Building brands at the speed of culture

Darran Garnham is on a mission to build “remarkable” brands that provoke excitement, emotion, and attention

Darran Garnham

As the founder and CEO of Toikido, Garnham is disrupting the $100 billion toy and $200 billion gaming industries by moving at the “speed of culture” to translate digital trends into physical products and experiences.

After over two decades in merchandising, licensing, and retail working with global brands like Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokémon, Nintendo, and Moshi Monsters, Garnham grew frustrated with the glacial pace of traditional toy development cycles. He founded Toikido in 2020 with the goal of spotting trends early, acquiring rights quickly, and sprinting products to market to meet kids’ rapidly evolving play patterns.

Garnham credits his diverse career background with giving him the experience and network to execute this vision. 

“Having sat in retail, agent, licensor, licensee and manufacturing I have an industry wide view on how to execute and maximise opportunities, which underpins what we deliver through Toikido,” he explains.

This bird’s eye perspective allows Toikido to pinpoint whitespace opportunities and assemble custom strategies for each brand. 

“We don’t have a menu of ‘offerings’ or ‘one size fits all approach’,” he says. “We do what’s right for the brand and the founder’s vision.”

For gaming brands, that might mean translating virtual worlds into physical toys, merchandise, and live promotions. For entertainment franchises, it could mean developing products and experiences that extend storylines and deepen fan engagement.

Garnham moves swiftly once an opportunity is identified, leaning on his all-star team of industry veterans. “Our commercial secret really is speed, where we recently went from signing a deal to launching product on shelf within five months,” he says. “This is incredible when you consider that we operate in an industry where signing a contract within that five month timeframe would be an achievement.”

This urgency requires trust, communication, and a shared vision, which Garnham fosters through Toikido’s flat structure and inclusive culture. “We have a fairly flat structure. We look out for and support each other,” he explains. “We don’t have age barriers to entry at any level.”

Garnham credits Toikido’s early wins to “action” over strategy. “In business it is easy to get lost in the weeds – but from day one, I’ve always aimed big and bold and focused on getting the right things done,” he reflects. This bias toward momentum has driven over $1 billion in retail sales across 100+ countries for Toikido’s partners already.

The rapid expansion hasn’t been without growing pains, but Garnham takes lessons in his stride. “I’m a big believer in everything being part of education – albeit sometimes an expensive one,” he says. When the pandemic, supply chain issues, and geopolitical conflicts threatened progress, the team doubled down. “‘When the strong wind blows, you can hunker down…or build a windmill,’” he quotes.

He applies this “no excuses” mentality to his own development as well. “Ask questions, don’t try and be the smartest person in the room, listen and learn from others,” is his advice.

He is most proud of the team Toikido has built and the belief it inspires from partners. “We have now launched products and brands in over one hundred countries, bringing millions in revenue into Toikido and to our partners,” he says. “Our success is everyone’s success – we are a team.”

This is just the beginning according to Garnham, who says Toikido is “still only jogging” despite its sprint-paced progress. The company plans to continue expanding its gaming portfolio and pursue new entertainment partnerships.

“Our mission is to not be the biggest or even best, but we do want to be the most remarkable – the ones your kids nag you about. “To achieve that aim, we need to invest further into the gaming space as that’s where kids are increasingly paying most attention.”

With remarkable brands, remarkable people, and relentless drive, Garnham is poised to make Toikido a name that gaming and toy enthusiasts across generations will remember.

Ronnie Dungan
Ronnie Dungan

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