Get to know Jules Jurado, TOKI Co-Founder and LEGO enthusiast
You’ve probably heard of TOKI, especially if you’re a collector of all things cool—from LEGO to Funko Pop, Pokémon cards and more. Co-founded by Jules Jurado, TOKI is the first social e-commerce platform created by collectors for collectors. Here, people can buy and sell various collectibles with the assurance that the items are authentic and are well taken care of.
In an exclusive one-on-one interview with Wonder, Jules Jurado, TOKI’s Co-Founder and Lego Category Head, reveals how the platform came to be and gushes over his collection. Get to know more about the 31-year-old collector and LEGO enthusiast below.
TOKI Co-founder Jules Jurado with a portion of his collection in the background
Wonder: How would you describe TOKI?
Jules: The platform is really a collectibles marketplace for resellers. It’s a marketplace you go to if you want to ensure that your experience buying collectibles is as safe [and] as simple as it can be. TOKI is the place to be when you want to make sure that when you buy a collectible, you get it the right way, in the right condition and you won’t get scammed.
W: How do you verify and authenticate a product?
J: For each category, we have a verification manual and a verifier at the TOKI hub who’s physically inspecting all products. Based on the process of verification, they tell you whether it’s a pass or a fail. ‘Yun ‘yung unique sa amin (That’s what’s unique to us); we actually check all the items…We make sure na secure ‘yung item and when you open it, you’ll get this card [saying] it’s TOKI-verified.
W: Why is it called TOKI?
J: It’s an interesting story. We were looking for catchy names as a team [and] at some point, TOKI came out because it sounds catchy and it’s still available. Even before that, we checked first if it meant anything in other languages. Sure, it sounds like an interesting brand name, but we also don’t want the interpretation to be wrong if we look at the different markets in Southeast Asia. But what we found out was [that], in Japan, it’s a [term used to denote] a time for opportunity. Whether you’re a collector, buyer or seller, it covers the idea that these are opportunities.
W: What was your lightbulb moment that you realized the need for this platform?
J: So there’s one rule or common ground sa TOKI: we only hire collectors. Kasi kahit kami (Even us), we’re all collectors. Adding [another] layer to that, even before I was [part of] TOKI, I was a reseller of LEGO and I am still a reseller. So around December 2022, we were all talking because we were all [working together for another company]…and what we realized after several different ideas [is that] lahat kami (we’re all) collectors. Every single time we meet, we would talk about the newest item in our collection, whether it’s a LEGO product or a sneaker. Then over time, we were talking about how shitty the experience is.
W: What’s been your shittiest experience as a collector?
J: I bought LEGO from a guy in Pangasinan. He basically showed photos of a massive box tapos sabi niya (and he said), “Okay, I’ll sell this to you for P1,500.” Then nag-video chat pa kami so I thought that it was legit. So I paid and trusted that the item would come to me. It arrived in a pouch [and] when I opened it, it was a mix of both original items and things. So we tried to message the guy…except when we looked at his Facebook profile, we realized that it was a 12-year-old kid. So we were able to contact [his] tito and finally the dad. We were able to get the refund, and we didn’t have to ship the item back but it was a pretty bad experience for everyone.
W: So, how did you start collecting?
J: I’ve been collecting since I was a kid. So my very first collection was really LEGO, and from there, my parents bought us [more] LEGO, Megablocks, etc. I also got into Pokemon and NBA cards as a kid then tuloy-tuloy (it persisted) until high school. Then I stopped collecting for a bit and after college, I restarted again.
Jules with his LEGO collection
W: What are your most prized possessions?
J: Good question! So I have a good mix of collectibles. I have this mechanical keyboard that took me two years to assemble because the parts were impossible to find. I have this Wall-E lego set that I got in LA, five minutes after it got listed on Facebook marketplace. One is a setlist from a secret concert of my favorite band, The National, that I got in Paris the night when Notre-Dame Cathedral was burning. This one is a very rare [Harley Quinn] Lego mini-figure that I got in a set that was worth P12,000; now, this [alone] is worth P16,000. And I have a set of Nintendo stuff but this [Game Boy] is one of the top ones.
Jules’ most prized possessions: A setlist from The National’s Concert at de la Danse in 2019, Wall-E Lego set, Harley Quinn Lego mini-figure, Game Boy Advance and Grid 650 Mechanical Keyboard
W: So one last question, what do you want TOKI to achieve?
J: For me, it’s growing TOKI to be the top-of-mind for any collector, not just in the Philippines but also in the region. And [to] become the number one destination for collectors and become profitable while also doing that—to me that’s the dream.
Copy MJ Viernes
Art Macky Arquilla