Elevator Pitch: OrbitRemit

Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we’re talking with Robbie Sampson, CEO and Co-founder of OrbitRemit.

In 128 words or less, explain your business idea

Myself and a couple of the other shareholders, way back in 2008, looked at an over-the-counter money transfer technology and decided that we wanted to try and mobilise it (get it down to a mobile device).

So, we jumped on a plane, flew around Asia, and spent six months talking to providers, banks and telcos. We soon discovered that we were way ahead of our time. Everyone loved the idea, but couldn’t monetise it.

We came back to New Zealand and decided that we would bring the idea back to a web based fully online business and build a customer facing website that would enable people to send money, quickly, cheaply and safely. And that’s what we do.

What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?

We have taken a customer centric approach from day one, looking at what the person sending money really wants and needs.

In terms of outcomes, we wanted to deliver a very good user experience for the customer. We needed to build a business around speed of settlement of funds and very very low costs, with regards to fees and FX rates.

Our focus around community has been a very valuable part of helping us grow into some of the key channels that we are number one in, for example the Philippines. It’s that community focus which is key to ensuring that the business has that ongoing and pretty spectacular growth curve.

We’re now at the point that each year, OrbitRemit helps transfer hundreds of millions of dollars to hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

What’s the biggest challenge facing your business?

The greatest challenge for us is ensuring that the technology we use is as innovative as possible for our customers.

We spend a great deal of time looking at new technology. For example, we have business intelligence tools that really tell us how the business is performing, what aspects of the business we should be focusing on and how that might improve customer experience. Analysing critical data also helps us to identify what isn’t working enabling us to take the necessary actions to improve or remove.

Building new relationships for our target channels is also extremely important, we are very focused on ensuring we have full redundancy in terms of payout capability. Identifying a bank or pay out partner in a country where we think we have an opportunity to grow in, and ensuring the partner has the same approach to business that we do, that they’ll deliver excellent service day in, day out.

How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?

I think it comes back to community.

We have focused unbelievable levels of support to our customers. In providing that support, it comes back to that customer centric view of the world that we have.

We believe that customer support is incredibly important in terms of retaining customers and convincing them that there is clear belief from us in the emotional aspects of the money transfer process.

We understand that it’s not just about sending money to someone to buy a car, it’s about sending money to help people buy daily necessities, to pay for food, heating in the winter, and to send their kids to school; the things they need to survive daily life.

What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?

OrbitRemit’s app of course!

I actually use an FX Rate app. It keeps me updated with the latest currency rates right from my phone.

WhatsApp and Slack are lifesavers when I’m travelling constantly for work. I can speak to the family and kids when I’m away, as well as catch-up with the team in London.

What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?

Empathy for your customers – really put yourself in their shoes.

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