Calendly Founder, Tope Awotona, a Nigerian-American entrepreneur has grown his startup to a billionaire tech company, now worth $3 billion.
The CEO of Calendly — a modern scheduling platform designed to reorganise calendars; scheduling appointments, meetings, and events — has been titled “one of America’s wealthiest immigrants” by Forbes,
Calendly which started with a $200,000 life-saving investment, has grown tremendously and has made more than $100 million in revenue, especially after its popularity spike during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company raised $350 million last year in funding from OpenView Venture Partners and Iconiq Capital, a price that brings the company’s value to $3 billion.
According to Forbes, the company’s revenue estimate will double in future years with the persistence of the company.
Awotona is potentially tapping into a $20 billion market. With this, Awotona’s majority stake rises to at least $1.4 billion, even after the Forbes 10% share discount.
Tope Awotona’s story
Awotona was born into a middle-class family in Lagos, Nigeria. At 12, his father was killed in a hit and run. And, he moved with his family to Atlanta in 1996 where he grew up.
He studied Computer science at the University of Georgia but later switched to Business and management information. His reason:
I loved coding, but it was too monotonous. I’m probably too extroverted to be a coder.
He became a salesman for tech companies and his frustrating experiences of setting up meetings ignited the idea for Calendly.
After maxing out his credit cards to launch Calendly, Calendly got its fund liberation with the half-million-dollar seed investment led by Cummings.
Awotona also got some programming help, from Ukrainian firm, Railsware. Now, amid the war, Calendly has helped its contract employees from Ukraine relocate and also provided financial support for them and their families.
Calendly started in 2013 and has grown to over 10 million users. Some of their customers have been Lyft, Ancestry.com, Indiana University and La-Z-Boy among others.
Tope could be the most successful African-American tech entrepreneur of his generation.David Cummings, founder of Atlanta Ventures and Calendly $550,000 seed investor.
Despite other competing products, Calendly is distinguished by its uniqueness. Its simple, consumer-friendly design and freemium model has helped the platform gain more customers.
Calendly founder, Tope Awotona is hoping to move the platform beyond just scheduling meetings. He hopes to create tools benefiting recruiters, and salespeople, among others. A featured tool for adding relevant documents like agendas, budgets, CVs etc. is also a strategic plan.
Awotona sees scheduling meetings as connections to everything that happens within an organisation.
In my life, I’ve benefited from not taking the conventional wisdom, It’s benefited me personally, and I think it has benefited the business.Tope Awotona
Calendly is free for individual users, but typically costs corporations $25 per user per month.
Calendly, however, wasn’t Awotona;s first entrepreneurial venture. Awotona founded three different companies that failed before Calendly – a dating website, the sale of projectors, and the sale of garden equipment.
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