It’s become a social media influencer world. Companies now try to wrangle the hottest influencers to promote their brands. A company called Fanbytes, started by three young Black entertainers in the U.K., saw this trend coming and launched in 2017 to connect influencers with brands.
The London-based company, founded by CEO Timothy Armoo, Ambrose Cooke, and Mitchell Fasanya, signs up social media influencers on TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat and connects them to big brands for advertising campaigns.
It’s big business. According to one stat, the influencer market is set to grow and generate $2.85 billion.
Armoo, the COO Cooke, and CTO Fasanya came up with the idea for Fanbytes while in college. Cooke developed the tech company’s proprietary algorithm as part of his university dissertation at Imperial College, London. Using the algorithm, Fanbytes can predict the next big influencer and sign them up before they get too popular — and too expensive, BBC reports.
U.K.-based digital media agency Brainlabs took note of Fanbytes’ innovation and acquired in May 2022. Armoo told BBC the deal was in the eight-figure range. The trio of founders will continue to play roles in the company, which has grown to employ 65 people.
“Influencers have become the new A-listers, and celebrity endorsement has stood the test. In the 1700s, it was a royal endorsement that was sought for products, and now it’s the TikTok royalty with creative tools in their back pockets. Realizing the effects of amazing creativity, combined with the power of performance marketing channels, is exactly why Brainlabs and Fanbytes are a perfect match,” Brainlabs founder Daniel Gilbert, told Forbes. “Timo, Mitchell, and Ambrose have … created such powerful bespoke tech to drive their business mirrors the Brainlabs way of thinking alongside their test and learn sensibility.”
For Armoo, the acquisition was a win for Fanbytes.
“There are two main things here that this acquisition helps us do,” he told Forbes. “Firstly, it is going global. Brainlabs has a big presence in Europe, APAC, the U.S., and LATAM. We can suddenly have a presence in the U.S. in a single swoop, which serves us very well considering 40% of our revenue comes from the U.S.; this is a massive opportunity.”
He continued, “The second is the combination of performance marketing and influencer marketing. Influencers are increasingly becoming part of the overall marketing mix; when you combine the brand value of influencers plus the precision targeting of performance marketing and have a clear, cohesive offer to brands, it’s a game-changer.”
Armoo said when growing up he couldn’t have imagined being a major player in the U.K. tech world. Born in London, he moved to Ghana when he was 3 to live with his grandmother. He returned to London when he was 13.
He said he had a “lucky break” as a teenager that changed his life.
Living in an apartment with his father, a first-generation immigrant, he won a scholarship to a private boarding school.
“I was a poor kid, we never had a lot of money, and it put some steely determination in me,” Armoo told BBC. He said his new school opened up his eyes and opportunities. “It introduced me to a world I hadn’t known before,” he said.
He said the skills he learned gave him the confidence to be an entrepreneur and engage with investors for funding for his startup.
“I’ve always seen myself as an entrepreneur first, then a Black entrepreneur,” he told BBC. “Otherwise, you start to put too much emphasis on your race and you start to think about all the statistics around lower funding rates, or lack of exits, which results in you mentally playing on the back foot.”
He added, “Be objective, and solve problems. Focus on being so good they can’t ignore you.”