Timothy Armoo may only be 21 but already seems destined to be a highly successful entrepreneur. He started his first online venture at 14, had another one at 17 and is now establishing himself in the global market with Fanbytes.
Tim’s Fanbytes partner is Ambrose Cooke. They met at the Powerlist Foundation and Deloitte Leadership Programme (PFDLP) in 2013. Ken Olisa, OBE, Chair of the Powerlist Foundation, said to the delegates: “Take advantage of this conference and look to your left and right and the person beside you may be your potential employer and also your potential business partner.”
Tim was to the left of Ambrose who jokes that his first impression was that there was no way they would gel, much less establish a company that since launching in January 2015 has attracted mainstream clients such as Disney, Adidas, GoPro, New Look, Nickelodeon and the celebrated Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho.
Tim was in his gap year when attending the PFDLP and not yet a university under-graduate, but his brightness shone through and he was invited to attend by Veronica Martin, CEO of the Powerlist Foundation. “Tim first made contact with me in 2011 when he was seeking advice about an initiative he was involved in,” she says. “Since then he has remained in touch. He successfully applied to participate in the 2013 Leadership Programme and it is then that he met Ambrose Cooke.”
Tim could only attend for one day because he was already booked for a speaking engagement in France the next day. Nevertheless, he thoroughly enjoyed it. “I just wanted to meet interesting people, with interesting perspectives on things,” he says.
That is certainly true. Tim discovered after that initial meeting that he shared many similarities with Ambrose, including their interests in books, sport and their Ghanaian heritage. In fact, both were reading How to Win Friends and Influence People. “It was very much a fortuitous thing to meet Ambrose,” Tim says.
The Leadership Programme taught Tim the “importance of networking” and he found some of the speakers extremely informative. “Being able to find out about various people in the black community doing quite well in business was inspiring because there aren’t that many out there.”
Edwin Broni-Mensah of Give Me Tap was particularly interested in Tim and Give Me Tap is about to become a Fanbytes client.
Tim’s advice to students considering going on the PFDLP is to look to “developing quality relationships” and not merely just collecting lots of business cards and making superficial contact. He thinks the best way is to target 10-15 contacts and really getting to know who they are and what they are about.
He created Fanbytes because, like many successful entrepreneurs, he saw a void in the market. He spotted that companies generally still spend huge sums on traditional advertising outlets, such as TV, newspapers and radio. Fanbytes creates a more cost-effective way of marketing a brand by reaching the crucial millennial market through social media. Tim also saw that there was an opportunity to market brands through social media stars, many of whom are young vloggers making fortunes on YouTube.
Fanbytes, with the aid of Mitchell Fasanya, its Chief Technical Officer, builds software to optimise sales. Mitchell is taking a computer science degree at Nottingham University. “So far, so good,” says Tim. “We have been relatively successful. A lot of top brands trust us with marketing to their younger audiences. It’s a pretty exciting time.”
Ronaldinho, the former World Footballer of the Year, contracted Fanbytes to promote his line of Segway machines and the campaign was extremely successful, receiving over 1 million views on YouTube.
All this success has led to fabulous media publicity in such publications as Forbes magazine, Daily Mail and The Sun.
Tim expects Fanbytes to turn over a seven-figure sum by the end of next year. “So far, so good.”
Tim was born in the UK, went to live in Accra, Ghana for 10 years and returned to London aged 11. An only child, he feels his bonding with Ambrose is partly because they are the same age and from similar backgrounds. “He’s not just a business partner but like a brother.”
Tim is in the early stages of a computer science degree at Warwick University in Coventry. Ambrose is about to complete his master’s in mechanical engineering at London’s Imperial College.
Tim intends to graduate but admits that Fanbytes’ success may compel him to commit to it full-time soon. “When you get to a position like ours where it’s no longer just a side project and it’s really a company that you have to take on board employees and work with clients paying you big cheques and you have some investors as well, then you have to decide whether to take advantage of the opportunities.”
He lives alone in Elephant & Castle, London and is considering converting his place into a Fanbytes office.
His advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to “optimize your youth” because youngsters tend to have more energy and fewer financial restraints. “I’m also a big fan of reading a lot because people of wisdom have distilled their knowledge into books.”
He also believes that everyone is “making it up as they go along” because those that give the impression they know everything actually don’t and they are learning too. “Everyone hasn’t got it figured out. You then realise that it’s okay to fail at something. Then you can actually start enjoying the journey instead of waking up every day worrying about not knowing what to do.”
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