• Monday, July 15, 2024
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Tech actor of the week – Tope Awotona

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Our tech actor of the week exemplifies the power of resilience and determination to carve a niche in the vast technology world. Tope Awotona, founder/CEO of the scheduling software, Calendly, is our tech actor for the week. He has a unique story.

Awotona failed in three attempts at a startup business: First, he built a dating website but he lacked the skills and the resources to run the site and it failed. Next was an e-commerce website that sold projectors, which also failed then came another site selling grills. It was at the third failure that Awotona realized that the three startups failed because he was more about making money rather than solving real everyday people issues. Thus, money was always his first consideration in those three startups.

That realization set him on the path to success. Before going into his next venture, he thought long and hard about an everyday problem that he could provide solution to using technology. It was at this point that he realized that people in companies spend too much time sending emails back and forth just to schedule meetings. Thus, Calendly was birthed.

As a salesman for software companies, Awotona would take hours and sometimes days sending emails back and forth to schedule simple meetings with prospects and co-workers. It was frustrating, he said. When the idea to set up Calendly hit Awotona, he was so convinced about it that he invested all his life savings of $200,000 into it and also quit his job at software giant EMC. Calendly, which was founded in 2014, became profitable two years after, posting impressive revenues year-on-year since 2016.

Today, the business has over 10 million users, including La-Z-Boy, Ancestry.com, Indiana University, has attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in funding, and is valued at over $3 billion. Awotona’s majority stake in the business is said to be worth $1.4 billion, making him, according to Forbes, one of two Black tech billionaires in the United States.

Awotona was born, grew up and schooled in Lagos. He was 15 when he relocated with his family to the US where he studied computer science at the University of Georgia before switching to business and management information.

For his resilience, unwavering determination and hard work, and for creating a unique software that helps businesses schedule meetings far quicker devoid of the back and forth of emails, as well as projecting Nigeria’s image, Tope Awotona deserves our tech actor of the week accolade.