Tope Awotona: CEO + Founder of Calendly
With over 20 million users worldwide, chances are you or someone you know has used the scheduling platform Calendly. But did you know that the creator risked everything he had when building the company? Meet Tope Awotona: immigrant, salesman, billionaire, and Calendly founder.
Photo courtesy of Mogul Millennial.
Tope Awotona Biography
Awotona was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. In 1996, as a teenager, he immigrated to the United States with his family. He soon went on to earn his degree in Management Information Systems from the University of Georgia in 2002.
The beginning of his career was spent in software sales for various companies, including Dell, IBM, and Perceptive Software.
Before Calendly, Awotona started a few other businesses- from a dating site to projector e-commerce, to grill sales, he was determined to become an entrepreneur. When none of these ideas took off, he decided to find something he was passionate about instead of just focusing on making money and waited until the day he stumbled upon a problem that he could solve.
That day finally came a year later, when he spent all of his time during that day attempting to schedule meetings between his and other’s busy calendars.
After months of research, Awotona put his entire life savings, pulled from his 401k, and maxed out his credit cards to make his idea a business: a scheduling tool that easily helps people streamline meetings, appointments, and communication, called Calendly.
Officially launched in 2013, Awotona bootstrapped Calendly for eight years; funding it all himself until he took on a $350 million investment in 2021.
Calendly and Tope Today
Today, Calendly has over 20 million users worldwide and has been reportedly valued at over $1 billion.
Awotona is one of only two Black tech billionaires in the world, with a net worth of $1.2 billion, and is credited for being one of the most successful African-American tech entrepreneurs in his generation.
“In my life, I’ve benefited from not taking the conventional wisdom,” said Awotona in an interview with Yahoo, “It’s benefited me personally, and I think it has benefited the business…If you’re going to do something, you have to go all in.”