How This Recent Graduate Prioritized Being A Startup Founder While In School

Timothy Armoo, cofounder and CEO of Fanbytes, dealt with the tension between being a student and founder building his startup while he was college. In eighteen months, Fanbytes helped brands such as Apple Music, Warner Bros and Universal advertise to teens and millennials through Snapchat influencers at scale. Traditional ad formats are disruptive and forced upon people who consume content daily. With Fanbytes, brands partner with Snapchat influencers to introduce their products and services to their target audience in a natural and non-disruptive manner, resulting in a 93% ad-completion rate and outperforming traditional ads by 4 to 1. Armoo, 23, is a recent graduate of the University of Warwick.

Cofounder & CEO of Fanbytes, Timothy Armoo

Frederick Daso: How did you view yourself as a student and a founder when you were in college? Which one took priority?

Timothy Armoo: I see myself more as a founder, and being a student is just a transitory thing where I’m studying at that point. I don’t even call myself a student. It’s more like: at this point, I happen to be also dedicating something of my time to studying a few things. At my core, I remain a founder.

Daso: That’s insightful. You talked about the temporal aspect about being a student, but don’t you think there’s a social component to that as well?

Armoo: When people say you’re a student, or when people ask what are you doing, and you say you’re a student, they instantly think you are following a specific path. That path being, let’s go to lectures, let’s have these crazy, crazy experiences, and they can’t seem to understand the idea that for me, I don’t see being a student as having to be a typical one. That is one of the reasons that I don’t particularly like when people say what you do, because instantly in their mind, they have these bizarre ideas of what it means to be an outstanding student.

Daso: I see where you’re coming from, and I think your answer makes a lot of sense. There’s just the connotation that if you’re a student, you’re doing X, Y, and Z. You’re studying. You take exams. You go out with friends. This is what society says you’re supposed to be doing, instead of making your initiative or developing your autonomy.

For individuals who don’t want to fit the stereotype of a student, and want to make better use of their time, what would you tell them?

Armoo: Act as if you’re not a student. That’s the thing, right? Sure, you have to ensure that you’re attending lectures and taking exams, I’m not saying not to do those things. I haven’t had the common uni experience at all. At the beginning of university, I said to myself, ‘What do I care about, and why am I here? Why am I at university getting a computer science degree? What do I care about?’

For the people that are more entrepreneurial, I think asking yourself those two questions is necessary. When I started, I remember writing this on a sheet of paper what I care about. For me, I’ve had experiences growing and selling companies. I find that cool, that’s what I want to do, done.

I remember writing on a sheet of paper, what am I prepared to sacrifice for that? And I said I’m not going to be able to go to as many parties, if any. In my last year, I went to zero parties. I was in London working, building and scaling the team because three years ago, I’d written on a sheet of paper that this is what I was willing to sacrifice to achieve that.

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This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and readability.

This work was first published on Forbes.

Forbes Under 30 Contributor, 2016 LinkedIn Top Voice, Venture Fellow at Rough Draft Ventures

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