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Something Ventured: One Year Later: Metafy CEO Sees A Lot Of Changes, Including Becoming A Better Leader

Josh Fabian of Metafy

Editor’s note: This is part of Something Ventured, a series started a year ago by Crunchbase News examining diversity and access to capital in the venture-backed startup ecosystem.

One year ago, Josh Fabian’s Metafy had just closed a $5.5 million seed extension and the company was seeing significant growth for not even being a year old.

However, Fabian still had doubts—not about his company, but rather concerns that cut much deeper.

“I’ve always had this feeling of ‘I don’t know what the (expletive) I’m doing,’” said Fabian, reflecting on what he’s learned in the last year being part of the Something Ventured project. “But in the last year, I’ve become OK with that.

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“I realize no one knows,” he continued. “We all have ideas, but no one really knows.”

In the last year, Fabian guided Metafy—a platform that enables online gamers to monetize their talent through one-on-one coaching and courses— to a $25 million Series A at a $105 million valuation and $1 million in gross merchandise volume (GMV). This year, the company expects that will increase to between $5 million and $10 million.

“I don’t need to be the smartest guy in the room,” he said. “I’m OK with that. I just need to enable this team I’ve helped create guide this company.”

Finding clarity

Coming to that understanding helped Fabian uncover his purpose.

“I think the biggest thing I’ve found in the last year is clarity,” he said. “Once you have that, you can be more ambitious.”

Thanks to that clarity, the idea of Metafy is much bigger than it was when he founded the company just 18 months ago, Fabian said.

And he was helped along by a somewhat unlikely group of people—at least in Fabian’s mind.

“As much as I talk shit about investors, many of the ones we’ve brought in have been instrumental in my growth,” Fabian said.

From studying other executives to taking leadership training courses, Fabian said he learned valuable lessons and is learning how to lead intuitively.

“I’ve learned that what you give attention to is what you become,” he said.

Life changes

While he gained experience and wisdom in the last year, he’s also lost some.

“This has aged me a lot,” he said. “I have wrinkles, there’s gray in my beard. A day can feel like a year.”

But he cares less about the personal impact.. Last September, Fabian decided to move from Pittsburgh to New York for about three weeks a month to concentrate on the business. This also meant he moved away from his four kids still in Pittsburgh to concentrate on the business.

“People have told me—people I respect—that I’m a terrible father and that really has weighed on me,” Fabian said. “They say I’m being selfish or I care about money. It’s not about the money…it’s about the sense of purpose.

“What I’m doing now is what I was born to do,” he said. “I want (those people) to understand that.”

Fabian says moving away from his children is one of the most difficult decisions he made as a founder. However, he senses that his kids understand. His oldest son —12 years old— has even taken an interest in Metafy.

“I talk to him about what’s going on,” he said. “We’ve even talked about M&A.

“I think my kids get it,” Fabian adds.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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