Orbitkey Co-Founder Rex Kuo On The Orbitkey Ring, Clip & Strap
The Orbitkey Key organiser has been a Rushfaster favourite since its invention a couple years ago. Now, after a successful Orbitkey 2.0 release, the designers at Orbitkey are back on Kickstarter with an entire ecosystem of smart key carrying - consisting of the Orbitkey Ring, Orbitkey Clip, and Orbitkey Strap.
We spoke to Orbitkey's co-founder Rex Kuo about the inspirations behind their new collection and the role of Kickstarter as a creative platform for emerging designers.
- Orbitkey has been around for a few years now, can you tell us your story and the success you've had so far?
We launched our first product, the Orbitkey Key Organiser, back in 2013 via Kickstarter and wow, what an incredible journey it’s been since then! It’s still a bit surreal, to be honest… to think that a small project to solve our frustration with jingling keys could turn into a full-blown company, where we now have a team of 12 across Melbourne and New York. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to work with 700+ great retail stores globally and with 2018 just around the corner, we’re super excited to bring everyone something new.
- So you've just released the Orbitkey Ring, Orbitkey Clip and Orbitkey Strap on Kickstarter, what inspired these products and what problem do they solve?
As a design-driven company, we try our best to create innovative products that solve problems. The latest products were pretty much a solution to something that was a bit of a personal headache for the team and most people can relate to.
The most common example for us is when customers ask for their keys to be put in an Orbitkey. What always seems to happen is we either end up breaking a fingernail or have to do the biggest hunt ever for a sharp object to pry open their split ring. I guess this made us realise that a more user-friendly and effortless solution was necessary, and that’s why we came up with the Orbitkey Ring. An easy to use the ring that can be used on its own or with the original Orbitkey Key Organiser to carry car keys and bulky items.
Alongside this are a modern and innovative carabiner (the Orbitkey Clip) and an elegant leather carry strap (the Orbitkey Strap), allowing the management of your everyday carry to be simplified, but still stylish at the same time.
- What is the creative process like at Orbitkey?
We don’t have a specific process we follow, but we definitely take the support and feedback received from our crowdfunding community very seriously. We wouldn’t be where we are without them, so when we have an idea, we tend to hack out the basics and see how our Orbitkey family feel about it. We prefer to involve them in our growth journey, rather than just touching base with them when we’ve reached the destination.
- How long did it take you to get to this point?
Honestly, there’s no set time frame. Each project is different and it’s guaranteed that the challenges will also vary each time. The thing to always remember is to be open to feedback and be flexible to change where necessary, no matter how difficult it may be.
We’re so blessed to have such a close-knit group of passionate individuals who we can always reach out to and rely on, and that’s one of our motivations to always do the best we can in what we do.
- One amazing thing about the Ring, Clip, and Strap is that they work perfectly together. So what about the Orbitkey Organiser? How does that fit into the ecosystem?
You know, the 3 products were actually designed to work with the Orbitkey Key Organiser. All 3 products work independently, but together, along with the Key Organiser, of course, they create an ecosystem to manage both keys and accessories.
When the Orbitkey Ring was designed initially, it was because many of the guys in the office had bulky car keys that were attached to the Key Organiser via a standard split ring. We found the process of taking off the car key and other accessories very time-consuming and difficult; hence we came up with our own Ring. For the Clip, this can also be used along with the Key Organiser to allow you to attach your keys anywhere. Some of the guys prefer to carry their Key Organiser on their belt loop as it frees up their pocket for their phone and wallets.
- We love the fact that the Organiser comes in different band colours and materials. Do you have any plans for the Ring, Clip, and Strap?
We certainly do! We’ve just released the Ring in Navy on Kickstarter and are the next stretch goal is an all-black ring!
- We all know that the Orbitkey Organiser version 1 and 2 were resounding successes. So how do you feel about all that? And how much did that success influence you for this project?
Orbitkey was born on Kickstarter, and coming back to Kickstarter for Version 2 allowed us to raise the funds for the initial production run and mould fees required for new products. If it weren’t for crowdfunding, the traditional route would be to get an external investor or contact the bank to bring new products to life. We see the latter as a slippery slope as this takes away our creativity and ability to make products based on what we feel will add value to our customers. We reckon the external pressure would see us pumping out products based on what we know would sell, with not a lot of thought behind them. Definitely not something we strive for!
Going forward, we still see crowdfunding as a big part of our business model. The ability to create and interact with a tribe of early adopters for new products is extremely valuable.
- What do you think about Kickstarter as a creative platform?
As you can imagine, we’re huge supporters of Kickstarter and crowdfunding in general! It’s what brought Orbitkey to life after all - we’re big advocates and it’s a genuine passion for us! Not just running projects but backing other campaigns too. It’s nice to follow the journey of new products, both from brand new companies and established companies.
If you haven’t backed a campaign before, I would highly recommend it. I personally love it when project creators send out updates on the production and design progress, alongside being transparent about the obstacles they encounter. It’s such a good feeling knowing that I helped bring a product to life!
In terms of creativity, I feel that Kickstarter is easily the most creative out of all the crowdfunding platforms. They have very strict submission requirements to prevent folks from submitting products without a working prototype or submitting projects that may be infringing on other designers work. We’re seeing a worrying trend of people launching products without any thought and innovation, or outright rebranding an existing product and trying to pass it off as something new - it’s not in the spirit of crowdfunding and hurts the community.
- And are there any other projects on Kickstarter that you’re really interested in right now and want to share with our readers?
There are so many! I tend to follow a lot of the product design projects. One of my all-time favourite companies is Peak Design; they recently launched a 4-day campaign on Kickstarter, which had updated versions of their original products. The campaign had over 12,000 backers in 4 days!
Update: The Kickstarter campaign has now finished after successfully raising $354,512 - which is over 1000% of the original goal.
Buy the Orbitkey Ring, Clip & Strap from Rushfaster.