It all began with a client email: “Do you know why Bain Capital Ventures is contacting me about Clockwise?”
This email would mark the beginning of a journey toward the closure of $ 18 million in new funds that will significantly speed up my business, Clockwise . This would require getting to know a lockout partner, long nights putting together a pitch deck, and many teary-eyed Zoom calls with some of the best VCs in the world.
How Ajay Agarwal of Bain Capital Ventures and I built trust online, how I made high-stakes decisions in extreme economic uncertainty and how we were able to turn the constraints of the pandemic into opportunities.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Developing dynamics: 2016 to 2020
Clockwise was founded in late fall 2016. We realized that, as personal as the weather is, our schedules in modern work environments are intertwined with a network of calendar events and participants. People schedule meetings regardless of their colleagues’ preferences by simply looking for any available “white space” (read: it’s time to do some real work). The net effect is that our most precious resource, time, is easy to take and almost impossible to protect.
More than two years later, in June 2019, we launched Clockwise to the public. After years of experimentation and refinement, we have delivered an intelligent calendar assistant to the world that frees up your time so you can focus on what matters. The workers quickly confirmed our intuition that they were hungry for a tool that gave them more productive hours in their day. Our rapid user growth continued throughout 2019.
In January 2020, we were on fire. Since January 1, our user base has grown by more than 90%, increasing to a clip by more than 5% from week to week. As people searched for tools remotely during the on-site shelter, our growth rate accelerated further.
Our growth, our incredible team, our existing leading investors (Accel and Greylock) and our solid cash position meant that we did not need to raise additional capital until the fall of 2020. Although COVID-19 has certainly sent shockwaves through the community, I was in regular communication with a few very committed investors who always seemed eager to invest in the future of productivity. I felt cautiously confident that more capital could wait.
But, you know, the best designed plans.