Growing tired of keys jangling around in his pockets while jogging, industrial designer Charles Ng set about building a rudimentary clamp that bound them together. A couple of years and numerous design iterations later, Ng is now selling his Orbitkey by the tens of thousands. So what is it about his product that has people ditching those cluttered loops of metal for something a little more stylish? We had a quick chat with the young entrepreneur to find out how his take on the everyday keyring unlocked serious start-up success.
"When you think about it, almost everybody has a set of keys," Ng tells Gizmag. "But these are noisy, they can dig into your leg and scratch other things in your pocket like your phone. The OrbitKey solves a problem."
Ng's journey hasn't been without moments of uncertainty, however. After arriving at the final design, Ng and Orbitkey co-founder Rex Kuo were lacking the capital to bring it to market, so the pair embarked on a Kickstarter campaign to fund their first production run. After setting out with a humble goal of raising AUD$10,000 (US$8,400), the team attracted more than $200,000 (US$168,000) in pledges, courtesy of almost 5,000 backers.
"It was definitely unexpected" says Ng. "We never imagined that it would be so popular."
The aesthetic appeal of Orbitkey rests in its leather band (a rubber, less pretty version is also available). This is bound together at either end by a bolt-like locking mechanism, which is fed through the holes on either side to hold the keys in between. The bolt can be loosened or tightened, depending on the number of keys it is holding, up to a maximum of seven. From here, the ring operates much like a Swiss army knife, the user able to fold out certain keys as needed.
There's nothing technologically groundbreaking within the Orbitkey, nor have the two given keyring design a dramatic overhaul. But their unique approach to reshaping an item most carry with them all day everyday has clearly struck a chord with its growing customer base.
"We shipped out our Kickstarter orders in March, have now sold more than 30,000 units and are approaching 40,000," says Ng. "We think we have created something that is beautiful, but also functional."
After spending a couple of days with an Orbitkey myself, I would say it certainly offers a tidier, more stylish alternative to the standard keychain. Whether you find this appealing might depend on the value you place on accessories, or indeed whether you enjoy jogging as much as Ng.
Red, tan and black leather models priced at $40 (US$33). Pink, grey, green,black and aqua rubber models are priced at $30 (US$25). The Orbitkey is available now via the source link below.