I had 3 paper rounds & stacked Tesco shelves after failing school exams… now I’m a millionaire with Netflix & UEFA deals


WITH shelves lined with Star Wars figures, Pokemon characters and cuddly collectibles, many would believe this is the room of a child – not a millionaire businessman.

It’s the home office of Darran Garnham, 46, founder of merchandise company Toikido, which creates toys and collectibles for some of the world’s biggest games.

Darran Garnham, 46, is now a millionaire but used to work for £2-an-hour during his younger years

9

Darran Garnham, 46, is now a millionaire but used to work for £2-an-hour during his younger yearsCredit: Supplied
His company Toikido created Albärt the bear, the official mascot for the 2024 UEFA European Championship

9

His company Toikido created Albärt the bear, the official mascot for the 2024 UEFA European ChampionshipCredit: Reuters

The business, which launched three years ago, even has deals with Netflix and Roblox, and recently created the mascot for UEFA Euro 2024.

Toikido made £4million profit last year alone – an astonishing feat for Darran, whom few would have predicted such success for during his younger “disruptive” years.

Nearly kicked out of school, he was told he wouldn’t “amount to anything” by teachers and flunked his A-levels before becoming a millionaire with a company worth “eight figures”. 

Darran says: “I think we did £12million in revenue last year with £4million profit, which for a team of 13 that is only three years old is good. 

“I’m very proud of what we have made. We’re a punchy little British creative company and I want to see how far we can take it.” 

‘Unlikely to amount to anything’

Darran, from Twickenham, London, believes he is “very lucky” to be where he is today considering his bad behaviour during his earlier years. 

In school, he was forced to sit at the front of the class to prevent him from disrupting other pupils and at the age of eight narrowly avoided being excluded. 

“I was politely asked to leave the school for vandalism and likely sounding off to whoever told me to behave,” he tells us. 

Mischievous Darran was nearly excluded from school at the age of eight

9

Mischievous Darran was nearly excluded from school at the age of eightCredit: Supplied
He explains that it was his mum who convinced the school to give him another chance

9

He explains that it was his mum who convinced the school to give him another chanceCredit: Supplied

“Fortunately my mum spoke to the school and said, ‘Listen, give him another chance’ and they did. It was a big lesson for me.”

Darran struggled academically, which in part was due to having undiagnosed dyslexia and missing lessons while having operations for a hearing problem. 

Teachers had low expectations for his life outside of school, including one who wrote in his school report: “Darran is unlikely to amount to anything.” 

“I didn’t really like school,” he tells us. “It wasn’t really for me and I didn’t excel there. I was always interested in business and learning.

“My dad was a car dealer and used to make me shake hands with whoever he sold a car to, he taught me a lot about business values and work ethic.”

£2-per-hour gig

Darran believes it was his dad who instilled in him the importance of working hard and having an entrepreneurial spirit.

He landed his first job on a paper round at the age of 10 and had several ‘side hustles’ – including flogging his comics on the school playground.

He recalls: “My dad worked days and nights and some Christmases too, he was 100 per cent work ethic. I learned from him and was out there hustling from age 10. 

“At weekends, I would start with three paper rounds. Then I’d come home, look at The Beano and The Dandy comics and re-sticker them ready to sell at school on Monday.

“I’d then go to London Irish down The Avenue, where I worked for £2 an hour collecting glasses and stocking the fires.

Darran worked three paper rounds, was a glass collector and sold comics from the age of 10

9

Darran worked three paper rounds, was a glass collector and sold comics from the age of 10Credit: Supplied

“I was just this zippy little kid whizzing in and out, collecting glasses and washing them ready to go again.

“I liked having my own money. I wasn’t a spender, I preferred to save. I think I liked having the independence and joy that came from money.”

Between part-time work, Darran scraped “average” GCSEs but when it came to his A-levels in biology, chemistry and physics, he struggled.

“I got two U’s – ungraded – which effectively meant I shouldn’t have even turned up,” he said.

It forced him to take a year out to redo his exams, so he worked as a shelf-stacker in Tesco for £5-an-hour, while attending night school to top-up his grades. 

“My parents couldn’t afford to pay for me to do my A-levels again so I had to work for it myself,” Darran explained.

He believes this experience was formative, as he learned how much he loved getting to know people and storytelling – skills he would further hone later in his life as a salesman. 

£3million cheque

After graduating from university with a degree in Sports Science, he says he fell into merchandising by accident because he “needed to pay the rent”.

“Having worked in Tescos, I thought merchandising was how you put things on shelves and how you display boxes,” Darran explains. 

He worked in 4Kids Entertainment’s legal department sorting contracts and invoices until he was offered a role in the sales team.

Darran now works creating and selling merchandise for popular games and films

9

Darran now works creating and selling merchandise for popular games and filmsCredit: Supplied
He's worked on brands including Pokemon, Toy Story and Star Wars

9

He’s worked on brands including Pokemon, Toy Story and Star WarsCredit: Supplied

On Darran’s second day with the team, he realised he made the right decision after seeing a colleague’s royalty cheque – for a whopping £3million.

“They came into the office with champagne and this comedy-sized cheque, it was for millions of pounds,” he recalled. 

“I went home that night and told my mum, ‘It’s alright this industry, I think it may be alright’ and from there I never left.” 

Within a year Darran was managing the Pokemon brand in “30-something countries” and travelling internationally with the job. 

Since then, he’s worked for the likes of Universal Pictures, Mind Candy, MTW Toys and Mediatonic Games.

It allowed him to work on brands including Ice Age, Toy Story, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Cabbage Patch Kids, Jurassic Park, Fast And Furious, Star Wars and Moshi Monsters.

“It’s amazing really,” he says. “If you look at Ninja Turtles, I bought it as a kid and ended up selling it as an adult. These brands have the power to sustain generations.”

Lockdown start-up

For years Darran dreamed of starting his own merchandising company but it wasn’t until the Covid-19 pandemic that he made the decision to break out. 

“I was at home watching what my kids were playing and saw a gap in the market, particularly in gaming,” he says.

“They were really passionate about these games and yet everyone else in the industry was focussing on Fortnite, Mario and Pokemon.

Toikido has recently launched their first game - and sell accompanying merchandise

9

Toikido has recently launched their first game – and sell accompanying merchandiseCredit: SUPPLIED

“There was this whole eco-system of indie games like Gang Beasts that my kids loved yet no one was doing anything about it.”

Darran launched Toikido in September 2020 and in a bid to ensure the start-up’s success says he didn’t take a salary for 14 months.

It seems his early sacrifices paid off as last year alone, they sold 20 million toys in 100 worldwide markets.

An early big success was Among Us, a video game that went viral in lockdown and has sold more than 20million figures in the two years since it launched.

Now Toikido has a deal with Netflix for their animation Back To The Outback and worked with Aardman Animations, the company behind films such as Wallace & Gromit.

The company also created Albärt the mascot and digital games for the UEFA Euro 2024, in Germany, and recently, they launched their first online game Piñata Smashlings, which is on Roblox, and accompanying merchandise.

When asked if he’s a millionaire, Darran tells us: “Yes on paper but I’m overdrawn today, I have three boys who spend half of their life in the fridge and play every sport known to man. 

“I think by my last count there were about 50 pairs of boots downstairs – from cricket spikes to rugby boots, tennis trainers and more.

“I don’t live a millionaire’s lifestyle. I drive an electric VW, so I’m not racing around in a Ferrari or a Lamborghini. ”

He credits creating a “super team” with endless creativity and being able to bring merchandise to market before competitors as part of the company’s success.

Darran says having three kids keeps him grounded... and not living a flashy millionaire lifestyle

9

Darran says having three kids keeps him grounded… and not living a flashy millionaire lifestyleCredit: Supplied

Darran adds: “We’re very lucky, I’ve built this kind of super team where we’re able to keep everything in-house.

“We’ve got this great team together who are all just experts in their own field and we also understand this new space, how to talk to game developers and be very creative.”

Darran says the company’s “secret sauce” is having “enough storytellers to bring kids on the ride with us” – but also credits his own children with giving inspiration on what type of games to work with. 

He says: “I sit with them and ask, ‘If I gave you £20 what clothes or toys would you buy from these games? It’s my own working eco-system.” 

Piñata Smashlings is available to play on Roblox. Collectibles, surprise boxes, playsets and plushies from the game can be bought in Smyths and The Entertainer. Find out more about Toikido’s work here.





Source link

spot_imgspot_img

Subscribe

Related articles

spot_imgspot_img

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here