Life Style

From S$600/mth salary at the start to making millions

For those who see a toy figurine like this in somebody’s house on full show, you might want to make a psychological observe that this particular person is a extremely severe toy collector.

These collectible figurines from Singapore’s XM Studios aren’t common toys. They price a minimum of S$599 apiece, and a few may even price as much as S$6,000 every.

A few of these sizzling collectibles are identified to promote out inside minutes of their launch.

XM Studios is a high-end toy producer that designs and produces handcrafted, porcelain statues of characters from varied popular culture comedian manufacturers, together with Marvel and DC.

They’re artistic endeavors, as every statue is individually painted by hand.

One may assume that the pandemic might have led to slower gross sales for this firm because of the collectibles’ worth tags. However that’s not the case.

Final 12 months, the corporate’s income doubled to S$16.9 million whereas revenue after tax was S$4.2 million.

Some toy collectible figurines offered by the corporate / Picture Credit score: XM Studios

The agency is rising quick, in all probability supported by collectors with extra disposable revenue as extra do business from home and should not capable of go touring.

Earlier this month, XM Studios raised S$4.5 million in a deal anchored by Temasek’s Heliconia Capital to gasoline growth plans.

The corporate presently has a presence in round 35 markets and employs over 50 employees.

Nevertheless, XM Studio’s journey to get to the place it’s was actually fraught with challenges and obstacles.

We check out how far the founders Ben Ang and his brother Seng have come since they began their enterprise in a humble shophouse at Bras Basah in 1997.

They invested their S$1,000 tuition charges to start out the biz

24 years in the past, the brothers Ben and Seng took a sum of S$1,000 meant for polytechnic college charges and invested it in Xenomorph, a collectibles toy retailer in Bras Basah Advanced.

Ben, who’s presently the CEO of the corporate, was solely 23 years previous on the time. 

Ben (left) in the course of the early years of working the enterprise / Picture Credit score: XM Studios

It was robust beginning out. The founders who’re comedian e book followers struggled to remain afloat firstly. They taught airbrushing workshops, charging S$50 for eight classes to get by.

Nonetheless, that was troublesome for the brothers, who needed to work seven days with out relaxation. 

They drew a low wage of S$600 a month every and solely took a break throughout Chinese language New Yr.

Considering out of the field to outlive

Within the first few early years, Xenomorph had slowly grown right into a household enterprise. The pair’s oldest brother and retired father joined the corporate quickly after, and it was on Ben and Seng to make sure that all mouths had been fed.

At one time, the enterprise even made large-scale fashions for firms like Common Studios on the Resorts World Sentosa theme park.

Nevertheless, these ventures had been to Ben, unsustainable in the long run.

Seng (left) and Ben (proper) / Picture Credit score: XM Studios

That’s as a result of these artists had been getting older and it was turning into bodily taxing to climb up scaffoldings to do upkeep work.

Sooner or later Seng informed Ben that he didn’t thoughts working part-time or turning into a taxi driver within the meantime whereas working the enterprise.

That remark drove Ben to wish to discover options to alter the enterprise mannequin they had been making a dwelling on. He didn’t need his brother who had mastered the artwork of the commerce to not have the ability to utilise his expertise absolutely.

The world of Disney and others

By help from prospects and shoppers, Ben determined to achieve out to large media firms like Disney and Warner Brothers for licensing alternatives. 

Disney owns Marvel Leisure which produces comedian characters like Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, and Wolverine, whereas Warner Brothers owns DC Comics which has comedian characters like Batman, Superman, and Surprise Lady.

Because of the enterprise being small and considerably unknown then, they confronted a number of rejections by the large corporations. Solely in 2013 did they lastly obtain a callback from Disney.

The brothers negotiated with Disney to pay for the licence price in instalments and raised S$50,000 in capital from family and friends.

The funding for the preliminary prototypes and designs was additionally supported by prospects and shoppers.

XM Studio’s Magneto collectible positioned it immediately on collectors’ watchlist / Picture Credit score: XM Studios

XM Studios was launched in 2012 along with their oldest brother Clair and two enterprise companions. However the highway forward nonetheless had obstacles.

In 2014, in the course of the firm’s first exhibiting on the annual Comedian Con conference, individuals commented that the enterprise wouldn’t survive as they had been “unknown” and the way dare they promote collectible figurines at S$800 apiece.

The costs of XM Studios’ collectible figurines had been double the trade customary then.

Nevertheless Ben pressed on in his views and the corporate received its large break when it launched its Magneto collectible in the identical 12 months.

Inside a day of its launch, all 800 items of the mannequin had been offered. 

The intricate detailing and great thing about the piece attracted the curiosity of different firms and franchises.

The newcomer quickly began acquire recognition, profitable awards, and getting presents from franchises to license with them.

Luxurious premium designs 

In the present day, XM Studios has greater than 10 fundamental licences, together with for Batman, Justice League, Star Wars, Mickey & Buddies, and fantasy recreation Dungeons & Dragons.

It’s additionally producing collectibles of iconic Japanese characters from Godzilla, Ultraman, and Sanrio.

XM Studios has since grown to 50 employees with its headquarters in Singapore and operations in China.

It now has a presence in 35 markets worldwide and is claimed to have offered virtually 20,000 collectible figurines final 12 months.

The Singapore enterprise offered virtually 20,000 collectible figurines final 12 months / Picture Credit score: XM Studios

The US and Europe, China, and South-east Asia markets all take up 30 per cent of XM Studio’s income every.

The agency has plans to open experiential idea shops showcasing its collectible figurines, in international locations everywhere in the globe within the subsequent few years.

Covid-19 impression

Nevertheless, the Covid-19 outbreak might put a spanner within the works for its upcoming retail growth plans.

Comedian conventions, for instance, had been cancelled all over the world and that was an vital advertising channels for XM Studios.

XM Studio’s sales space at conventions / Picture Credit score: XM Studios

To avoid the impression brought on by Covid-19, the corporate tailored rapidly to develop its on-line presence by constantly participating with its group via social media channels like Instagram, Twitter, and Weibo. 

Because the pandemic reveals no indicators of abating, the agency is claimed to be additionally venturing into producing podcasts to achieve out to extra prospects.

Newest fundraise to assist enter mass-market toy trade 

Earlier this month, the startup raised S$4.5 million via an providing of tokens on funding platform ADDX, a digital securities platform.

The digital tokens or exchangeable notes raised will probably be utilized by XM Studios to broaden its premium mass collectible enterprise in new markets. 

With this “premium mass market” in thoughts, XM Studios is in talks with its companions to provide you with merchandise at a extra reasonably priced worth vary of S$200 to S$300.

The funds may even help the shopping for of latest mental property licences and be used for normal working capital.

ADDX chief business officer Choo Oi Yee (left) and Ben (proper) / Picture Credit score: XM Studios

The deal was anchored by Heliconia, a Temasek-linked funding agency, with a S$1 million funding. The remainder of the providing, which was subscribed 1.75 occasions, was picked up by ADDX accredited traders.

Ben stated that the fundraising on ADDX was designed to permit fractional entry at a minimal funding of simply S$10,000 as a result of “we needed to supply long-time XM Studios followers with the prospect to participate within the development of the corporate”.

Picture Credit score: XM Studios

XM Studios is about to open its first experiential idea retailer and workplace at Kitchener Advanced in November. The location will span a flooring space of 19,000 sqft.

The corporate has additionally been turning its consideration to women-centric collectibles, following the stronger play on feminine characters like Surprise Lady and Elsa from Frozen. At the moment, nearly all of its prospects are male, at about 95 per cent.

Featured Picture Credit score: The Edge Singapore

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