Playing The Long Game: Vurse Founder Shadman Sakib The founder of Vurse is tapping into opportunities hitherto unexplored by the global tech landscape.
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"In Dubai, it is as if we are living inside a metaverse, and although I had come for only 12 days on my first trip here, it did not take me long to understand that Dubai will become the next Silicon Valley," says Shadman Sakib, founder of Vurse, a Dubai-based venture developing cutting-edge technologies. "I knew that this should become my life, so I set up my company in Dubai in December 2021." And just like that, Sakib turned Dubai from a vacation destination into a base for his future life and business activities.
It was thus from his office in the Emirate that Sakib and I engaged in a conversation about what he has got up to with Vurse, and quite quickly I realize that he is the type of an entrepreneur who talks about his plans only in whispers, and then lets them speak for themselves when they materialize in the real world. But it is also clear that Sakib believes that he is working on something that's set to make its impact felt -in a big way- on the world at large, and, as such, the rest of us can get ready for that celebratory moment by learning as much about Vurse as we can at the moment.
Vurse currently counts 35 people as team members and Sakib aims to grow it into having a 5,000 - strong team in Dubai over the next five years. His Dubai-focused plans have been boosted also by the announcement of the Dubai Metaverse Strategy, which is designed to ensure that the contribution of the metaverse sector to the Emirate's economy increases to US$4 billion by 2030. "Because Dubai is already known for its beautiful infrastructure, I think it's time for it to be known for its digital vision and cutting edge deep-tech sector too," Sakib says.
The Emirate's history seems to have also inspired Sakib's philosophy for his business, in that he is eager to give it strong foundations that are expected to both empower and uphold its digital development in the future. This is especially evident through Sakib's choice to simultaneously work on the three verticals of Vurse, which include an interactive short video platform, a blockchain-based ecosystem for content creators, and a Vurse metaverse. Starting with the Vurse short video platform, Sakib says that its key differentiator lies in the fact that it is not focused on user consumption, but user interaction. "One of our key drivers is to enable young people to make smarter choices in the way they interact with and consume content," he says. "What I see today is that people's consumption of social media is not correlated with the quality of the content or the value they can drive out of their time on it. With Vurse, we're also trying to enhance the creators' experience by supporting them in producing content that is intellectually stimulating, entertaining, and driving economic value. Once that happens, consumption will happen organically."
Meanwhile, for Vurse's blockchain arm, Sakib has walked an extra mile in order to make a shift in the content creator economy. "Leveraging the blockchain technology, we are decentralizing the core foundation that exists for content creators, because we believe that they are the future driver of marketing," he explains. "So, what we're trying to do is to use technologies like Web3 and blockchain to enhance the interaction with the content they create and the transparency around the economies of VURSE community and hence the overall experience. We believe that they will feel the excitement and motivation to do what they do."
Last but not the least are Sakib's plans to build a completely new and independent metaverse for the Vurse community and essentially the world. "Since the metaverse is like the future version of the internet, I believe that this is where the entire world is going to shift to eventually, and so, we're building our own ecosystem," he says. "So, once that happens, not even the sky is the limit. At Vurse, we are very excited to see where we'll go."
At this point, it becomes clear why Sakib will need to hire thousands of skilled tech talents to work on his three grandiose projects, but that in itself sounds as a task hard enough, keeping in mind the current state of the blockchain technology. "People who work with this technology and have gathered experience that matters are actually very few," Sakib agrees. "For Vurse, we brought people from 12 countries here to Dubai to complement our global team. At the same time, we maintain a fun and open culture. We are all fun-loving, so we try to keep our work and entertainment all in one place, and that helps with recruiting the best. And for other entrepreneurs also seeking to recruit such talent, my advice would be to make sure you present your vision to them, and if they are aligned with that, they will jump on board, because the most talented people in the world are never actually driven by monetary factors."
Sakib's plans for his enterprise have also recently got a shot in the arm thanks to investors who did not hesitate to put their funds into Vurse. "We recently closed one funding round, where we invested ourselves, along with other institutional investors who previously invested in other decentralized technology platforms and reputed companies," he says. "For our next round, we aim to raise US$1 billion, because our plan is to grow as quickly as possible, blossom as fast as possible, and show people something that will wow their mind."
Sakib adds here that raising funds, according to him, is all about maintaining relationships. "The best way to raise funds is not to work on raising it at all, so don't ask for money, but instead, show your vision, and motivate the investors, because, at the end of the day, investors are people like you and me, and they would also like to understand what the vision is," he says. "Most importantly, when you want to build a company at a global scale, you want investors who have the same mindset as you, and who hold a long-term vision, because patience goes a long way. It's not like we can get a return on our investment tomorrow; no, it's a long run."
Mass blockchain adoption might follow the opposite trajectory, Sakib added, in that it will happen sooner than we expect. "Blockchain is an emerging technology, and people are getting more serious about it, because those younger generations are very tech and business savvy," he says. "If you ask them about tokens or coins, they will give you all sorts of ideas, so I can say that adoption is happening at a very rapid pace and will accelerate even more." The missing part, according to Sakib, is creating blockchain technology solutions "that can be used even by a five-year-old, and that can be explained in like two sentences, literally."
But Sakib adds that he believes this will happen sooner than later. "We are coming closer to this and that is why, in my opinion, this period is a great time to invest. Let's not look at what happened before, but let's look at what's going to happen in the future, because that's where we are going to live," Sakib concludes.
'Trep Talk: Vurse founder Shadman Sakib's tips for entrepreneurs
BUILD THE UNBUILDABLE "Try to build something that's like impossible to build."
PATIENCE IS KEY "Play the long game, not the short game."
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH THE BEST "Hire in a way that the next one is better than the last one, but build a family."