In 2013, Tope Awotona founded Calendly with the vision of simplifying scheduling for everyone without the back-and-forth communication. His strategic direction for this platform has grown and evolved to over 10 million monthly users. Calendly is a scheduler that aims to the frustrating back and forth involved in getting appointments and meetings set up. Calendly removes the friction in the meeting scheduling process, in that people can see one’s calendar and pick an available slot. For the user, it also helps in creating focused meetings as the user can set up the duration for meetings, eg 15 mins, 30 mins, 60 mins.
Awotona started Calendly nine years ago using his life savings of $200,000. Prior to Calendly, Tope spent the majority of his career in enterprise software sales, working for companies such as IBM, Perceptive Software, and Dell Technologies, in addition to launching a series of start-ups. However, he later quit his day job and started pouring his heart and soul to his newly founded baby, Calendly – a scheduling app, which is now a success with over 10 million users worldwide.
Tope grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, where he lived with his father who was a microbiologist and an entrepreneur and his mother worked at the central bank. At age 12 he lost his father during a carjacking where he was shot dead. Three years later, at 15, he moved with his family to Atlanta, USA. He at first had registered for Computer Science at the University of Georgia but later changed to Management Information System that he graduated and holds a degree in.
The idea of Calendly started at a time when he was a salesperson, as setting up meetings and appointments was frustrating; a task that at most times would take dozens of emails and days of delay to secure a meeting/ appointment.
In 2021, Awotona received an award of the 2021 Atlanta Business Chronicle Most Admired CEO Award and 2019 Comparably Best CEOs award. He plans to have more features on his scheduling app. Features such as what needs to happen before meetings (such as having candidates’ résumés attached to recruiters’ calendar invitations) and after them (such as increased analytics). He’s also planning international expansion, believing that the pain of scheduling is felt across all geographies and languages.
Having raised $350M, Calendly’s most recent valuation is $3B. This is a sure winner, and a story worth following with keen interest.