays off for us. Up to this point, there is still so much to be discovered and learnt that I find it intimidating. But I always have to remind myself to embrace the journey and the process. I’m learning to accept that it is impossible to be perfect, but it is important to aim high and be the best you can be.
How important has it been for you to have a mentor?
Extremely important. A lot of people say to make mistakes quickly and learn from them - however, a much more effective way would be to avoid unnecessary mistakes by learning from other people's experience. I do not think that we have had one particular mentor, but we definitely have a few people we met along the way that we go to for advice. Each one of them have expertise in different areas and we try to take their suggestions on board to minimise risk.
What are your top three tips for starting a business?
Build relationships / contribute to the community: We believe business owners can all learn from each other so It is important to build relationships with others. When unsure about something, do not be afraid to ask for advice - it is so amazing and inspiring to see how much people are willing to share their experience. And vice versa. Whenever you can, give back to the community. If you have information which you think will be valuable to others, be open about it and share it with others. What you might know unconsciously may be worth weeks of figuring out for someone else. Business is hard, but it helps a great deal when you have support around you.
Create / do something that you would use, and adds value: There’s a big difference between coming up with an idea and actually making it work - especially for the end users. We spent many months trialling different designs and refining them until we came up with something that we were truly happy with. It’s a lot easier when you believe in the product or service you are selling.
The most important thing is to begin something: As a designer, I often get caught in the pursuit of design perfection, and Rex will have to pull me back in to ensure we meet the deadlines. In our case, having a business partner that you can trust really helps, because you can keep each other accountable - it's also great having different point of views when it comes to making important decisions. And… on a final note. Prioritise! It’s important to be realistic and know that even if you can do anything, you can’t do everything. The challenge is to decide your next move.
Charles Ng is a graduate of the Bachelor of Arts (Hons), Industrial Design
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"I’m learning to accept that it is impossible to be perfect, but it is important to aim high and be the best you can be." - Charles Ng - Co-Founder of Orbitkey