At just 40 years old, Nigerian-American entrepreneur Tope Awotona has gone from overseeing a small startup to turning his company into a tech unicorn.
The founder and CEO of Calendly — a scheduling app designed to streamline calendars — has been called “one of America’s wealthiest immigrants” by Forbes, and it’s a title he doesn’t take lightly.
With a $200,000 investment — his life savings — Calendly made more than $100 million in revenue, driven in part by its spike in popularity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And Forbes estimates that his revenue will double in 2022 and beyond — and that he’s potentially tapping into a $20 billion market. What’s more, he shows absolutely no signs of slowing down — and we love to see it, indeed.
“In my life, I’ve benefited from not taking the conventional wisdom,” Tope Awotona said to the outlet. “It’s benefited me personally, and I think it has benefited the business.”
Calendly has long been considered a Black-owned startup that is “killing the game,” but its founder’s story is one that’s both inspirational and aspirational and is proof positive that despite the obvious obstacles, anything is indeed possible.
Let’s take a look at what we know about Tope Awotona — and his unconventional journey to success.
He Helped His Company Achieve Unicorn Status Very Quickly
In January 2021, AfroTech reported that Tope Awotona helped Calendly achieve “unicorn status” — that is, a company with a valuation of more than a billion dollars — and, in fact, helped the company surpass its initial $3 billion valuation to “provide liquidity for early shareholders” and to “continue product innovation.”
Tope Awotona Was Named To 2022's AfroTech Future 50
Other innovators on our list included Alena Wicker, Jasmine Crowe, and Fawn Weaver of Uncle Nearest whiskey!
He Founded Calendly in 2013
According to his LinkedIn page, Tope Awotona first founded Calendly in 2013, and he did so as a way to help people streamline their appointments. But the popularity of the app quickly exploded during the pandemic.
And He Did So After His First Three Startups Failed
Success is a journey, and not a destination. There’s no better evidence of that than Tope Awotona’s journey to Calendly’s success. In a podcast interview, he detailed how his first three startup ideas failed miserably, and he founded Calendly as his “last chance” before finally giving up. It’s a good thing he didn’t!
Experts Believe Tope Awotona Is The Most Successful African American Entrepreneur Of His Generation
“Tope could be the most successful African-American tech entrepreneur of his generation,” said David Cummings, founder of Atlanta Ventures, to Forbes.