Entrepreneur: Ayomi Samaraweera

Tilt: Career advice, humor, and safe space for creators

Scene: Canopy website, TikTok (21.9K)

Snack Bites: 

  • Ayomi launched as a TikTok creator after leaving the company as an employee. A few weeks later, she noticed a favorite brand liking and commenting so she DM’d them. After a short correspondence, she had her first sponsored content deal.
  • A layoff from creator economy brand Jellysmack prompted Ayomi to go full time on her startup – Canopy – a community for creators.
  • The challenge of being a founder is that you are the business, Ayomi explains. You must prioritize your time and can’t take a sick day as you might have as an employee.

Why We Stan: Ayomi used her day job to grow her skills as a content creator and creator founder. She also prepared her personal life to launch the startup, saving money to give her some room to work without bringing in revenue.

The Story of Ayomi Samaraweera

Ayomi Samaraweera followed a smart strategy – use the knowledge she gained at her day job to inform her side hustle and, eventually, her startup.

The former global head of internal communications at TikTok became a TikTok creator after leaving the platform for a job at Jellysmack. Within a few weeks of uploading career-focused videos, her take on resigning and applying for new jobs drew hundreds of new followers.

Creator #AyomiSamaraweera used the knowledge gained her in day job at @TikTok to become a content creator. She used the lessons learned at her @Jellysmack job to inform her startup for creators. #CreatorEconomy #Stan Click To Tweet

In an interview with Insider, Ayomi says her early TikTok content varied a lot. “I wasn’t really thinking about a niche or how my content could be unique. I just posted what I felt like at the moment,” she explains.

But her content creation wasn’t cavalier. Ayomi paid careful attention to the audience reaction, and a few weeks after her hit video saw Fishbowl, a professional community app, started liking and commenting.

A fan and user of the app, she messaged them on TikTok to introduce herself and briefly share her background. Fishbowl responded, and after a short correspondence – that she shares with Insider – the company agreed to pay her $450 for three videos. Ayomi had landed her first sponsored content deal.

Launching a creator startup

Six months into her role as chief of staff at creator economy brand Jellysmack, Ayomi got laid off, and she turned her attention to her startup, Canopy, a safe space for creators to gather and learn.

As she tells Insider, “Being laid off just forced my hand. I saw it as a massive opportunity.”

Ayomi had already started work on the Canopy concept. By connecting her day job to her startup, she used a robust network of the very people her startup targets to understand the creator industry, experiences, and pain points.

She also saved more so she could live while operating a pre-revenue company full time.

She operates with a few interns and contractor workers, but since most of the work falls on her shoulder, Ayomi must prioritize her time better than she did as an employee. She also can’t behave as an employee. 

“I came down with the flu two weeks ago, and if I felt that bad in a corporate job, I could have taken a sick day. But that was not an option this time around because I had meetings with two creators and a potential investor. I didn’t feel as if I could take that day off,” she explains.

Lesson for other founders

Ayomi shares some great advice she received – the second best “yes” is a fast “no” – it doesn’t prolong a conversation that leads to nowhere. She also gives her advice for other founders: “Get moving, have a point of view, be dynamic, and be willing to adapt quickly.”

Image courtesy of Business Insider and Samaraweera

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About the author

Ann regularly combines words and strategy for B2B, B2C, and nonprofits, continuing to live up to her high school nickname, Editor Ann. An IABC Communicator of the Year and founder of G Force Communication, Ann coaches and trains professionals in all things content. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.