Fanbytes founder: I was right about Vine closing, and reckon Twitter will go same way
8 min read
02 February 2017
Timothy Armoo has a world domination mission for his Snapchat-based advertising business Fanbytes, which the 21-year-old serial entrepreneur and computer scientist will achieve by fending off the competition – “old people”.
We went out for a cruise with the Fanbytes CEO and co-founder as part of our first Black Cab Entrepreneurs interview of the year, and it proved to be most illuminating.
Despite barely entering his twenties, Armoo has been an entrepreneur for seven years, having founded his first business at just 14. The tutoring enterprise was launched on the back of a bet with a friend, who claimed Armoo wouldn’t be able to earn £500 before he was 18.
“At 14, given the concept of £500 and what it could do, he might as well have said £50m. I took on the bet and decided to work with what I knew and I decided to tutor people maths,” the Fanbytes CEO recalled.
“That scaled and I connected tutors and students. Eventually I built up the company and that went fairly well, but then people started going behind my back, so that collapsed the business.”
His second venture was an online business title attracting the advertising spend of law and accountancy firms, which piqued the interest of a US publisher, resulting in the digital title going from launch to acquisition in 11 months.
When Fanbytes was launched on 1 January 2015, Armoo was just 19. “Fanbytes is a video ad network for Snapchat. We help brands do everything from content creation to distribution, to analytics behind Snapchat campaigns to engage with a younger audience,” he said.
YouTube and Instagram were part of the product proposition in the beginning – the main focus, in fact. However, Armoo and his co-founders decided that Snapchat should be the priority.
“We think the future of advertising will be more focused on engagement than reach. If this is the case, the number one platform for engagement is easily Snapchat,” he explained.
“As the world moves forward, a lot of brands want mobile video. Video is exploding and the younger generation use their phones as their gateway to the world. So if we can help brands reach those people on their phones, with the most engaged medium out there – video – then a culmination of those two for me says we’re doing something right.”
Speaking of video, find out more about Armoo in our Black Cab Entrepreneur video below:
Interestingly, Vine was also offered initially, but Armoo foresaw Vine closing down and it was scrapped within a week.
“When Vine eventually said it was closing, that was blindingly obvious to me. Vine was a strange one because there was no such thing as Vine. Vine was where content was created but distributed elsewhere. A lot of top memes and six-second videos were found on Facebook, Twitter and all these places, rather than Vine is the place you come for all the stuff,” Armoo said.
“And because you didn’t have substance or level of identity, it was glaringly obvious, and I’m surprised they were able to hold on for that long.”
He warned that Vine parent company Twitter is at risk of collapse and predicted a similar downfall.
“I think Twitter will go the same way as Vine and die in the next three or four years. Although there is a sense of walled garden, there’s still this sense of there isn’t an identity there. That’s my prediction – in three or four years you can come back and say that I was right,” he said.
Fanbytes has clients including the likes of Nickelodeon and Adidas, but how does a young business with young founders secure the business of global giants?
Armoo said it was the combination of being a data-driven business, with founders that know their craft.
“I’m a computer scientist by training, my co-founder is a mechanical engineer from Imperial and my other co-founder sold a data analytics company for six figures when he was 19. This core focus on tech was really good for us,” he detailed.
“Also we’re a young team, a lot of companies we may compete with are made of old people. So when you go to the head of marketing at Adidas or GoPro and say ‘you want to target a 19-21 year-olds, we are 19-21 year-olds – we know what works,’ that’s a compelling proposition.”
Three rounds of funding from angels have been secured so far in order to scale quickly. And while the initial pitching process to win company meant Armoo had to go into the minutiae of the Fanbytes and Snapchat to help understanding, it also taught him how to break things down into a simpler way for clients.
“The relationship with investors is very cool. They’re very much like, you’ve shown you can make this work, here is some gas to pour on the fire,” he said.
“Snapchat works so well for marketing because people can put on the filter, look cool or funny, send it to friends and it has a ripple effect. A lot of influencer marketing is just hitting you with the same message again and again, here and there.
“You can reach five billion people, but if you’re just hitting people over the head with a stick, it doesn’t leave you with a really good relationship. It’s better to focus on a smaller segment of people, go deeper and get engaged.”
An example of influencer marketing at its worst was witnessed when Scott Disick, famed for his association with the Kardashians, promoted a weight loss company’s product on Instagram – by copying and pasting the firm’s instructions word for word into the caption.
In which Scott Disick copied and pasted the email from the skinny tea marketing team onto his Instagram caption pic.twitter.com/ocVdxi4jaZ
— frankie greek (@frankiegreek) May 19, 2016
Offering insight on whether Snapchat can work for everyone, Armoo opined: “I think you need to target a young audience – 13-21 is where you really succeed. Although, a brand with an interesting story around it, those guys should do pretty well. A weather app or something, not so much.”
He closed by showcasing some of the determination that got him into his current position and said: “We’re going to be the biggest advertising company in the world in three years.
“We have a few ideas up our sleeves, which I’m not ready to reveal just yet, but there’s really cool stuff in the pipeline.”