Designer collectibles maker heads abroad – and into the metaverse

Mighty Jaxx has expanded from physical collectibles to digital NFTs

DESIGNER toys and art collectibles maker Mighty Jaxx has plans to go far - in both the physical and digital worlds. Having set up offices in China and the United Kingdom in the past year, it intends to open more in the United States and Asean markets such as Indonesia and Thailand in the near future. The metaverse, meanwhile, is "a huge part" of its future plans.

Founded in 2012, the startup has worked with global names such as Netflix and Formula One, and has ties with entertainment giants such as Hasbro, Nickelodeon and Disney. Since being named Most Promising Startup in the Emerging Enterprise Awards 2018, it has closed multiple financing rounds, raising more than US$40 million and gaining investors crucial to expansion plans in China, North Asia and South-east Asia.

Its products may be toys, but they aren't child's play - Mighty Jaxx has incorporated digital and blockchain technology into its collectibles since late 2018. For instance, embedded near-field communication chips allow users to authenticate purchases and unlock online content via a mobile app. In 2021, the startup released its first non-fungible token collection, and has since been building this Mighty Meta business.

This June, Mighty Jaxx acquired two pop culture companies: Kinetiquettes, a high-end statue collectible company through which it gained IP (intellectual property) from popular Japanese titles such as Monster Hunter, Attack on Titan, and My Hero Academia; and retailer PLAYe, whose direct-to-consumer touchpoints and channels can now be tapped.

The Business Times speaks to Jackson Aw, founder and chief executive officer of Mighty Jaxx, about the company's plans.

Q: What is your outlook for the art collectible market?

Aw: I believe that demand in the art collectible market will continue growing and the rising popularity of comparable collectible companies such as Funko and Pop Mart is only the beginning of a new era of collecting.

There has been a huge resale market developing online as collectors trade pieces to build collections, with rare items selling for large multiples of their original prices. During the pandemic, logistics disruptions curtailed supplies. A shortage in supply and rising demand caused some collectibles to surge in price into the tens of thousands - and consumers still bought them.

Particularly in Asia, the rising income of the middle class will also lead to further value growth in the art collectibles market. Factors such as increasing consumer awareness of branded products, rising purchasing power, increasing willingness to spend on art collectibles, and the expansion of organised retailing will all contribute to value growth in the coming years.

Q: How has your growth been, and what has supported it?

Aw: We doubled our revenue from 2019 to 2020 and almost tripled our revenue from 2020 to 2021. Our exponential growth over the period of 2019 to 2021 can be attributed to the launch of new product categories, regional expansion and the addition of strong performing IPs such as One Piece, My Little Pony and Hello Kitty as well as the launch of proprietary IPs such as Nyammy Treats and Inked Stories. Our recent acquisition of PLAYe will also be a consistent source of revenue in the coming years.

As we continue to grow our product offerings, categories and IPs along with the acquisition of more synergistic companies, we are optimistic that we continue to be on the right path for growth.

Q: Many sectors are now facing a manpower crunch. Is it hard to find the talent that you need?

Aw: We have actually been growing our headcount at a very sustainable rate and we have been fortunate to find suitable talents even in our overseas offices. A lot of people who join us are collectors themselves or are fans of IPs that we work with. When we share our story and what we are building with potential candidates, most are intrigued and are excited to join the team.

It also helps that we have a pretty cool office that is like a playground for adults, and an amazing culture which I think the younger generation really appreciates. We have almost doubled our headcount the past year and are looking to grow our team even further.

Q: What are your plans for the future?

Aw: Growing our core business, diversifying our revenue streams through new product categories, accelerating business-to-consumer channel growth and extending our international reach. We are also looking into the acquisition of major and complementary companies in the industry over the next three years, which will give us consolidated resources such as technical expertise, sales channels and customer insights, as well as IPs and product development.

A huge part of our future plans would be moving into the metaverse. We are looking to build equity in this new digital ecosystem and drive e-commerce and virtual product sales in order to grow and capture a larger audience. We are working towards a true hybrid 'phygital' offering via a platform approach that will reimagine the full-experiential journey for all fans and create value for them.

Q: What did the EE award mean to you?

Aw: It was absolutely an honour to win the EE award back in 2018. It was very meaningful as we were a young company back then and it was a testament to the team's hard work and what we were doing.

The award reassured us that we had a great business idea and were on the right track to build something big. It gave us a huge confidence boost that we needed to go out and make it happen. Of course, the recognition and resources that came with the prestigious award also helped us tremendously in finding the right partners and IPs to come onboard our business, and making Mighty Jaxx what it is today.

This article is part of a series on former winners of the Emerging Enterprise Awards. This year's EE winners will be announced on Nov 22.


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