“If you want to be an entrepreneur, become really good at something. But Tope is the kind of person who values the journey - “Everything I did along the way helped me get here. Share on linkedin. The now 39-year-old had poured every single penny in his own wallet and more into his startup idea, quitting a stable job in the sales department of cloud services company Dell EMC, emptying out his retirement, maxing out credit cards, and taking out expensive small-business loans to found a company that had yet to post any revenue. The head of revenue, David Rostan, left to start his own business in New York, his home base. It was February 2014. They shot him anyway, and Awotona saw the whole thing. 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 … “And it was viral.”. No more reselling. What had started as a peaceful movement against President Viktor Yanukovych and his decision to […] Tope was inspired. Growing a company is exciting AND humbling every single day. In true entrepreneurial form, Tope claims “I got into just the right amount of trouble growing up…to where I had a lot of fun, but no one ever called my parents. Certainly the Awotona back then would’ve been ill-equipped to handle scaling Calendly. With LinkedIn, I started with the belief that individuals would be the first adopters of the service. If it hadn’t taken off, it would have set me back many, many years.”, The most bittersweet part of his journey? | At Calendly, we are excited about changing the way the world schedules. Omer Khan Yeah. Here are 5 bottles to pop anytime this winter, Future State: Swamp Thing #1 “Obsidian Sun” preview, What businesses slammed by the pandemic can learn from. I felt like I was wasting time because I had my plan in place.” But, he admits it worked out well. 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. Tope Awotona didn’t intend to get his startup off the ground in the middle of a war zone. I didn’t want to know about them.”. Only then are you ready to start a company. Tope Awotona. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. It was February 2014. Like most entrepreneurs, it hasn’t been a straight path to success. To learn more about Calendly check out their website here. In his words, “It was the the best thing that ever happened to me! Ernest Effiong Offiong Fullstack Software Developer ( NodeJs, React & React Native Expert / Blockchain Developer ) Nigeria. “I think everyone wants to invest,” says Mercedes Bent, partner at Lightspeed Ventures. Great. A dating website. I knew if they could do it, I could too.”. Set to post nearly $70 million in annual recurring revenue this year, over double its figure from the year prior, it now has no shortage of venture capital and growth equity investors nipping at its heels. He was the third of four children (all boys), and the Awotona’s big family meant their house was always filled with people and laughter. There are 16,100+ professionals named "Tope,", who use LinkedIn to exchange information, ideas, and opportunities. According to Tope, he didn’t sell many and the margins were terrible. He reminds me of me.”). Everybody there is black, but even there discrimination exists between people of different tribes. The three declined to comment for this article. It was around this time that Tope received the news that his mom was diagnosed with cancer. This was Tope’s aha moment. So he joined a scaling startup in Kansas City, Perceptive Software, as an account executive selling to 50+ colleges and universities across all departments. It’s not a status Awotona would’ve been familiar with in his early days, when even getting a meeting with an investor was a struggle. “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. 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. We’ve all had to schedule conference calls for multiple teams. Share on pinterest. Growth TLDR Event Featuring Tope Awotona. 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. “I was scared,” he says, recalling the sounds of explosion and chaos barging into the confines of his hotel room in Kiev, a mile or two miles from the center of the riots where protestors at one point set up a ring of fire to ward off police officers. 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. There were other tortuous moments in the company’s founding too: In late 2014, Calendly decided to add a premium paying version—a decision that users cursed out in app stores, even if they eventually stuck around. His loving, protective mother would have been so scared of the risk, Tope knew she wouldn’t have been able to be supportive. Your email address will not be published. “But the motivations have shifted over time. 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. The three firms declined to comment for this story). 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. Funnily enough, six years later, he can’t remember what exactly the disagreement was about. Thanks, man. I knew there was a business there.”, In early 2013, Tope started building Calendly. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); Tope Awotona didn’t intend to get his startup off the ground in the middle of a war zone. So he kept his head down, traveling only between his hotel room and the company’s offices to build up the app with the Ukraine-based company. However, soon after launch, we received many inquiries from businesses wanting a business account. Meet the unicorn founder that braved war zones and missed meetings to make his mark on the startup world. There are 40+ professionals named "Awotona", who use LinkedIn to exchange information, ideas, and opportunities. Where I grew up, everyone looked like me - all of our leaders were black, so color didn’t set any limits to my dreaming. Calendly’s base version is indeed completely free—but that was in part because at inception, Awotona didn’t have the money to build a payments rail for the project. He says, ‘I went for broke and put every single dollar I had ever made into it. 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