At only 27, Timothy Armoo beat the odds to sell his influencer business for eight figures

BY Preta Peace Namasaba March 14, 2024 7:09 AM EDT
Timothy Armoo. Photo credit: Timothy Armoo

Growing up in south London, Timothy Armoo had the odds stacked against him. Firstly, that part of the UK capital includes some of the most deprived areas in an otherwise rich city. But Armoo, a Brit of Ghanaian descent, also had few industry contacts and limited access to opportunities and funding.

He, however, did not let structural barriers hinder his thirst for success which led him to grow a social media advertising business. Armoo called it Fanbytes, and from scratch, beat the odds to raise investment and scale. At only 27, Armoo sold his influencer business for eight figures.

“I was a poor kid, we never had a lot of money and it put some steely determination in me,” Armoo said about how poverty conditioned him.

Born in Hackney, London, Armoo moved to Ghana to live with his grandmother when he was 3 months old. He lived with his grandmother for ten years and then returned to the UK. Living with his father, a first-generation immigrant, in a council estate flat on Old Kent Road, he was determined to make money. At 14, Armoo made a bet with a friend that he could make £500 a month (around $600) before he turned 18. He simply googled ‘how to make money’ and came across a quote which said ‘work with what you know.’ Realizing he was good at Math, he set up a tutoring service where he shared personal revision tips.

As word spread about his endeavor, Armoo expanded his reach to tutoring Physics, Math and Chemistry. He asked his teachers about students who excelled in these subjects and connected them to underperforming students through his tutoring service. Within 6 weeks, his earnings had already exceeded the £500 mark. Armoo then taught himself how to build a website and created the Alpha Tutoring webpage. But when he realized that the service would eliminate the middleman with potential students going directly to the tutors, he stopped the business.

Armoo had what he describes as his lucky break when he won a sixth-form scholarship to independent school Christ’s Hospital boarding school. The school introduced him to a whole new world. Although there weren’t that many people who looked like him, the experience opened his eyes to what was possible and gave him a sense of confidence. Armoo had already started his second business, Entrepreneur Express, an online magazine and media company by this time

Entrepreneur Express contained interviews with successful entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson and Sir Alan Sugar who gave advice and tips on general business practice. Its target audience was mainly students who were interested in starting a business. To accelerate business growth, Armoo converted the magazine into an online platform. He wanted to distribute it to universities across the UK. Armoo sold Entrepreneur Express to Horizon Media, a large media agency from the US before leaving for university. He had orchestrated his first business exit at just 17.

Armoo initially chose to study Philosophy at the university but later switched to Computer Science. He felt that being in the tech industry would enable him to occupy a space where he could contribute the most to society. In his second year at Warwick University, Armoo founded Fanbytes a social media advertising business. He was juggling studies while travelling to London three to four times a week to focus on Fanbytes. Nonetheless, he managed to excel in his exams and led the company through exciting stages of growth.

“After selling my previous business, I started to see the power of social media and the fact that [that] was the direction that the world was going [in]. I then became acutely aware of the fact that brands were missing so much when it came to reaching out to Gen Z. So, it was a combination of being a Gen Z and realising what was missing, then also the power of social media and brands in general,” Armoo explained.

The idea behind Fanbytes was that Gen Z has a different way of looking at the world. The phone is their mouthpiece and amplifies their interests and dislikes. Armoo capitalized on this and built a company staffed with mainly Gen Z to help brands win the hearts of the young generation. Fanbytes consequently developed a proprietary algorithm that scrapes data to search for up-and-coming social media influencers. The marketing company could hence sign them up before they got popular and expensive.

A pioneer in the world of influencer marketing and brand building, Fanbytes helped brands like Nike, Samsung and the UK Government engage with Gen Z. Armoo leveraged influencer marketing to create business value for these organizations. In 2022, he sold Fanbytes to global marketing company Brainlabs for an undisclosed eight-figure sum. The 27-year-old beat the odds to raise investment, scale his business and create a thriving multi-million business.

“Looking back I can see how much I was taking on, but in the moment when you have your sights set on something, you just put your head down and work as hard as you can, and learn as fast as you can. I think I’ve always had this steely determination in me to achieve certain things and I’m proud of what that has enabled me to accomplish,” Armoo said about his journey to creating a successful business.

Today, Armoo is democratizing the traditional “old boys’ club” of angel investing. He is particularly investing in pre-seed new media and e-commerce startups.