How a simple idea unlocked a big business opportunity
The entrepreneurs behind Orbitkey have a clever cash-flow tip in their pocket. Brought to you by American Express.
Industrial designer Charles Ng loved jogging to clear his mind but hated having keys jingling in his pocket. “Being a natural problem-solver, I grabbed a few things from the hardware store, used a little mechanical glue and created a solution,” says the Melbourne-based entrepreneur.
The unique keyring invention caught the eye of Ng’s school friend Rex Kuo, who saw a huge market for it. The pair launched a Kickstarter campaign for the new product, christened Orbitkey.
They hoped to raise $10,000 but surpassed that goal in the first 24 hours. By the end of the 30-day campaign, they had raised more than $200,000. Ng left his job and flew to China to meet manufacturers. “I planned to go for seven days and it ended up being a three-month stint,” he recalls.
Pictured: Rex Kuo and Charles Ng
By April 2014, just five months after crowdfunding began, the first Orbitkey order was shipped. It proved to be a huge success and the business has since expanded into a range of slick desk accessories to cater to a rapidly expanding remote and hybrid workforce.
While crowdfunding offered an initial income stream, the American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card enables Ng to continue to invest in growth. “Digital marketing is really important and using the Card allows us to run large campaigns, knowing we have up to 51 days to pay for purchases.1
That means we often have money from ecommerce sales coming in before payments are due, which has helped the business grow rapidly.”
Qantas Points are also helping them go global. “Despite the growth of our ecommerce arm, retail is still important to the business and our products are stocked in stores across Europe, the US and South-East Asia. Attending international trade shows is vital to maintaining that presence, but travel costs can add up quickly. That’s where our American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card comes in handy. We use it every single day, earning up to 1.25 Qantas Points for every $1 spent on our business expenses.2 For us, that translates into millions of Qantas Points that we can use for business flights, generating significant savings for the company.”
The key to managing cash flow
Orbitkey’s digital marketing spend regularly hits $100,000 a month. If it needs to go higher, Ng knows his American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card has him covered. Card Members can access up to $1 million in a line of unsecured funding across a 12-month period.3 “When we have a big launch, we need everything to align with great timing, great products and great marketing. With no pre-set spending limit3 on our Card, we can focus our full attention on ensuring everything else is going to plan.”
Turning a seachange into a luxury stays startup
Pictured: Alexandra Ormerod
When Alexandra Ormerod and her husband Tom started a family, they found holiday options were limited to poky hotel rooms, serviced apartments or stays “where if you arrived after 5pm, you’d have to pick the keys up from the local fish-and-chip shop,” says Alexandra.
When they moved to Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula and noticed many of their neighbours only used their houses a few nights a month, they saw an opportunity. With experience in travel marketing and property sales, they founded high-end holiday home rental company Luxico in October 2013 with two Melbourne properties. Within months they had 20 properties on the books and, by 2015, they’d expanded into Sydney.
Last financial year, Luxico hosted more than 20,000 room nights at 300 properties in eight locations along Australia’s east coast. Before guests arrive, a concierge checks the property and remains on call to provide all the assistance you’d expect from a hotel. Some of the “ultravillas” have hosted A-listers such as former professional footballer David Beckham and singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, and Airbnb partnered with Luxico when it launched Airbnb Luxe in Australia.
Despite steady growth, Luxico is still a very seasonal business and the Ormerods need to be mindful of cash flow. “During off-peak periods, we need to balance our cash reserves carefully,” says Alexandra. “Putting expenses like our tax bill on our American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card gives us an extra buffer, with up to 51 days to pay for purchases.1 That helps us make it through to the peak summer period.
“We always need to be thinking about the future, too. We need to invest in marketing year-round, so Luxico can continue to grow. A campaign might cost as much as $120,000, which is a significant investment, but with no pre-set spending limit3 on the Card, we can pay for that with a single transaction.”
Earning Qantas Points on its everyday business spend, Luxico redeems the points for flights, which are essential for the geographically fragmented business. “When we reconnect with our key clients, we see an immediate uptick in sales referrals, so it’s absolutely essential we see them regularly. Our American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card helps us do that.”
The key to managing cash flow
Ormerod and her team travel frequently and need an easy way to pay when they’re on the road, while also earning Qantas Points. “With our American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card, we can add up to 99 Employee Card Members at no additional cost.4 We can accrue Qantas Points on business expenses, then redeem them for flights and hotels to keep business travel costs down.”
Find out more:
Earn 150,000 bonus Qantas Points* with the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card. Minimum spend $3,000 on eligible purchases in the first two months of your approval date. New Amex Card Members only. Offer ends 4 April 2023. T&Cs apply. Learn more at americanexpress.com/australia/acuity
American Express approval criteria applies. Subject to Terms and Conditions. Fees and charges apply. All information is correct as at 1 February 2023 and is subject to change. This offer is only available to those who reside in Australia. Cards are offered, issued and administered by American Express Australia Limited (ABN 92 108 952 085). ®Registered Trademark of American Express Company.
*Offer only available to new American Express Card Members who apply by 4 April 2023, are approved and spend $3,000 on eligible purchases on their new Card in the first two (2) months from the Card approval date. Eligible purchases do not include Card fees and charges, for example annual fees, interest, late payment, cash advances, balance transfers, traveller’s cheques and foreign currency conversion. Card Members who currently hold or who have previously held any other Card product issued by American Express Australia Limited in the preceding 18-month period are ineligible for this offer. 150,000 bonus Qantas Points will be awarded to the eligible Card Member’s Account 8-10 weeks after the spend criteria has been met. Subject to the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card Points Terms and Conditions. $450 annual fee applies. This advertised offer is not applicable or valid in conjunction with any other advertised or promotional offer. 1. Depending on your method of payment, when you make a purchase, when your statement is issued and whether or not you are carrying forward a balance on your account from your previous statement period. 2. A business must be a Qantas Business Rewards member to earn Qantas Points for business. Subject to the Qantas Business Rewards terms and conditions and the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card Points terms and conditions. Your business will earn 1.25 Qantas Points per $1 of everyday spend, which does not include annual fees, late payment fee and fees and charges for foreign currencies, 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent at participating merchants classified as “utilities”, “government” and “insurance” excluding insurances offered by American Express and 2 Qantas Points per $1 spent on the eligible Qantas products and services purchased on the Qantas merchant account (i.e. directly from Qantas). Excludes Jetstar and other exclusions. 3. No pre-set spending limit does not mean unlimited spending. Your purchases are approved based on a variety of factors. 4. American Express approval criteria apply. Subject to Terms and Conditions. Fees and charges apply. This offer is only available to those who reside in Australia. Employee Card Members must be over 18 years of age. The Business, the Primary Card Member and each Employee Card Member are jointly and severally liable for all Employee Card spending. Each employee is entitled to only one (1) Employee Card.