Hello Expanse Community. In this edition of Behind the Tech, we are featuring Husain Fazel, CEO of Slips, the gaming platform that is making waves.
Husain was born in England and followed the usual student trajectory of completing his GCSE O levels. Technology was always a big part of growing up in a family where his father was always interested in computers. So it was obvious that he chose science and math subjects for his A levels and started to pursue a degree in Electronic Systems Engineering. “I loved the computer science modules but that was that. I couldn’t get myself to complete the course because I thought it did not suit what I intended to do and so I dropped out of University.” While Husain agrees that he doesn’t have a formal educational background in the form of a degree, he was always good at teaching himself whatever he needed to get the job done.
Husain’s love and fascination with computers started when his father introduced him to the enthralling world of computers at the tender age of five. “I was never held back from experimenting on the computer, even though my father got a tad frustrated whenever he had to reinstall something when the experiment, as it often did, went wrong!” Husain had his own computer a few years later and was one of those early kids on the internet. If you search for his name, you will find a few sites with archives of his exploits growing up. Husain was always interested in marrying his technical skills with his inherent entrepreneurial interests. “I love building things – period.”
After dropping out of university, Husain set out to explore a different path. He started a shop selling clothes imported from China. He also raised funds for the St. John Ambulance. He knew he was good with tech but he wanted to hone his skills in other areas and get a varied experience. “I remember dealing with people outside my comfort zone at that time and often I had encounters which scared the hell out of me. But those are the very experiences that helped me grow as a person and sharpen my entrepreneurial instincts.” Eventually he moved to London via short stops in Birmingham and cities in Wales and ended up working in a radio station in deepest darkest Peckham. Then he moved to a games company in the centre of London and has never looked back since. “I got what I was looking for. I was sort of hooked to gaming and I’ve been involved in various entertainment industries ever since.”
Working in the online entertainment industry, Husain got insights that eventually inspired him to create Slips. “My biggest motivation behind creating Slips was the fear of missing out. Everyone and their dog was raising money in ICOs and truthfully they didn’t seem to be making an effort to create something truly valuable. A vague idea, a hastily written whitepaper and a website full of advisors was all they needed.” Husain figured that if he had a good enough idea and even a fraction of the resources other projects were raising, he could build a very successful company.
Husain did find the idea, but sadly, he missed the ICO bus. With the ICO boom fizzling out, Husain decided to build Slips the hard way. The initial challenges were getting people to buy into the idea. They had a team of 8-9 people but one by one they all dropped out as things got real. “We had Kyle making things look like a million bucks and me doing everything else and through real perseverance we managed to get our proof of concept built.”
The best thing to happen next was Expanse. “Kyle mentioned Expanse to me several times, the first time when we were looking for advisors for our project. We had heard of Expanse before and were aware of what the community was doing, so we decided to reach out to them once we had built enough of the concept. Chris was immediately a big fan of ours – he understood gaming so he knew that our idea had serious potential.” That was the beginning of Slip’s association with Expanse.
Husain is full of gratitude for the grant they received from Expanse. “Expanse gave us the money when we needed it the most. Kyle and I were almost out of funding and were considering packing up and folding when we were informed that the grant was approved.” Husain and Kyle used the money to hire freelance developers to take some workload off of them. “Over the next five months we used half the funding on living expenses and the other half on hiring people and paying them slave labour wages,” chuckles Husain. They were able to build a proof-of-concept that looked and felt beautiful and then raise further funding because of the initial leg-up that Expanse gave them. “We’ve come a long way now from Slips getting the grants from Expanse to signing an agreement to work together to leverage the Expanse products and blockchain for the Slips social platform.”
Husain’s biggest regret with regards to Slips was not being able to launch real money bets on Slips in January this year, after doing all the hard development work. “The thing I’m really looking forward to is successfully launching my next concept and having users transact with the token on the dApp.” Husain feels satisfied with what he has built with Slips though he admits he still has a long way to go. “It’s a great feeling when you build something people use and an even better feeling if it leads to other people becoming successful. So whether it’s people making money on my new dApp, EXP holders being rewarded or just the growth of the network, I’m looking forward to seeing the seeds of the project I’m planting today blossom into a beautiful life changing entity in the future. And now that Expanse and Slips have formed a strategic alliance to build the Slips platform with Expanse integration, I can see that dream turning into reality pretty fast.”
On being asked about the daily challenges he faces while working, Husain is quick to point to the two most common frustrations of an entrepreneur – not enough money and not enough time. “Honestly, like every startup, we struggle with cash flow. Until you’re making money, you never feel safe and so that’s our Number One priority right now. I’m going to hold a big celebration on the day that Slips generates its first dollar in revenue!” Other than existential problems with money, Kyle leaving a few months ago left Husain on his own. He agrees that at some point he will have to build a team again to take Slips to the next level. And then there’s the problem of not having enough time. “There’s only 24 hours in a day and I have got to sleep for around 6-8 of them. I’m impatient and just want to get as much done as humanly possible in one day and sometimes I end up in bed unable to sleep because I’m too wired up about what I need to do next.”
So how does Husain seek to overcome these challenges? He says that to raise funds, he has approached many investors and has tried to sell his idea as eloquently as he possibly could and now he just has to be patient and wait for some good news. However, Husain always prepares a contingency in case his A-plan doesn’t work out. “I’m not the sort of person that gives up at the first hurdle.” On creating a team, Husain says that it’s a process that takes its own sweet time. “I’ve interviewed dozens of people to join Slips, but a co-founder is like a wife/husband so I’ve got to get the right people on the team rather than just any sort of people so that part is being overcome a little slower than I would like.” He also believes that once he builds a team, he hopes to spread his workload around. “The minute we finish coding and building our latest product, there will be an ever so brief respite where I can take a breather.”
If you’re curious about what Husain is building on Expanse, read some of their Expanse archives in the Slips Discord. A quick look at the previous newsletters may give you an idea of what they are really building. He requests you to join the Slips Discord channel – https://discord.slips.io – if you are interested in helping him build the next big thing on Expanse.