Nigerian-born Tope Autona has poured his life savings into the calendar. Now he is one

Calendly was built out of frustration. Now the scheduling app is worth $ 3 billion এবং and is the subject of a heated Twitter debate between Silicon Valley elites.

T.Ope Autona, a 40-year-old founder And Calendley’s chief executive, leaning back in his chair and letting out a loud gaff.

“You call it a message, I tell it the truth,” he said, slapping his hand on the table. Like Awotona, the truth is that everyone needs Calendly, its scheduling software, to manage better, more productive, happier careers.

Nine years ago, Autona started Calendley, poured জীবন 200,000 into her life savings and later quit her job selling software for EMC. Today, the company has 10 million users and counts Lyft,, Indiana University and La-Z-Boy among its customers. Last year’s revenue exceeded $ 100 million, more than double the previous year’s bookings. It could double again This year.

The company, which was founded in Atlanta but has no physical office, has been profitable since 2016. Last year it raised $ 350 million from OpenView Venture Partners and Iconiq Capital with a business value of $ 3 billion. That means Awotona’s majority stake is worth at least 1.4 billion, after a 10% discount. Forbes Applicable to shares of all private companies. With David Steward, the 70-year-old founder of Missouri-based, Autona is one of only two black technology billionaires in the United States. Global technology providing IT providers. “Bait may be the most successful African-American technology entrepreneur of its generation,” said David Cummings, founder of Atlanta Ventures, which led a বিনিয়োগ 550,000 seed investment in Calendley seven years ago.

Calendar has no business of its own. Square, Microsoft and Zurich-based doodles offer competitive products. But Calendley has gained traction with its sleek, consumer-friendly design and its freemium model that allows it to benefit paying customers without marketing.

Awotona is now developing tools outside of meeting schedules that help employers, salespeople and other white-collar workers manage before and after those meetings. This means routing the meeting to the right person in a large company and adding relevant documents such as the agenda and budget needed to run the meeting more smoothly in the invitation. It also includes integration with productivity tools like Salesforce to track results. Others may see scheduled meetings as rigid, but Autona sees this as the key to connecting with everything that happens within an organization. This broad outlook allows him to estimate the potential value of the েন্ড 20 billion that Calendley is selling in the world market.

“In my life, I have benefited without taking the conventional wisdom,” Aotona said. “It has benefited me personally, and I think it has benefited the business.”

Autona was born into a middle-class family in Lagos, Nigeria. Her father was a microbiologist and entrepreneur; His mother worked in the central bank. The 15 million city of Lagos is economically viable but dangerous. When Autona was 12, she saw her father shot and killed in a car crash. “There was a part of me, from a very young age, that wanted to rescue him,” he once said.

In 1996, when he was 15, he moved to Atlanta with his family. He studied computer science at the University of Georgia, then moved on to business and management information. “I loved coding, but it was very monotonous,” he says. “I’m probably too outgoing to be a coder.”

Instead, He has sold software for technology companies, including Perceptive Software, Vertafor and EMC (since Dell was acquired). He also set up several businesses nearby: a dating website, a company that sells projectors, and another that sells garden tools. All three were flops.

For Calendley, his perception was different because of his own frustration with setting up a meeting as a salesman – a task that can sometimes take dozens of emails and a few days delay. “I had a clear idea that the schedule was broken,” he said. In 2013, he launched Calendly from Atlanta Tech Village, a peer-to-peer space for entrepreneurs. To fund it, he ran his 401 (k) campaign and maximized his credit cards. “It could be really bad,” he says. “With my previous business, I hedged my bet a bit and gave myself a way. With Calendley I flew to a war zone and kept every cent I had. If you’re going to do anything, you must go.”

He contracted with the Ukrainian firm Railsware for programming assistance. Autona was in Kiev eight years ago when protesters clashed with government forces on the streets. Now, in the midst of the war, Calendley has helped develop its 10 Ukraine-based contract developers into railways and provided financial support to them and their families.

At the end of 2013, Autona had an effective product but no cash left. Seed investors led by Cummings came to the rescue with half-a-million dollars of infusion. Calendally is free for individual users, but usually costs the corporation $ 25 per user per month. “Employees appreciate our product to their superiors and it becomes a bubble,” Autona said. “This is the Trojan horse of how we enter the company.”

Enterprise customers can set up customized landing pages, hold route meetings with specific groups of people, and integrate their calendarly software with other tools such as Salesforce, Stripe, Zoom and Hubspot. Large customers, which Calendly defines as paying more than $ 100,000 a year, have increased tenfold in the last 12 months as Calendly builds its in-house sales team. For example, the universally traded car shopping site CarGurus has scheduled nearly 2,000 sales meetings with its dealers through Calendly since signing up last May. This means saving employees 500 hours of time, says Michael Riley, senior digital strategist at Cargurus, who led the calendarly rollout.

Lotta work, little play Work can be 9 to 5 A Ways to make a living: Depending on where you call home. According to the International Labor Organization, wages work anywhere from 52.6 hours per week (in the UAE) to 28.5 (in Liberia). Here’s how long people around the world burn midnight oil — and what they can expect in return for a paid vacation.

Last June, US Foods, a large food supplier based out of Chicago, took Calendley to 100 people who work with independent restaurants, mostly mom-and-pop shops. The agreement allows US Foods to set up customized templates for meetings, in both English and Spanish, and incorporates new sales and other results into its strategic planning. “That visibility was a huge selling point for signing an enterprise agreement with Calendley,” said David Esler, vice president of restaurant management at US Foods. For its corporate customers, Awotona says, the cost of calendula is more than offset by increasing productivity.

Calendar’s power can be dynamically complex — inviting, accepting — especially for occupations such as venture capital, where such things are really important. Autona, who said it was no problem for the average employer or salesperson, was surprised to see his company become the object of a Twitter battle this winter. Sam Lesin, a VC with Slow Ventures, tweeted about his hatred of Calendarley on January 26, calling it “the raw / naked display of the social capital dynamics of business.”

“Who hit you, Sam,” said Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder of Billionaire Facebook, whose project manager is Asana, a calendar customer. In a deleted tweet, VC Mark Andersen (valued at 7 1.7 billion) added: “Immediate notice: anyone ignoring my calendar links will be banned from raising venture capital in Silicon Valley.”

Autona says thousands of new users have signed up because of Carroll. “Our marketing team has spent a lot of time this year thinking about how people can talk about Calendar. We didn’t know that the easiest way was to tweet something, “he said. “We couldn’t have planned it better.”

Now Awotona, which took the 424-person company to a completely remote location last summer, plans to do more features before the meeting (such as attaching candidates ‘biographies to employers’ calendar invitations) and after that (such as extended) to push the calendar further. . He also plans to expand internationally, believing that the pain of scheduling is felt across all geographies and languages.

“This is an opportunity to make each meeting more efficient and to achieve its stated purpose,” said Autona, who admits to spending an average of 25 hours a week in meetings. “We see the schedule as an opportunity to set up meetings for success কী how you schedule meetings, simplified preparation and follow-up. That is our great vision. ”

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