Tell us a bit about yourselves?
Timothy and Ambrose are the co-founders of Fanbytes, a platform which has helped brands like Universal Music and Charlotte Tilbury Beauty to advertise through the most engaged social influencers on Snapchat and Instagram. Both London raised with a Ghanaian background, we met at a leadership conference in September 2013. Since then, we went on to grow and start a business which has raised half a million investment and grown to 10 full-time employees with our own office in Old Street, London.
For those who don’t know about Fanbytes, could you explain how it works?
Fanbytes is an advertising platform which makes it easy for any brand to create and distribute engaging social video at scale. Similarly to running a Facebook ad, brands are able to select their target audience by age, gender, location, and interest, using the self-serve platform. Once the creative ad has been prepared, the platform invites the most engaged Snapchat or Instagram influencers for their chosen target niche to distribute the ads through their unique sandwich ad format, where the influencer films a ten-second pre-roll and post-roll. An example can be found here: https://streamable.com/fk3ry. Brands can track the performance of their campaign via their live analytics platform which algorithmically optimises their campaign over time.
Snapchat is a popular social media platform. How did the idea of using Snapchat as an advertising service come about?
Fanbytes initially started as a YouTube influencer marketing agency. We used to manage a bunch of YouTubers with large followings and help them to get brand promotions, taking a small cut out of the deal. Once we brought on our third co-founder, and CTO, Mitchell Fasanya, we built some technology around this to help us run more deals at a larger scale. Eventually, the YouTube space became more and more saturated and competitive. Around the end of 2016, we sought to take all our learnings running the YouTube marketing agency over to Snapchat, which we saw as an underserved market. This move helped us to become market leaders and known as the best way to work with Snapchat influencers. The tech we built then enabled us to do this at scale.
Ambrose, how has your degree in mechanical engineering influenced your role at Fanbytes?
Whilst in my final year at Imperial College London, I would think about creative ways that I could combine my business with my degree. I really enjoyed the programming module on my degree, so brainstormed some ideas with my supervisor. Using the MATLAB software, we came up with a topic for my dissertation: “Measuring Social Influence Using Machine Learning”. As a result, I spent my final year learning and applying a bunch of different machine learning algorithms to decipher what made influencers content actually engaging. As a result, I achieved a 1st class in my dissertation and invented the “Fanbytes Score” – an algorithm used to determine the best influencers to use on all of our Fanbytes advertising campaigns.
Could you tell us about your role as C.O.O.? What does it look like on a daily basis?
As COO, I am the primary integrator at Fanbytes. I work at a high level across all divisions to ensure things are running smoothly and together to actualise the overall Fanbytes mission. For example, I am involved in setting the sales and marketing strategy to educate and convert potential clients into Fanbytes customers. I am then involved in ensuring the campaigns and product actually deliver the results we promise, and finally maximising our clients LTV through customer success. All of this is underpinned by continuously assessing whether we are best allocating our resources of money and staff to maximise the output and value of the company.
Timothy, thanks to technology, life moves at a fast pace and many careers options, which did not exist in the past, are available to millennials. What made you choose this career path?
For me, it’s the ability to be able to forge your own path with your intellect rather than having any physical barriers to entry. This is a very new opportunity afforded to us and one to relish.
Startups come in different shapes and sizes. What are the key characteristics that distinguish Fanbytes from other startup companies?
We think from first principles rather than doing what everyone else does. Especially in our world. It can be easy to just follow the money rather than thinking from psychological principles and then building a business from that.
Fanbytes portfolio of clients include companies such as Nickelodeon, Go Pro and Adidas. What was it like gaining your first multinational client?
It’s all system, once you get someone who is good and you land a good test with them, you can then leverage them to get others. For us, it was a lot of hustle and effort but ultimately made easier because we had something that people wanted.
In hindsight, is there anything you would have done differently in the early stages of Fanbytes?
There are a bunch of things we’d have done differently in hindsight, but the #1 thing is to have started sooner!
How would you encourage young people with entrepreneurial ideas?
Obsessively learn from others who have done what you want. Realise that everything can be learnt from mentors or from reading a book.
Persevere – the only way to fail is by giving up.
Learn more about the company at fanbytes.co.uk.