It’s been a summer as sizzling as the season itself here at Salesloft. We surpassed $100 million in annual recurring revenue. We acquired revenue consulting firm InStereo. And now, hot off the heels of that news, we’re delighted to welcome our newest Board member, Tope Awotona.
Tope is an accomplished SaaS industry veteran, with a background in enterprise software sales at companies like IBM, Perceptive Software, and Dell Technologies, to name a few. He is perhaps best known as the Founder and CEO of scheduling platform Calendly, a company he started in 2013 which, today, has a $3 billion valuation.
Growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, Tope came to the United States in 1996. He graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Management Information Systems and was awarded both Comparably’s Best CEO award in 2019 and the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Most Admired CEO Award in 2021.
We recently chatted with Tope to get to know more about his passions inside and outside of work, and the motivation behind joining Salesloft’s Board of Directors.
Welcome to Salesloft, Tope! We’re grateful for the incredible work and life experience and perspective you bring to the table. What has you most excited about joining the Salesloft Board of Directors?
Thank you so much! I’m honored to be joining. This is a milestone moment of growth for Salesloft, and I’m proud to support a company, particularly one with Atlanta roots, as it continues to help modernize the sales organizations of today and tomorrow. I’ve cheered for this company from the sidelines for many years; now I’m excited to do so in a more formal capacity. Salesloft’s brightest days are ahead, and I’m looking forward to being a part of the journey.
As you know, we at Salesloft are driven by making the lives of sellers easier and helping them exceed their goals. What is your experience with sales?
My sales career started during my junior year of college when I accepted a job selling alarm systems door-to-door. It was supposed to be a simple summer job, but I became hooked on the process; 20 years later and I’ve spent the majority of my professional career in enterprise software sales. Today, as founder and CEO of Calendly, my greatest responsibility is selling the vision of a better way of scheduling to customers, partners, employees, and shareholders. As a result, I have the utmost empathy for sellers and passion for enabling them to reach their maximum potential.
You grew up in Nigeria and emigrated to the U.S. in 1996. How has that experience shaped your perspective on business?
Nigeria experienced a lot of political and economic instability during my childhood, which taught me the value of smart risk-taking and resilience above all else. Once you know setbacks are inevitable but can be overcome, it frees you to be bold. One of our core values at Calendly is “Find a way”: try new approaches, embrace complexity, adapt to change or failure quickly, and find a solution. These are the necessary skills for being successful as an entrepreneur and leader. Kyle and team have always been bold visionaries, and it’s yet another reason why I’m thrilled to be a part of this team.
What’s your proudest career moment so far?
My proudest career moment would have to be building Calendly – a modern scheduling platform for high-performing teams and individuals – in 2013. We’re powering the needs of the new reality of work with simplified scheduling. We are facilitating human connection and collaboration, which have become increasingly difficult to recreate organically outside the office and across today’s digital workforce. Fast forward to today, we have over 10 million monthly global users and more than 50,000 companies we call customers, and we’re profitable. Bringing people together to build relationships and do business is pretty powerful so we feel humbled by this responsibility and opportunity.
Tell us what you like to do in your free time?
When I’m not thinking about Calendly, I enjoy finding that hidden gem of a restaurant or destination that few people know about. I also enjoy CrossFit and discovering new music.
What advice do you have for people who are just starting out their careers in sales?
Seek to add the most value for your customers and your team, and find a way to get even 1% better every day. The compounded improvement of your skills and performance will surprise you.