‘Wise up or go home.’ That’s Timothy Armoo’s emphatic message to traditional agencies that don’t have a ‘Gen Z’ attitude.
Armoo, who likes to be known as Timo, is the 24-year-old CEO at Fanbytes, which has built a global network of the social communities and influencers that clock up 110 million daily views to help brands stay relevant to Generation Z.
The entrepreneur explained: “In the company we talk about advertainment, which is where advertising meets entertainment. That’s the mindset that branding agencies have to have.
“Don’t measure campaigns on impressions alone. It’s about how young people engage with it and the emotional engagement.
“We think it’s possible for there to be a company that is solely led by Gen Z. Generation Z are critical. It you want to communicate with Gen Z then you need to get Gen Z to create the content.”
Generation Z is defined as the group of people after the Millennials and are usually born between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s. Most of Gen Z have used the internet since a young age and are confident with technology and social media.
Last week it was announced that Manchester-based KM Capital had invested a significant six-figure sum into three London-based tech start-ups, including Fanbytes.
The fund’s CEO is Adam Kamani and Armoo said it was a great opportunity to work with the Kamani family, which has created social-first companies like boohoo and PrettyLittleThing. “We can help each other,” he told BusinessCloud.
Armoo was born in Hackney but went to live with his grandmother in Ghana until the age of 11 when his eye for business came to the fore.
At the age of 14 he made a bet with a friend that he could make £500 before he was 18 and launched a tutoring service which shared revision tips.
“£500 to a 14-year-old was a lot of money,” he said. “This whole entrepreneur thing was an opportunity not to be poor as much as it was about making money.”
He taught himself how to build a website and created the Alpha Tutoring webpage. After making between £5,000-£10,000 he won a subsidised scholarship to Christ’s Hospital boarding school.
Although he says boarding school wasn’t for him he quickly launched his next business – online magazine and media company Entrepreneur Express, and got to interview the likes of Sir Richard Branson, Sir Alan Sugar and former Dragon James Caan.
“If you asked people what sort of businessperson I would be like they’d probably say Sir Alan Sugar but the one I liked the most was Sir Richard Branson,” he recalled. “He was a showman and a businessman.
“I learnt a lot about marketing. Marketing is about giving people a reason to bring them over to you.”
Armoo recognised the power of social media and collaborated with big brands to drive traffic to his own company.
The Facebook communities he built up attracted the interest of a large US media company called Horizon Media, which bought the business for £100,000 including an earn-out.
He went to study philosophy at the University of Warwick but switched after his first year to computer science.
“I realised if I wanted to scale a business it would be through technology,” he said. “I’d already learnt to code a bit but by switching to computer science I could increase my hard skills.”
It was during his second year at university that the idea for Fanbytes was born. The idea was to connect social influencers in Generation Z with advertisers.
“Brands come to us and they want a creative piece of content,” he said. “We use a network of computer designers and videographers to create content which is then distributed through their community of influencers.
“It took off pretty quickly. If you want to reach 17- or 18-year-olds, get 17- or 18-year-olds to create the content. People were fed-up of agencies producing the same stuff.”
Fanbytes is based near Shoreditch and employs 30 people. It’s now turning over seven figures and has worked with leading brands including Snapchat, New Look, Disney, Universal and Warner Music Group.