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Cloud scheduling platform Calendly, founded by Nigeria-American entrepreneur Tope Awotona has secured a $350 million investment.
The deal with OpenView Venture Partners and Iconiq has led to the Atlanta based company, launched in 2013, being valued at over $3 billion. Previously Calendly had raised just $550,000, including CEO Awotona’s life savings to initially get it off the ground.
Awotona said the funds, which includes both primary and secondary money, will be invested in improving the platform with more tools and functionality, hiring more staff as well as giving liquidity to existing investors and early employees,
Calendly has been profitable since 2016. However, it has seen huge growth over the last year as a result of changes in how people work.
After Covid 19 forced the closure of offices and other meeting places such as coffee shops, libraries, and community centers as well as schools and colleges there has been a surge in the numbers of people working from home.
In 2019, the company’s platform had just under a million users. Today however there are approximately 10 million people using the service.
It is an easy-to-use scheduling software system that provides a quick way to manage open spaces in your calendar for people to book appointments with you in those spaces, which then also books out the time in calendars like Google’s or Microsoft Outlook. And it can be done without having to send a raft of emails.
A Calendly account holder can display available meeting times once they share their custom link. The software will guide the end-user through selecting a meeting slot and then the meeting will be created.
Among its new user base are professionals such as teachers and health workers as well as freelancers, entrepreneurs, and contractors.
Observers have noted that a big part of Calendly’s appeal is how easily it can be used with calender applications such as Office 365, Outlook and apps such as Paypal and GoToMeeting. The company has also doubled its subscription revenue to $70 million.
Speaking about the company’s success and its latest investment Awotona told the Atlanta Voice: “Our profitable, unique, product-led growth model has led to Calendly becoming the most used, most integrated, most loved scheduling platforms for individuals and large enterprises alike.”
He added: “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.”
Nigerian Immigrant To Atlanta
Awotona’s success has been hailed as an example of the grit and determination to overcome hurdles often shown by immigrants who set up businesses.
He emigrated to the US from the suburbs of Lagos as a teenager with his family to continue his education after the tragic death of his father.
After graduating from the University of Georgia and stints at IBM and EMCAwotona launched some e-commerce ventures including building a dating site that didn’t launch due to a lack of resources.
He later unsuccessfully launched an e-commerce site selling projectors. But he didn’t give up. In 2013, the entrepreneur dived into his savings and credit cards to create Calendly.
“What led me to create a scheduling product was my personal need,” he told TechCrunch.“At the time I wasn’t looking to start a business. I just was trying to schedule a meeting, but it took way too many emails to get it done, and I became frustrated.
“I decided that I was going to look for scheduling products that existed on the market that I could sign up for but the problem I was facing at the time was I was trying to arrange meetings with, you know, 10 or 20 people. I was just looking for an easy way for us to easily share our availability and, you know, easily find a time that works for everybody.”