CEO Insights: Ayman Abdallah, One & Zeros

Hirect
7 min readMar 29, 2022

‘Impossible’ isn’t in Ayman Abdallah’s vocabulary; in fact, it isn’t even on his radar. It wasn’t gnawing at him when he began to teach himself how to code at 13, or when he founded his first iOS production studio just three years later. It certainly wasn’t whispering in his ear when he dropped out of college after one month, or when he bootstrapped One & Zeros, his latest software development company hyper-focused on blockchain and Web3 applications.

“The word ‘impossible’ is a religion — you either believe in it or you don’t,” said Abdallah, the founder and head manager of the Chicago-based record label for tech, as he succinctly describes his company. “When the leader believes in the word ‘impossible,’ that’s when the team believes in the word ‘impossible’ as well. You have to have so much faith in yourself, you have to have faith you’ll get this crazy idea done.”

And crazy ideas he’s had in spades — apps that amalgamate all social channels into a single feed, apps that control a phone’s flashlight with just the wave of a hand, even prank apps, like 3way, that force any two numbers globally to call each other. Anything Abdallah dreamed, he created.

“In my basement I had a vision board, and it was to make the iOS top charts, and, you know, one of the apps actually hit the top charts so I could check that off,” he laughed. “So, yeah, I was just a kid making apps.”

The genesis behind Abdallah’s innate curiosity was none other than Mr. Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. Well, more accurately, it was the film about Zuckerberg’s meteoric rise to tech behemoth that truly flipped a switch for him.

“I remember watching The Social Network as a kid, and right after I saw that, I went on Codecademy and immediately started learning HTML and CSS; I believe I was 13 or 14 at that time,” he said, adding that same year he built his first rudimentary social media site.

As he transitioned into high school, Abdallah’s typically straight A grades began to dip. By 16, he’d already established Boost Studios, which was becoming highly profitable, and more of his time was committed to real work than homework. This distraction, along with newfound financial independence and resources to fund things like trips and gadgets, caused both angst and confusion for his parents.

“After high school ended, I was making a substantial amount yearly from my Boost Studios salary,” he said, adding he and his partners had created north of 800 apps. “My mom is very cultured, she wanted me to go to college, get an education because she never had an opportunity to get an education. My sisters, again, they went to good colleges; one of my sisters is becoming a lawyer, one’s becoming a doctor. Me, I had a lot of pressure being the middle child thinking I don’t know what to do because I love what I’m doing right now, I’m making money from what I’m doing right now, I can support myself. Do I go to college because I cannot do both?”

To help ease some of this parental pressure, he enrolled in Moraine Valley Community College. A grueling month later, he dropped out under the agreement that if he could pursue software development full-time for one year and earn $200,000, he could forgo traditional education. He surpassed that goal in less than six months.

“That’s how everything got started, that’s how I jumped into iOS apps and started pushing out products,” he chuckled, adding when the pandemic hit, his parents truly understood for the first time just how indispensable his skills and passion for tech was. “I was just in love with the market and the network inside the market as well. I just loved the rush that you get when you release a product and then you’re checking the analytics, seeing what you can improve on, etcetera.”

With the profits earned from Boost Studios and additional capital from other successful apps, Abdallah self-funded One & Zeros last summer with the goal of simplifying tech and making Web3 more accessible to everyone, particularly younger generations.

“We see a really insignificant growth in the Gen Z audience, high school audience in Web3,” he said. “Why? It’s because it’s mad complicated. People don’t really understand why Web3 is the next internet, why it’s beneficial, why it’s really cool to use.”

“There hasn’t been tools or applications that make Web3 easy to read and use,” he continued. “There’s no cryptocurrency wallet app where I can search other people’s wallets, etcetera. The tech is amazing, but it’s not being utilized in a sensible fashion.”

Through One & Zeros, Abdallah and his team are rolling out several products to support other developers as they create their own Web3 apps, such as innovative UI tools and, eventually, a simplified, single-point Non-Fungible Token (NFT) Application Programming Interface (API).

“In Web3 there are multiple chains,” he explained. “There’s an Ethereum chain where there are Ethereum NFTs, there are Polygon chains, there’s a Solana chain, etcetera. It’s completely scattered around; it’s just inefficient. Web3 should be easy to use.”

Amazingly, Abdallah added there isn’t even a search engine for Web3 yet, further emphasizing the deep frustration in the developer community that their current toolbox has yet to catch up with the platform’s vision and technology.

“The tools in Web3 right now — Alchemy, Infura — these tools big Web3 companies provide are tools to make your tools,” he added. “They’re tools to make your hammer. It shouldn’t be like that. You should have the hammer to start production, start developing, testing without having so much knowledge of chains, etcetera.”

In mid-March, One & Zeros officially launched the light version of their flagship Web3 product, Galleria, an intuitive, Instagram-esque, social metaverse that makes the blockchain digestible for even the most novice users. A blockchain browser, Galleria allows users to create and manage a wallet and profile, uncover new NFT releases/collections, track marketplace activity, and browse wallets of celebrities, influencers, and top collection artists like Jay-Z and Gary Vaynerchuck (or Gary Vee), whose wallet is worth an astounding $184 million. Abdallah said they’re close to approval from Apple to integrate other key functions, like the ability to purchase NFTs and support cryptocurrency transactions in-app without the need for third-party wallets.

“What we’ve been doing in this office, the tools we’ve been working on, the applications we’ve been doing, it’s been, honestly — I know this is a Jurassic comparison — but comparing to billion-dollar companies and what they have produced and what we are producing is honestly either on the same level or even higher,” he said. “I know that sounds really crazy, but you’ll have to wait to see what we’re pushing out.”

Key to the launch of Galleria was One & Zeros’ back-end developer, who Abdallah found and hired through Hirect after discovering the app through an App Store search.

“I truly actually like the product, the product is genius,” he shared. “Hiring people should not be so complicated, you shouldn’t wait so long, and making a job listing shouldn’t be that complicated either, you know? Hirect was perfect, especially, again, for my demographic it was just like IG [Instagram], I’m just DMing people but DMing people to get an interview, to see how they’re doing for the first three days and then hire them off the bat. To be honest, without Hirect, there wouldn’t be a Galleria because of [the back-end developer].”

Abdallah explained for young founders like him, Hirect was an ideal tool to find key talent quickly and efficiently versus traditional hiring platforms, and when it comes time to scale his team further, it will again be his go-to solution.

“Hirect was the perfect application for founders like me specifically,” he elaborated. “Why? It’s because us, in my age group, we barely use LinkedIn. I have a LinkedIn just for the older demographic to find me, connect on me, whatever, but Hirect was literally the best thing that I could ever use. It’s because the flow of it, and using it, was just — it was almost like made for me.”

Like any young founder, Abdallah has navigated a steep learning curve that comes with embracing a leadership role — managing stress, finances, interpersonal challenges, and the multitude of responsibilities that come with establishing a profitable company. But with so much promise and opportunity on the horizon in the Web3 space, Abdallah knows One & Zeros will go as far as he believes it can.

“The hardest thing to be honest though is believing in myself because I’m the only one who believes in myself,” he said. “I don’t have VC funding; I never went to reach out to VC funding. I just have to believe in myself, have to believe in the work that I do, and the most important thing is your employees, your contractors, whoever it is, they won’t believe they can get this crazy thing done if the leader does not believe in it.”

To learn more about One & Zeros, contact them online, email hello@oneandzeros.co, or follow them on LinkedIn. To see what other innovative founders are finding talent on Hirect, download the app on the App Store or on Google Play.

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