Tope Awotona, the Nigerian-born tech billionaire, recently became just one of two Black tech billionaires in the U.S., along with 70-year-old David Steward, the founder of Missouri-based IT provider World Wide Technology.
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, into a middle-class family, Awotona’s father was a microbiologist and entrepreneur while his mother worked at the central bank. At 12, Awotona witnessed his father get shot and killed in a carjacking. By age 15, he had moved with his family to Atlanta, studying computer science at the University of Georgia before going into business and management information.
He then sold software for tech companies such as EMC and started some businesses that didn’t do well before founding Calendly. “Our profitable, unique, product-led growth model has led to Calendly becoming the most used, most integrated, most loved scheduling platforms for individuals and large enterprises alike,” Awotona told reporters after his platform raised $350 million in funding in 2021.
Here are three businesses of the tech billionaire:
Awotona started Calendly in Atlanta nearly 11 years ago using his life savings of $200,000 before ditching his job selling software for EMC. Calendly is designed to make the process of finding meeting times easy. Currently, about 10 million people have used the platform monthly since it was created, making it very popular. The popularity of the app was attributed to the rising number of people working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Calendly is used by the majority of Fortune 500 companies as well as nearly all companies in the SaaS 1000. Ancestry.com, Indiana University and Lift have been among its customers.
Vonza is an all-in-one business platform for entrepreneurs and creators, which reached 5000 customers from different parts of the world in 2022. The feat was achieved in less than two years. The success of the platform caught the attention of Awotona who invested in it. His investment was geared towards accelerating Vonza’s marketing engine to reach more customers. Vonza announced in 2022 that the investment would also help to accelerate its marketing engine to scale faster and further help entrepreneurs, coaches and creators to simplify and grow their online business.
Givebutter is a fundraising platform on G2, powering over $300 million in donations for more than a million changemakers worldwide. In 2022, the company completed a seed funding round totaling $7 million.
The seed round saw the participation of several investors, including Awotona, according to PRNewswire.
“Givebutter is a rare breed in today’s startup world, reminding me of the early days of Calendly,” said Awotona. “They are profitable, mission-driven, customer-obsessed, and entirely bootstrapped to this point. I’m excited to see what their team can accomplish with more capital to put to work.”