Many aspiring gamblers around Canary Wharf might dream of a career as a professional poker player.
But for Nick Williamson, it was his loss of interest in the game that led him to found tech start-up Credits.
The company which has offices at Level39 in One Canada Square and on the Isle Of Man supplies a cloud-hosted Blockchain framework to enable organisations or individuals to keep a reliable record of their transactions.
But its 28-year-old founder from St Louis was the first to admit his journey to creating the start-up was far from ordinary.
“I was playing poker professionally at the time,” Nick said. “I started playing online first in 2007, just playing penny stakes for fun.
“Then I started winning money and moving up the stakes. It became a semi-reliable source of income.”
“So I left my job at a hedge fund administration firm to start doing it online full time to build up some savings and pay off some student debt.
“Apart from the fact that I was getting sick of it towards the end, I enjoyed it. But it’s very draining, especially if you’re playing 24 tables at a time like I was.”
Those 24 tables at a time would add up to around 2,000 hands an hour and he would play for three hours a day.
He would then spend another three hours doing the supplementary work like studying the game and figuring out the maths behind it.
“It gives you great flexibility obviously because you can set your hours,” he said.
“But it also gave me the freedom to keep researching the technology behind Blockchain and building these projects and without that freedom, Credits probably wouldn’t exist right now.”
After getting sick of the game in 2009, Nick landed a job at online poker platform Pokerstars and moved to the Isle Of Man where he ran one of the company’s product lines.
This was where Credits began to emerge as he continued to research Blockchain before ultimately creating his company in November 2014.
Two years later, it’s opened an office in Canary Wharf and is pushing the boundaries of what Blockchain can do, primarily focussing on providing for the public sector.
Nick said: “We put out a framework that allows you to not worry about any of the cryptography, the architecture, engineering.
“You just concentrate on your business, deploy that to our platform and our platform takes care of all the cryptographic black magic.”
Some might be flabbergasted by Nick’s decision to ditch the poker world – why would you stop earning money from basically playing a game? But the 28-year-old said running a start-up was not totally dissimilar.
“As a start-up you take on some money and you have to take decisions on how you spend that money,” Nick said.
“In online poker you have a set amount of money in your bankroll and you have to find out how to compete in the marketplace. So there are some parallels.”
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