Calendly leaks

In a good way...

Tope Awotona founded Calendly (meeting scheduling SaaS) in 2013 after finding it hard to book sales meetings as an enterprise salesperson at IBM.

The product leaks before launch and generates their first 1,000 users.

streaming rabbit hole GIF by Feliks Tomasz Konczakowski

They now have 4 million users with $30m ARR, how?

This email explains...


"OH, you're working on a scheduling product also? We have a need for that..." - random developer on the west coast.

This was the message that sparked the leak ^^

Tope had just spent 6 months and all his savings building the Calendly MVP with a team in the Ukraine.

This other web development team working with the same Ukranian development team then get hold of an early version and share it with their customer success team. This customer success team use Calendly to schedule meetings with clients in the education space.

These clients in the education space then start using it for parent - teacher conferences.

A couple of weeks later, Calendly has its first 1,000 users.

Why did Calendly spread so fast after this leak? Two reasons...

1. Their product is inherently viral

In order for a user to gain value from Calendly, they have to spread the product to another person. I have said this over and OVER again in these emails... but it is so SO important. In order for a SaaS business to scale, its unit economics must improve over time.

E.g. the ratio between the $ amount paid for a customer (acquisition cost) and the $ amount gained from a customer (lifetime value) must decrease.

The most effective way of doing this by making it easier and easier for each new customer to bring more new customers, reducing acquisition cost over time.

2. Their product is extremely distinctive

The majority of SaaS businesses miss this. I want to meet Calendly first UX designer... because this person is a genius.

Moving through the booking process with Calendly is like no other booking flow you have ever experienced:

4 clicks and you're done.

Even on the free plan, the Calendly branding is light, because it doesn't need to be obvious...

Tope's background in sales was the key here.

He built Calendly to give an insanely good experience to the booker, not the bookee (just made that term up).

He knew that some people don't really want to meet with salespeople and any barrier in their way will stop them. Calendly is maniacally optimised for the booker of the meeting: design, UX and experience.

Here is what's going on in the mind of a person booking a meeting that has never heard of Calendly:

"Wow this looks nice"

"Wow this is super easy, I booked a meeting in 30 seconds... it normally takes me 4-6 emails and a few hours"

*looks up at the domain of the site*

"Hmmmmm what is Calendly?"

BOOM - another free trial.

cats and dogs GIF by JustViral.Net

Keep hacking, #saashacker - Great artists steal

P.S. Are you a podcast person?

As you can see from the screenshots above... I plan to start recording short, actionable podcast with the people responsible for each #saashack in the daily email.

Good idea?

Please reply to this email with: "YES, podcast please!" or "NO, stick with the emails"...