A month after closing a $25m Series A Round, Co-founder Bailey Pumfleet, who recently celebrated his 18th birthday, sat down with the GetLakta team to discuss the details behind Cal.com, an opensource calendaring app that launched on September 15, 2021.
In his interview with Latka, Co-founder Pumfleet revealed the source of the startup’s most significant and effective purchase to date, how he went from a contractor to the primary founder of Cal.com, and then why he chose to renegotiate with his co-founder to split the company’s equity equally. Co-founder Pumfleet also succinctly justified the company’s roughly 830X multiple valuation and what one thing they’ve done to generate glowing employee feedback.
3,000 paying customers for Cal.com
- Team of 16, 90% are engineers from around the world
- $25m Series A, $32m total raised to-date
- Opensource calendar solution to an existing problem
Opensource solution Cal.com solves a problem that co-founder Pumfleet and his co-founding partner faced. When Pumfleet was hired by his now co-founder partner to work on some customized calendaring, he discovered that none of the existing products could meet their needs. Plus, he realized that they were not alone in facing those challenges. “Some people have complex use cases, like telehealth or hiring marketplaces, and the existing solutions don’t handle those complicated needs well,” explained the young entrepreneur.
$5,000 contract for engineering development
Pumfleet’s co-founder had the idea for the calendaring tool. He spec’d out what he wanted to do and published his idea on a website. The co-founder then paid 17-year-old Pumfleet $5,000 to work for two weeks to work on finding a solution. “He sent everyone on a waitlist the work request, and I replied,” explained Pumfleet. At the time, his co-founder’s company was bought out by OnDeck, as he was working full-time as the Head of Product. He wanted someone to take over his side project, and he chose Pumfleet.
Paid pre-MVP as a trial arrangement
Because Pumfleet worked so well with his future co-founder on their initial arrangement, the two decided to found the business together, with Pumfleet taking the lion’s share of equity while his co-founder continued to work full-time at OnDeck. Eventually, his co-founder decided to leave and dedicate himself to Cal.com. That’s when Co-founder Pumfleet happily renegotiated their contract, so they retained an equal interest in the startup. “It was massively helpful and beneficial to have him on board full-time. It was an easy decision,” explained Pumfleet.
3 weeks to first “most basic” MVP
According to Co-founder Pumfleet, he hard-coded the MVP of Cal.com in just 3 weeks. “It was hard coded to only connect with a Google calendar. I don’t think we even had proper time zone codes. I just hard-coded it to London time,” admitted the Co-founder.
Launched on Product Hunt with a waitlist of 1000s
“We had a waitlist of 1000s on Product Hunt before we even shared that we were building it,” revealed co-founder Pumfleet. The first version finally launched on April 30, 2021. They closed about 50 new paying customers on Day 1, to the best of Pumfleet’s recollection. “We didn’t have a free plan at the beginning. We made a mistake by not being able to capture emails on Product Hunt with a free plan,” admitted the Co-founder. He added that now they do offer a free plan.
$12 per month SaaS plan
Today, Cal.com offers a free plan with limited incremental options and a SaaS plan at $12 per month per user. Their current customer base is a mix of consumer and enterprise SaaS customers; their pricing structure differs for enterprise users.
30,000 total users, 10% paid
According to Co-founder Pumfleet, the platform currently serves roughly 30,0000 users in total. He estimates that about 10% of the free users convert to paid. “That’s in line with most SaaS companies,” he clarified. As Latka ran the current numbers of $12 per month times 3,000 users, Pumfleet surprised him with a startling fact, saying, “We unlock all the secrets to our business. We are an open startup and everything, including my salary, is publicly available.”
$70,000 for Co-founders, $100,000 for top engineers, all KPIs public
With the news of Cal.com as an open startup, Lakta quickly visited Cal.com/open to break down the metrics and available details. As Co-founder Pumfleet indicated, all salaries, including his and his co-founder’s $70,000 are public. As for his engineers, Pumfleet explained that all engineers are paid the same based on their level. Junior, mid, and senior-level engineers have fixed pay bounds they call IC1, IC2, and IC3. “We offer complete equality to every demographic across the world. For some of our engineers from India, for instance, their pay structure translates to 1,132% higher than the average salary,” he noted. Pumfleet added that the team received positive feedback for this approach because of its transparency.
3 pay bounds start from contract
Pumfleet and his Co-founder continue to utilize the same system that brought the two of them together with all new hires. “We work with them first as contractors, then we create a proper arrangement if it works out,” he explained. Pumfleet added that his co-founder previously sold a company built on such a platform—hiring contractors before committing to full-time employment.
$20,000 MRR with a new customer spike of 1,300 in April
Cal.com’s current MRR runs $20,000. Latka noticed a recent spike of 1,300 new paying customers in April and queried Co-founder Pumfleet about the bump. He explained that on the 15th of each month, on the anniversary of their Product Hunt, they release version updates and also have announced new funding support. “With news comes media coverage and social media, which causes spikes in new customers,” h explained.
$7.4m Seed Round helps pay for the “most significant and effective expense”
Although Co-founder Pumfleet kept the price under wraps, he identified the purchase of the Cal.com domain name as the biggest and most significant purchase that the startup has made. He believes it’s not only the most significant but also the most effective expense they’ve made and possibly will ever make. “We are a link-sharing business. It’s much nicer and easier for users to type in cal.com than savvycal, calendly, or accuity scheduling,” explained Pumfleet. “We finally bought the name a few months before our launch. We waited to use it until it could coincide with our 1.0 launch,” he added.
$25m Series A Round fills marketplace need
Co-founder Pumfleet sees Cal.com as the Stripe of Time. He spoke positively about calendaring solutions like Calendly, SavvyCal, and Accuity, noting that they work when setting up a 1:1 sales call with a basic Zoom setup. “Scheduling is a core foundational need that runs business and the web, like email. The people who have complex scheduling use cases like telehealth and hiring marketplaces need a white label, integrated solution that can scale to 100s of users. Those companies don’t do that well,” Pumfleet explained.
$130,000 Monthly Burn Rate in April, typically $70,000
Latka noted on the website that Cal.com’s recent burn rate was $130,000. Pumfleet clarified that the company faced some one-time fees, and that the typical monthly burn rate is $70,000, which reinforced his assertion that the Series A would support Cal.com for awhile.
Calculated Valuation at $150m pre-money at a 830x multiple
While Co-founder Pumfleet would not confirm exact details, he did assert that he had no worries about the sky-high multiples. “I have no concerns because the growth at this point was always the plan from the beginning,” he explained. “We are playing the long game, of becoming the Stripe for Time,” Pumfleet continued. He added that Cal.com is really the only player in the open scheduling infrastructure market, and that with their customization capabilities, they are getting positive signals from existing customers.
Pipeline from Enterprise
The long-term plan for Cal.com is to build a strong name in consumers SaaS as a way to break into the enterprise market. “There’s no point for us to be another open source alternative to xyz. We are focused on the consumer side as a way to promote and get our name out there, so personal users can consider our enterprise integration into their workplace,” Co-founder Pumfleet explained. He added that Cal.com’s pipeline and growth will come from the enterprise business, which will be launched in the next few weeks and months.
18-year-old Cal.com co-founder Bailey Pumfleet shared The Martian as the most recent book he’s read. He doesn’t follow any particular CEO, instead choosing to combine traits of multiple successful people. Metabase is “hands-down” his favorite tool for building Cal.com, sharing that it’s an open source analytic platform he relies on regularly. Bailey gets a full 8 hours of sleep per night. He’s 18, single, with no kids. Because of his age, Nathan asked him to look back at his 15-year-old self. Bailey shared that he knew he wanted to get into software engineering and design, but didn’t know much about the careers. “I wish I had gone through YC at 15 to understand that world,” he said.