Josh Fabian is the co-founder and CEO of Pittsburgh-based Metafy, an online platform where amateur video gamers pay for coaching sessions with some of the world’s top players. The company, founded in 2020, was inspired by Fabian’s kids’ love for video games, an art he proudly said they got from him.
“And they were into a Pokemon trading card game. I was so excited when they got into it for us, because the first thing I thought was, here’s my chance to ball with my kids, right? What I didn’t anticipate was them thinking I’m just my kids’ dumb dad,” he told Forbes.
He reached out to one of the best players in the world and asked him to teach his kids which he obliged for a fee: $20 an hour, which was less than Fabian paid for his babysitter. Fabian further asked the player if he was doing it for a living. “No, I wish,” he responded. “I’m making minimum wage working in a warehouse.” That is how Fabian saw an opportunity to make money out of video games as a side hustle.
Fabian launched his company at the height of the pandemic when most people around the world were in lockdown and mostly went online to engage their friends, join TikTok or even play online games. According to him, over 50,000 users and coaches have joined his platform, including top-ranked online gamers.
Since launching Metafy in 2020, Fabian said he has raised nearly $34 million from investors and was valued at $105 million in February. Also, the company has 60 employees.
His journey toward becoming an entrepreneur started in a small rural town of Derry in the farmlands of western Pennsylvania where he was adopted by a white family. His biological mother was a sex worker and a drug addict so Fabian was born addicted to meth and ketamine.
Everywhere he went, he felt unwelcome due to the color of his skin and he had to always prove himself before he got accepted which made him feel inferior.
“And I spent so much of my life feeling angry, truly angry,” he told Forbes. “Maybe my mother made a decision that she thought was the best for me, but it left me feeling unwanted and not fitting in because I was the only brown kid in town. My darling [adoptive] parents did their best, but it was an unhealthy environment.”
According to CNBC Make It, Fabian emancipated himself from his adoptive parents when he was 16. He subsequently dropped out of high school after becoming a father at the age of 20 while living on food stamps with his then-girlfriend.
He self-taught himself how to code and made a career out of designing small websites for about $100 per job. He subsequently refined his skills by going for a three-month coding course in Chicago, which led to a web designer job with social marketplace startup Obaz in 2012.
He left the company after three years to focus on his passion — gaming, resulting in the founding of Metafy.