How Metafy founder Josh Fabian caught the attention of 776 by building in public

In over a decade of investing in startups, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian has only once offered to fund a founder on the spot. That founder was Josh Fabian, CEO of Metafy, a video game coaching platform.

“We were able to just engage and talk like humans, and Josh told us his story in a very different way,” said Katelin Holloway, a founding partner at 776, where Ohanian is general partner. “Not only was it incredibly compelling from a business perspective, it was incredibly compelling from a human perspective.”

As Fabian explained at TechCrunch Disrupt, Metafy has a pretty fun founding story. Once a competitive Yu-Gi-Oh player in his childhood, Fabian was working as a lead designer at Groupon when he became obsessed with mobile gaming.

“I would spend my bathroom breaks very productively playing a game called Clash Royale,” Fabian said. He eventually became one of the top 20 players in the world and streamed for up to 4,000 viewers on a daily basis, but he wasn’t making much money — that is, until fans started asking him to pay him for private coaching. In just six months, he made $40,000.

When Fabian’s children wanted to get better at the Pokémon Trading Card game, he hired one of the best players in the world.

“He offered to teach them for $20 an hour, which is less than what we pay our babysitter,” Fabian remembered. He said he asked the player if he did Pokémon full time, but the player said he worked a minimum wage job at a warehouse. That got Fabian thinking about building a business to let people in similar situations make a living off their gaming expertise.

This past February, Metafy raised a $25 million Series A round, co-led by 776 and Tiger Global.

Building in public