That may seem contradictory considering that the 32-year-old is the founder and CEO of Mighty Jaxx, a Singapore-based designer toy company.
However, recognizing his shortcomings, according to Aw, has helped him expand his start-up into a multimillion-dollar worldwide toy corporation.
How it all started
Mighty Jaxx, created in 2012, has collaborated with some of the most prominent worldwide companies and visual artists to create contemporary collectibles that combine pop culture and design.
Since then, the firm has sold “millions” of toy collectibles to buyers in over 80 countries, according to Aw.
It all started when he started watching “how-to-make-it” tutorials on YouTube, which he found “fascinating.”
“I figured there would only be a few devices spewing forth” (toys).” “And that was, to be honest, extremely naïve,” he said.
“I was surprised to see hundreds of individuals… simply sculpting and painting on that one piece of merchandise, on what we believe would be a mass-market product.”
Inspired by what he witnessed in China, Jackson came home after one month to collaborate with Singaporean graffiti artist Clogtwo to develop his own customized toy.
They collaborated to produce Mighty Jaxx’s first collectible, the “Hell Lotus.” He built 200 units of the toy with the aid of a $20,000 loan, which he debuted at the Singapore Comic Convention in 2012.
There was no going back once Aw sold the goods in six months. “It’s as if we never experienced that terror again. So we accepted the cash and rolled with it.”
Mighty Jaxx has worked with visual artists worldwide to produce one-of-a-kind, limited-edition collectibles while being “cash flow positive,” according to Aw.
“We never accepted outside money till much later,” he noted.
When Aw won his first license relationship with Warner Brothers’ DC Comics in 2015, the tide completely flipped for the firm.
On a whim, he emailed Julian Montoya, Warner Brothers’ vice president of worldwide toys at the time, wanting to “restyle” Warner Brothers’ creative intellectual property, such as the DC Comics characters.
His secretary responded: “We do have 30 minutes on Friday. You can simply come over and talk with us.”
He traveled to Burbank, California, to exhibit Montoya’s prospective DC toy ideas and 3D prototypes. “At the end, he merely said, ‘Alright.'” “We’ll give it a shake,” Aw replied.
“I walked out of the room thinking, ‘Nah, it can’t be true.'” The contract was sent over the next day, and it was for a global deal.”
That deal, which Aw described as a “huge leap of faith” on Montoya’s side, doubled Mighty Jaxx’s top line.
According to Aw, his firm earned $1.7 million in 2015, which was four times the previous year.
“And that’s when I knew, holy crap, something’s going on,” he explained.
From DC to Netflix
Since then, Aw has expanded its relationships with large corporations to reach global fandoms, including Adidas, Hasbro, Nickelodeon, Formula 1, Sesame Street, and Netflix.
Aw was able to produce collectibles on a greater scale and at lower costs due to these collaborations, making them more accessible to fans.
For example, DC collectibles were priced at $10 apiece. This is a bargain when compared to other Mighty Jaxx toys, which are created in far smaller quantities and may cost up to $1,200.
Aw also began creating blind boxes in 2020, including figurines or toys that purchasers do not know about until they are unpacked.
He collaborated with anatomical artist and designer Jason Freeny from the United States.
“We used it on a number of our license partners, and they all liked it since it gives things a different appearance… And that has now become a standard line for us.”
Aw’s excellent sense of style has undoubtedly paid off. Mighty Jaxx’s revenue increased at a compounded rate of 71 percent between 2019 and 2021.
Mighty Jaxx has raised over $40 million, putting the firm at more than $200 million. Its backers include Tencent, KB Investment, and East Ventures.
Aw was also included on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Asia list in 2018 at 28.