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Fortnite Inspired This MBA To Launch An Award-Winning NFT Startup

Aws Al-Hasani’s love of video games like Fortnite inspired him to launch an NFT startup, Auxiun, with the help of an MBA degree from John Molson School of Business

Aws Al-Hasani has always harbored a love for video games—but little did he know they would end up inspiring him to launch a business.

Many games give players the chance to purchase virtual items—including weapons, outfits for characters, and even land—but once bought, Aws noticed there was no way to really own a unique item.  

“While I was playing Fortnite, I started thinking about monetization of in-game items,” he recalls. “In that game, you end up spending money on items you can’t re-sell.” 

Aws realized that blockchain technology could be used to mint these items as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs—unique digital assets similar to cryptocurrencies. Today, he’s co-founder of Auxiun, a company doing just that, and winning an innovation competition in the process.    

The MBA program at Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business helped Aws gain the connections and skills he needed to make this vision a reality.


Choosing an entrepreneurial MBA

Aws is a financial planner by training, but he’d always had the itch to expand his remit and run a business of his own. 

He tried entering a few entrepreneurship competitions, but after being knocked back, decided to take a new approach: gaining a deeper understanding of what it takes to run a start-up by going to business school.

When it came to choosing an MBA, Aws was on the lookout for a program that would help him flex his entrepreneurial muscles.

As a Montreal local, he was drawn to the opportunities for entrepreneurs at Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business. The MBA offers many hands-on learning experiences for would-be founders, from electives that see students consult for local start-ups, to pitching competitions on campus. 

Aws was equally drawn to the District 3 (D3) Innovation Hub at Concordia University. The hub offers new entrepreneurs access to resources from office space to expert guidance from faculty.

All these initiatives have added up to John Molson being ranked as number one in Canada for entrepreneurship by the Princeton Review in both 2020 and 2021. 

“There’s more interest among MBA students in launching a business today,” reflects Judy Nagy (right)—a lecturer in management at John Molson with teaching expertise in entrepreneurship.

  4baad7a7d0c89b5e1050a3fc6364362fe5def2f0.png In response, John Molson has developed modules and experiences to ensure these students are equipped with the skills it takes to get a start-up off the ground.

This means offering the right combination of classroom learning and practical experiences. One module spanning this gap is the Concordia Small Business Consulting Bureau, which sees MBAs either shadow a local entrepreneur and develop a growth plan for them to implement, or create a new business plan of their own.

“Students learn about the challenges entrepreneurs face, and see how theories they’ve learned in class play out in the real world,” Judy explains. 

“Whether you want to start a business of your own or work in a big company, entrepreneurship skills can help you.”


Building a company from the ground up

During his own MBA at John Molson, Aws took a business consultation class, which gave him the chance to practice the problem-solving abilities that would serve him well when launching a company. 

He connected with a cryptocurrency trading company in Montreal, running an AI model that tracked the movement of virtual ‘coins’.

“Once I got into it, I really understood how the start-up scene worked,” he reflects. “That gave me the experience and confidence to say, ‘I have an idea, why not jump in?’”

Aws even met his two Auxiun co-founders—CTO Varthini Bhaskaran and CPO Jose Armando Peixoto—in his MBA cohort.

“Everyone in the MBA is really ambitious, so they said ‘let’s try this out,’” Aws notes.

During the MBA, the trio entered a fintech entrepreneurship competition run by accelerator program, Fintech Cadence, at D3. Auxiun won first prize, and with it the assistance of a lawyer to incorporate their business.   

This was a huge win, since pitching the idea of NFTs to investors could be tricky with the tech being so new and relatively unknown.

Although pitching Auxiun has become considerably easier since NFTs emerged into popular media, Aws is convinced that the soft skills he developed in the MBA have been equally helpful when it comes to securing interest in the company.

“When I compare myself before and after the MBA, I tend to communicate better now,” he reflects.


The future of Auxiun

Since its launch in 2020, Auxiun has gone from strength to strength. Although the company’s tech was originally intended just for video games, Aws and the team have been approached by other industries who see value in creating NFTs, including media agencies. 

“We’re also coming up with an art project—rather than having individuals mint their own NFTs, we’ll select great artists and promote and market them at the same time,” Aws says.

The John Molson MBA helped him make this vision a reality—and he has no regrets about taking a chance on becoming an entrepreneur. 

“There’s a sense of pride having built something that’s likely to last,” Aws reflects. “The hi-tech world can be risky, but we’ve been able to position ourselves really well and enter the market early.”

Student Reviews

Concordia University: John Molson School of Business

Anthony

Verified

25/11/2023

On Campus

Educational advancement

My time at Concordia College has been set apart by huge self-awareness. The steady instructors and staff have assisted me with fostering my abilities and information. The college offers a scope of administrations and extracurricular exercises, giving various open doors to understudies to reach out. In general, my involvement with Concordia has been positive and improving.

Student

Verified

16/11/2023

On Campus

My growth

"My time at Concordia University has been marked by significant personal growth. The supportive teachers and staff have helped me to develop my skills and knowledge. The university offers a range of services and extracurricular activities, providing numerous opportunities for students to get involved. Overall, my experience at Concordia has been positive and enriching.

Ashley

Verified

31/10/2023

On Campus

Communications and Culture Studies

I am currently enrolled in my first year in the Communication and Culture studies program. I have met so many incredible people and have already acquired skills that I will serve me in my professional career. The courses are dynamic, engaging and intellectually stimulating. I am happy to be a student at this university and look forward to the next 2 years here!

Student

Verified

11/09/2023

On Campus

Significant advancements

Having attended Concordia University, I can confidently state that I have seen significant advancements in my skills. The faculty and staff demonstrate great thoughtfulness and provide effective support. Additionally, the university offers an abundance of student clubs and services.

Arman

Verified

11/09/2023

On Campus

Master of Quality Systems Engineering

I completed my Master's in Quality Systems Engineering at Concordia University, where I gained a comprehensive understanding of quality management principles and methodologies. The program provided a mix of theoretical knowledge and practical applications, including coursework in statistical process control, Six Sigma, and Lean principles. I engaged in hands-on projects addressing real-world quality challenges, collaborated with experienced faculty, and conducted independent research. This experience has equipped me with the skills and expertise needed to contribute effectively to organizations seeking to enhance their quality control processes and achieve operational excellence.

Amber Lee

Verified

6/09/2023

On Campus

Awesome

The Communication program at Concordia University will prepare you for the future. The program is divided in two blocks: one more theoretical, from which you learn the concept of communications through the perspective of philosophy, history and social studies; another completely hands-on in which you learn how to produce media choosing from three streams; sound, moving images, intermedia. What I love about the communication program at Concordia is that the teachers are clever, up to date, and exited about putting the future in the hands of students. Not only there is so much to learn in the communication program, but there are also so many opportunities!

Student

Verified

3/09/2023

On Campus

Concordia is best

Concordia university is one of the top listed universities not just in Canada but worldwide. The most amazing thing about this university is it is a standalone English speaking university in Montreal that allows non francophone students to enrol and study efficiently. My program is beautifully designed with access to high quality classrooms and faculty members that are available every time to attend your queries. The huge campus of the University including the library allows students to indulge in group work and research programs. The administration staff is super supportive and polite in their conversations. I have had the most amazing experience studying at Concordia so far.

Student

Verified

5/07/2023

On Campus

Entrepreneurship and Marketing

I had the privilege of being a part of Ryerson University's Entrepreneurship and Marketing program, and it was an outstanding experience. The program's curriculum was well-designed, providing a perfect balance of theoretical knowledge and hands-on practical application. The faculty members were highly knowledgeable and supportive, creating an engaging learning environment. The program's emphasis on industry connections and experiential learning opened doors to valuable internships and co-op opportunities. The resources and facilities dedicated to the program were top-notch, allowing me to explore my passion and excel in my studies. I am grateful for the real-world skills and industry connections I gained through the program. Ryerson University's Entrepreneurship and Marketing truly prepared me for a successful career in the business world. I highly recommend this program to anyone looking for a transformative educational experience.

Student

Verified

25/06/2023

Blended

Integrated Student Life

Concordia University has done a fantastic job at providing on-campus activities and workshops for students to feel connected and less lonely in stressful times. My program, Human Relations highlights this perfectly as a human relations student to be able to see the effects these workshops have on our beings and our mental and physical health as well. The student Life at Concordia has allowed our school to feel more like a community than a school.

Dami

Verified

6/03/2024

On Campus

Study review

As a graduate student in the doctoral program in chemical engineering at Concordia University, I would rate the program as highly commendable. Although, the academic experience has been rigorous, challenging, and intellectually stimulating, providing a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of chemical engineering principles. However, my ongoing program has been equally rewarding and has equipped me with the skills and knowledge needed for a successful career in academia and industry.

Student

Verified

7/03/2024

On Campus

Amazing

In general, I love my university. It's a true representation of diversity, with students from all around the world. The system is incredibly organized, with everything functioning seamlessly, from the structure to the services.

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