We’ve all had to schedule conference calls for multiple teams. And that almost always leads to email after email to coordinate schedules— just call it email tag. This was a frustration Calendly’s 34-year-old CEO Tope Awotona knew all too well while working in enterprise software sales.
“I sold software to big organizations like AFLAC, Blue Cross Blue Shield and other Fortune 500 companies and was always arranging meetings,” he says. “There was so much back and forth. It would take more time to schedule the meeting than the actual meeting itself.”
That’s when he thought there had to be a better way. But after doing research, he realized few solid solutions existed. “There were appointment scheduling tools for the health and beauty industry, but there weren’t a lot of other good options available,” Awotona says. “Those out there were too expensive and didn’t work well.” The more he tried to find a solution, the more he discovered a big opening in the marketplace. So he threw caution to the wind and decided to launch one himself. What he created is Calendly, an online calendar tool that links to your Outlook, Office 365 and Google+ account(s). Users create rules around availability and then send invitees a URL with specific appointment times. You can designate 15-, 30- and 60-minute intervals to make scheduling simple, but Calendly can be customized for more specific times, as well.
The cloud-based app took Awotona and his team about six months to build in 2013, and by 2015 Calendly had more than 2 million subscribers with that customer base growing every month. Two options are available: a free and a premium subscription, which costs between $8 per user (billed annually) and $10 (billed monthly). “The premium subscription gives you more ways to customize and funnel people into different buckets,” Awotona says. “Clients love it because it saves everybody time.”
Revenue and the team of 10 at Calendly also are growing. “This time last year we had $100,000 in revenue,” Awotona says. “Now we have $1 million.”
Like so many others, Calendly is based in Buckhead’s Atlanta Tech Village. “When I was looking for office space, I knew I wanted to be here because it’s full of very passionate people working on groundbreaking stuff,” he says. “What’s made me even happier is the community and the way it attracts very talented people.” Atlanta Tech Village now uses Calendly to schedule tours for its facility.
So what’s the 2016 goal for Calendly and Awotona? He says it’s to continue adding clients in customer facing roles—sales people, recruiters, financial services and customer service. Those are the ones scheduling the most meetings with two people in two organizations. But he also plans to continue expanding the product and mastering its marketing.
“We know there are still many millions who don’t know we are here,” he says. “We are anxious to find those people.”
STORY: Sarah Gleim
PHOTOS: Sara Hanna