Monday, December 11, 2023

4 ex-GCash execs form startup catering to collectibles

Four former employees of wallet firm GCash have banded together to launch Toki, which is said to be the first-ever social commerce platform in the Philippines exclusively dedicated to collectibles.

The founders of Toki — Zoe Ocampo, Jules Jurado, Prabh Singh, and Frederic Levy — do not only share a common passion for collecting but are also former executives of GCash.

“We at the Toki team are all passionate collectors ourselves,” shared Ocampo.

“For so long, the process of searching for collectibles and purchasing an item hasn’t been ideal. Usually, we start the journey with social networks or messaging applications, and from there, one has to sift through at least 10 different sellers, unsure of the credibility and authenticity of their products. It has been consistently tedious and filled with unnecessary friction.”

For its launch, Toki will feature first four categories — Sneakers, LEGO, NBA Cards, and Funko Pops! — some of the most popular collectibles in the market.

According to a study conducted by Toki and GMO Research, the Philippine market for collectibles is currently valued at $5 billion.

Despite this sizable number, buyers and sellers still find themselves navigating an unsecured and convoluted trading journey, without a dedicated marketplace to seamlessly facilitate transactions. To date, collectors traverse the buying process — from discovery to purchase — in a fragmented manner.

Aside from proposing a digital marketplace, Toki is also a livestream auction platform, harnessing the power of real-time engagement to enhance the collectibles trading experience.

Ensuring a straightforward and seamless end-to-end journey for sellers is also why Toki has partnered with GCash and NinjaVan to structure and create tailored solutions.

“A well-organized, responsible, and trustworthy seller is an essential element for a successful buying experience,” said Jurado.

“Toki aims to address this by ensuring that its marketplace only hosts sellers who have successfully passed our selection and scoring system and that all products are checked by the Toki verification team, so there would be no question whether the product you’re getting is genuine and from a reliable source.”

Toki’s approach to the digital collector’s market has gained support from top-tier angel investors and notable strategic backers such as Anthony Oundjian of BCG, Brian Cu of SariSuki, Ernest Cu of Globe, venture capital firms Kaya Founders and Foxmont Capital Partners, and Bigboy Cheng, one of the most famous sneaker, toys and art collectors in South East Asia.

“We are seeing an opportunity to build a connected collectible ecosystem,” said Levy, CEO of Toki.

“We engage extensively with various collector communities, groups of enthusiasts like us. As we continue to expand to include more categories, it becomes increasingly apparent that the marketplace is just the inception of what Toki has to offer. We are already working on several initiatives to continue fueling the passion of all collector communities, first in the Philippines, and potentially in new markets across the region.”


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