Ideally, a time could be agreed upon with one click. Tope Awotona didn’t intend to get his startup off the ground in the middle of a war zone. So employees can sell their shares, but I as a majority shareholder don’t need to sell my stake in a transaction like that,” he says. Sponsored By As founder and CEO of Calendly, a scheduling tool that has served close to 30 million people worldwide in less than a year, Tope Awotona has … After graduation, Tope worked a couple different corporate jobs (including IBM), but he was a man on a mission and quickly realized it would take too long to work his way up. As a matter of fact, the heads of the two companies do know each other, meeting on occasion for coffee before the pandemic hit after being paired together on a Inc magazine segment on startup mentoring (Mailchimp CEO Ben Chestnut describes Awotona as a “thoughtful and quiet guy, humble and a little secretive—I don’t think intentionally. History. https://lnkd.in/e7MCswM #Startup #Innovation #Passion #Business #InspiringStory And if those friends like the product, they’ll sign up and maybe even pay for their businesses to use it too. “Scheduling tools at the time were focused on lots of bells and whistles, but Calendly provided an Instagram-like experience for a business tool,” says Blake Bartlett, a partner at Openview Venture Partners who invested in 2017. The company has recently faced a swath of exits as its scaled, adding positions such as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Marketing Officer for the first time while others have left for different ambitions or to be based closer to home rather than Atlanta. Most were packing their bags and flying out of the city. To learn more about Calendly check out their website here. Wisdom Jomo. The things that seem so scary at the time seem silly now.”. He took a breath and waited for the right idea. “[An IPO] is certainly a strong option I am considering. Badmus Adekunle Graduated from Obafemi Awolowo University Nigeria. Awotona was by no means the first person to come up with the idea of scheduling software—it’s part of the reason investors stayed away from the company in its early days. Tope Awotona didn’t intend to get his startup off the ground in the middle of a war zone. While he didn’t know it at the time, the incident left him with post traumatic stress disorder. Tope Awotona. Largely eschewing venture money, Calendly, founded in 2013, has primarily bootstrapped itself to profitability. It was an ecommerce site selling, you guessed it, projectors. About a year went by, until one day in late 2012, Tope was trying to schedule a meeting which resulted in a ton of back and forth emails. There are 40+ professionals named "Awotona", who use LinkedIn to exchange information, ideas, and opportunities. Tope Awotona I did as well. And in the final check mark of the founder bingo board: He has built startups before Calendly—though ones that he admits were less than groundbreaking. content marketing. I would give anything for my mom to see what she has done.”. And that almost always leads to email after email to coordinate schedules— just call it email tag. Calendly | 9,732 followers on LinkedIn | Calendly helps you schedule meetings without the back-and-forth emails. However, soon after launch, we received many inquiries from businesses wanting a business account. Read the inspiring story of Tope Awotona who founded his innovative startup Calendy, in 2014, investing all his savings under the circumstances of war and political instability. His previous efforts had been only about starting a business to make money, but he knew that wasn’t working. Babatope (Tope) Awotona is the Founder of Calendly, a beautiful, simple scheduling tool that in less than 5 years has served close to 30 million people worldwide and … He learned first hand that people who start great companies are smart but, more importantly, they take action when they see opportunity and stick with it to make it work. They shot him anyway, and Awotona saw the whole thing. There are 16,100+ professionals named "Tope,", who use LinkedIn to exchange information, ideas, and opportunities. His Mom grew up in a wealthy family but his Dad came from a very poor and broken home. I knew there was a business there.”, In early 2013, Tope started building Calendly. Share on pinterest. “I’m focused on building Calendly into a massive standalone business.”, “Initially it was for financial reasons—I literally needed to pay my bills,” he says. I was working with a team of brilliant, hardworking, and passionate people in an inspiring building. Tope claims that Calendly would have never happened without his experience at Perceptive Software. Your email address will not be published. He was pulling more profits, but he still wasn’t passionate or knowledgeable about what he was selling. Tope Awotona is CEO of fast-growing scheduling tool Calendly Nov 6, 2020, 5:00am EST As founder and CEO of Calendly, a scheduling tool that has served close to 30 million people worldwide in … Thank you so much for having me. Thanks, man. There are 16,500+ professionals named "Tope", who use LinkedIn to exchange information, ideas, and opportunities. Which means eventually, he will have to accept more outside investors, though he is hoping it is one that won’t involve a change in control. We’ve all had to schedule conference calls for multiple teams. Comment document.getElementById("comment").setAttribute( "id", "a66dbb5b292e5db9e3a39e1c49c531ef" );document.getElementById("c23ad1545f").setAttribute( "id", "comment" ); Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. But it was also this single-mindedness that has helped fuel Calendly’s remarkable rise. Mailchimp can in theory stay private forever—the CEO has taken no outside money and arranged a profit-sharing agreement with employees over a stock-based compensation, but Awotona has given employees stock. But while some 240 companies in the U.S. are unicorns, according to CBInsights, a number in that neighborhood would make Awotona a rarity on another front: Compass, a real estate brokerage last valued at $6.4 billion, and Zume, a producer of compostable packaging last valued at about $2 billion before the pandemic hit are among the only others who have Black founders. He became obsessed with the gap in the market and finding something better. His father threw them the keys. With 4 kids and lots of responsibilities, this created a tension point for his family growing up. This background meant that Tope’s parents constantly reminded him that they had what a lot of people didn’t and how important it was to be grateful. He says, ‘I went for broke and put every single dollar I had ever made into it. In 2020, having raised just $550,000 from investors such as Atlanta Ventures in total since its founding since 2013, some of Calendly’s would-be suitors have casually valued the company “well north” of $1 billion, says Awotona. In his words, “It was the the best thing that ever happened to me! (Storied firms including Accel, Iconiq, and Sequoia are among the names that have courted the company, sources tell Fortune. If you were poor you were discriminated against. But to use it, consumers have to share their Calendly-branded schedule with friends. The new class of 40 Under Forty was selected by a panel of past winners and comes from about 380 nominations submitted on the Atlanta Business Chronicle website. Meet the unicorn founder that braved war zones and missed meetings to make his mark on the startup world. Tope was inspired. “I think everyone wants to invest,” says Mercedes Bent, partner at Lightspeed Ventures. It can be an asset or an excuse. I felt like I had no option.”. The insomnia lasts to this day. If it hadn’t taken off, it would have set me back many, many years.”, The most bittersweet part of his journey? Ukraine’s capital was engulfed in fire as anti-government protesters armed with molotov cocktails battled against gun-touting police forces. Amsterdam-based Doodle has also recently gained traction. Projectorspot.com was born. With LinkedIn, I started with the belief that individuals would be the first adopters of the service. So he joined a scaling startup in Kansas City, Perceptive Software, as an account executive selling to 50+ colleges and universities across all departments. Parents do so much and sacrifice so much for their kids that I believe it’s the ultimate accomplishment for a parent to see their child be successful. But Awotona’s thoughts veered back and forth from determined—to desperate. Was this his problem to solve? By using this site, you agree to this use. “My mom was wise. In Tope’s words, “I fell in love with the atmosphere, everything the building stood for, and just the excitement and the passion of the people there. No more reselling. There are 16,000+ professionals named "Topé", who use LinkedIn to exchange information, ideas, and opportunities. In some ways, Awotona fits the quintessential founder mold: Yes, he did spend an inordinate amount of time designing and picking out shirts with his company’s logo. Tope Awotona CEO + Founder of Calendly Atlanta, GA. Badmus Adekunle. He had done something perilous and uncommon even in the world of venture capital. For more information, see our Cookie Policy. View Tope Awotona’s profile on LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional community. Unfortunately, that limits people and can hinder the idea that they can do whatever they want.”, Tope’s advice? It was February 2014. His new focus would have to be something he was knowledgeable about, that could solve an important problem, and be something proprietary. Oji Udezue, its vice president of product, was based out of Austin and left earlier this year out of a desire to find a job closer to home. LinkedIn is the world's largest business network, helping professionals like ielts lemon discover inside connections to recommended job candidates, industry experts, and business partners. You see while his father had much success at Unilever, his startups tended to have more downs than ups. So he never fully told her what he was doing. While Calendly has not consummated a deal that values it at over that figure, “it is very much a unicorn.” Indeed, as this story published, sources tell Fortune that the company has engaged in conversations that value it around $3 billion and would provide liquidity to existing shareholders. Tope’s childhood was a good one where community and boy adventures were always close by. Not long after he left the country, protestors stormed Yanukovych’s palace. It was around this time that Tope received the news that his mom was diagnosed with cancer. I felt like I was wasting time because I had my plan in place.” But, he admits it worked out well. He didn’t want his future wife to ever feel financially insecure. Like most entrepreneurs, it hasn’t been a straight path to success. Tope read a New York Times article about the Founder of a startup called Plenty of Fish who was making $10M/year working 10 hours a week. From his roots in Nigeria, entrepreneur Tope Awotona has created a scheduling juggernaut in Calendly—and become one of a small handful of Black founder running billion dollar startups. Tope Awotona didn’t intend to get his startup off the ground in the middle of a war zone. Tope’s second startup began when a business broker (long story short) convinced Tope to build a website around selling projectors. Tope Awotona didn’t intend to get his startup off the ground in the middle of a war zone. His third startup came when he pivoted from projectors to grills and started yardsteals.com. A dating website. Nigeria is a country with a huge wealth disparity - most are either very rich or very poor. So I'll include a link to your LinkedIn profile in the show notes just to make it easy for people there. For the first time, Tope realized that successful companies do not always take a straight path forward. Capitalizing on the irritations of agreeing on a time to visit the stylist or meet a school teacher, the company has attracted some 5 million monthly active users, including users at Linkedin and Zendesk who may use the tool to say schedule a sales call or interview a new hire. Of course, over time it became about much more than money, but that was how it all started.” And for Tope (with his mom and dad’s unwavering support) that dream started with an education. I had to learn how to make customers happy, sell the product, and work with legal, all while maintaining a $2M quota.” This exposed Tope to all the different functions of a software business and would serve as some of the best training he could get for what was to come. It was fate that the investor in North Carolina was unable to keep his appointment. As Calendly has grown, I just get a lot of people who don’t fit the mold who reach out to me, who are women, men, people of color—that have been so inspired by the story— that keeps me going through the tough days.”, Your email address will not be published. So he quickly packed up and moved back to Atlanta to be with her. Last week, I had the pleasure of MCing the third edition of SaaS North, Canada’s largest SaaS conference for companies scaling up. Omer Khan Yeah. majoring in Management Information Systems. But Calendly took off because it was designed like a consumer product, inspired by Awotona’s frustrations trying to schedule a demo call with clients while at various tech companies including Dell EMC. An evergreen plant—an idea from his fiancé who was also introduced through a Calendly client—peeks out from the edges of our Zoom call from its white planter. “I sold software to big organizations like AFLAC, Blue… I lived in an apartment, and never even grilled.” He laughs. It was February 2014. When asked if his skin color may have contributed to his early struggles to raise venture capital funding, Awotona is deliberate with his words, and doesn’t make it simple. Part of a gifted program as a kid, Tope actually graduated high school two years early and was granted a scholarship to a US college at 15 years old. It was February 2014. | At Calendly, we are excited about changing the way the world schedules. Tope quickly realized that he didn’t quite have the means or skills to do it as well as he wanted. View ielts lemon’s professional profile on LinkedIn. His first foray was a dating website, after he read that the founder of Plenty of Fish made $10 million a year working 10 hours a week in a New York Times piece. He is also a former whiz kid who graduated high school two years early and earned admission to a U.S. university at the tender age of 15. 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