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Nigerian-born Tope Awotona’s Calendly raises $350m

Tope Awotona’s cloud scheduling platform Calendly, has raised $350 million from OpenView Venture Partners and Iconiq capital, making the Atlanta-based company now valued at over $3 billion.

The high valuation is due to the explosive growth Calendly experienced last year. In 2019, Calendly had less than a million users, now it currently has about 10 million people using it. Last year, Calendly also doubled its subscription revenue to $70 million. 

The reason for the surge in its usage can be credited to the now prevalent work-from-home culture. In the past year, a new set of users including health workers, teachers, contractors, entrepreneurs, and freelancers have started using Calendly to schedule meetings.

Prior to this investment, Calendly, which has been profitable since 2016, had raised just $550,000. It will use the $350 million investment to provide liquidity for early shareholders and employees as well as continue product innovation. The software startup also added two new senior executives at the end of 2020 to grow its employees and revenue.

Calendly was founded by Tope Awotona, aged 38, who grew up in Nigeria but moved to the US as a teenager. 

Before he started working on Calendly, he tried building a dating site that didn’t launch due to lack of resources. After that, he built an e-commerce site selling projectors, but poor sales and a thin margin led to the end of the business.

In the spirit of not giving up, he also tried selling grills but this met the same fate as the projectors.

When he started Calendly it was difficult getting investment.

“I raided my bank account and 401(k) to launch Calendly in 2013. Eventually, I ran out of money and started to seek VC funding. I had a working product, and customers using it, and everyone said no. Meanwhile, I watched other people who fit a different “profile” get money thrown at them for shitty ideas. Those VCs were ignorant and shortsighted. The only thing I could attribute it to was that I was black.”  He told Inc.

Talking about this investment, Awotona said, “While we considered outside investment an unnecessary distraction, we made the decision to partner with OpenView and Iconiq because of their insight and extended network within the tech industry,” 

For now, Calendly might look like a platform that provides a quick way to manage open spaces in your calendar, but it’s adding a number of tools to enhance that experience and fast becoming a place where you can integrate with other platforms and pay for services. 

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