How a Singaporean built a thriving toy business

“I’m not the best artist. I’m terrible,” Jackson Ow said with a laugh.

This may seem ironic, given that the 32-year-old is the founder and CEO of Mighty Jaxx, a Singapore-based designer toy company.

But for Aw, acknowledging his own shortcomings helped him turn his start-up into a multimillion-dollar international toy business.

“It’s this realization that … I have to choose people who are much smarter than me. I work with them and I work with them,” he said. CNBC Do it.

“If this artist has dedicated his career to building this craft, then they are better than what I can be.”

How it all started

Founded in 2012, Mighty Jaxx has partnered with some of the world’s largest brands and visual artistsproducing modern collectibles that include pop culture and design.

She has since sold “millions” of collectible toys to people in more than 80 countries, Aw said.

It all started when he started watching a lot of “how-to videos” on YouTube, which he found “fascinating”.

I thought there would only be a few machines that would spit out (the toys). And that, to be honest, was very naive.

Jackson Ow

Founder, Mighty Jaxx

“Those videos that tell you how to make chicken bites, such as how to make hot dogs, are the process that goes into this. “While I was looking at them, I looked at my shelf of collectibles that I have,” he said.

“Can I create something physical with my own hands and make it?”

Au, an avid 17-year-old toy collector, decided to book a one-way flight to Shenzhen, China, where he visited factories to learn about the toy manufacturing process.

Jackson Aw visited factories in Shenzhen, China to learn about the toy manufacturing process.

Jackson Ow

His curiosity quickly turned to amazement when he learned techniques such as hand sculpting and shaping.

“I thought there would be only a few machines that would spit out (toys) outside. And that, to be honest, was very naive, “he said.

“I was shocked to see hundreds of people … just crafting and painting on this one element, for what our perception will be a product of the mass market.”

Inspired by what he saw in China, Jackson returned home a month later to create his own designer toy with a Singaporean graffiti artist. Clogtwo.

It is as if we have never experienced this fear again. So we took the money and turned it over.

Jackson Ow

Founder, Mighty Jaxx

Together, they created Mighty Jaxx’s first collector’s item, “Hell Lotus.” With a $ 20,000 loan, he produced 200 pieces of the toy, which he launched at the Singapore Comics Convention in 2012.

Aw sold the inventory in six months and there was no going back. “It’s as if we’ve never experienced this fear again. So we took the money and turned it over.”

Great break

After Mighty Jaxx reached its first licensing partnership with DC Comics of Warner Brothers, the company made $ 1.7 million in 2015, four times more than the previous year.

The mighty Jax

“His secretary replied (saying) that we have 30 minutes this Friday, you can come and just talk to us.

He flew to Burbank, California, where he showed Montoya the potential designs and 3D prototypes of DC toys. “In the end, he just said, ‘Okay.’ We will shake it, “said Au.

“I left the room and thought, ‘No, that can’t be real.'” The next day they sent the contract, and it was a global deal.

This deal, which Aw said was a “huge leap of faith” on the part of Montoya, quadrupled the top line for Mighty Jaxx.

According to Aw, his company made $ 1.7 million in 2015, four times more than the previous year.

“And then (I get it), damn it, something’s going on,” he said.

From DC to Netflix

Since then, Aw has doubled its collaboration with renowned brands to reach fandoms around the world, from Adidas, Hasbro and Nickelodeon, to Formula 1, Sesame Street and Netflix.

These collaborations have allowed Aw to produce collectibles on a larger scale and at lower prices, making them more accessible to fans.

DC’s collectibles, for example, sold for $ 10 each. This is affordable compared to other Mighty Jaxx toys, which are produced in much smaller quantities, which can cost up to $ 1,200.

In 2020, Aw also began producing boxes for the blind that contained figurines or toys unknown to buyers until they were unpacked.

Mighty Jaxx also produces blind boxes in collaboration with Jason Freeney, who is known for his anatomical art.

The mighty Jax

He is partnering with an American designer Jason Freeneywho is known for his anatomical art.

“We’ve applied it to many of our licensing partners, and everyone likes it because it’s such an alternative,… And now it’s become a mainstay for us.”

The keen eye for what is fashionable it certainly paid off. According to Mighty Jaxx, the company’s revenue has grown at a complicated rate of 71% from 2019 to 2021.

To date, Mighty Jaxx has raised about $ 40 million, valuing the company over $ 200 million. Its investors include a Chinese conglomerate Tencent, KB Investment and East Ventures.

Aw also managed to 30 under 30 Asia on Forbes list in 2018, at 28 years old.

Jackson Aw tips for young entrepreneurs? “Fear will always exist. But the question is, what do you think about it?”

Eli Lo

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