Home » Meet Tope Awotona, the only African tech founder who became billionaire this year

Meet Tope Awotona, the only African tech founder who became billionaire this year

by Mfonobong Nsehe

Tope Awotona, the 40-year-old Nigerian-born tech founder and CEO of Calendly, became the latest African to join the elite list of businessmen worth more than $1 billion this year.

Awotona, an Atlanta-based tech entrepreneur born into a middle-class family in Lagos, Nigeria, is the founder of Calendly, a scheduling software company that develops a business communication platform used by teams to schedule, prepare for, and follow up on external meetings.

He started a few other businesses that failed before finding success with his current venture, which makes him one of the most successful African-American tech entrepreneurs of his generation.

How he built his billion-dollar fortune is a success story of self-belief, resilience, and a desire to solve problems in a fast-changing corporate world, as he poured his $200,000 in life savings into the business idea that grew into Calendly, while also founding a dating website, a company that sold projectors, and a company that sold garden tools, all of which failed.

Calendly raised $350 million in funding from OpenView Venture Partners and Iconiq Capital in 2021, valuing the tech firm at $3 billion after years of bootstrapping. According to Awotona, the company, which has no physical location, has also been profitable since 2016.

Its revenue surpassed $100 million in 2021 as it was able to create value by leveraging its 10 million users. Individual users can use Calendly for free, but corporations typically pay $25 per user per month.

Awotona’s majority stake in Calendly is worth at least $1.4 billion after the 10-percent discount that Forbes applies to shares of all private companies.

His $1.4-billion stake in the Atlanta-based tech firm makes him the eighteenth Black billionaire and one of only two Black tech billionaires in the United States, alongside David Steward, the 70-year-old founder of Worldwide Technology, one of the largest African-American-owned businesses.

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