Open source Calendly alternative Cal.com promises greater data control

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It’s a scenario most people recognize — endless back-and-forth emails, Slack messages, and phone calls, trying to figure out a suitable time and date to host that all-important client meeting. The more people that are involved, across locations and time-zones, the more difficult it is to find that elusive slot where everyone can finally discuss project developments — be that in-person, or virtually.

In truth, this is a problem that numerous companies have been setting out to solve, with the likes of automated meeting scheduling platform Chili Piper this year raising $33 million from notable backers including Google’s AI-focused Gradient Ventures, while the perennially popular Calendly secured $350 million at a chunky $3 billion valuation. The latest company to throw its hat into the proverbial scheduling ring is Cal.com, which is pitching its open source approach as a major selling point and differentiator — one that enables companies to retain full control over their data.

Founded back in June initially as Calendso, Cal.com offers what it calls “scheduling infrastructure for everyone,” and can be used by anyone from yoga instructors and SMEs all the way through to enterprises. Three months on from its formal launch and rebrand, Cal.com recently announced that it has raised $7.4 million in seed funding from a slew of angel and institutional backers, including lead investor OSS Capital and YouTube’s cofounder and former CEO Chad Hurley.

While it’s still early days for the startup, Cal.com claims to facilitate some 3,500 monthly bookings and 10,000 users, including from big VC-backed companies such as Klarna and Deel. And in the decade ahead, cofounders and co-CEOs Bailey Pumfleet and Peer Richelsen, who are based in the U.K. and Germany respectively, have major growth ambitions.

“Our mission is to connect a billion people by 2031 through calendar scheduling, and this fresh funding ensures we have enough runway to pursue our goal,” Richelsen wrote in a blog post announcing the cash injection.

Under the hood

Similar to Calendly, meeting organizers use Cal.com to share a scheduling link with invitees, who are then asked to choose from a set of time slots — the slot that everyone can make is then added to everyone’s calendar.

Above: Cal.com in action

Cal.com ships with a bunch of pre-built integrations, including Google Calendar, Outlook Calendar, and Apple Calendar, while it also offers support for Stripe, so service-providers such as teachers can easily accept payments. Elsewhere, an open API enables users to integrate Cal.com with their own platform.

Data sovereignty

As an open source product available via GitHub, companies can remain in full control of all their data through self-hosting, while also managing the entire look-and-feel of their Cal.com deployment via its white-label offering. If companies don’t want the hassle of self-hosting, Cal.com is available as a fully-hosted service too.

The concept of data sovereignty has become increasingly pertinent across the technology spectrum, as companies face a growing array of privacy regulations in addition to increased expectations from customers that their data will be treated with kid gloves. Enabling organizations to choose where and how their data is hosted allows them to choose which region’s laws apply to its governance, while also ensuring that they don’t pass private data through unnecessary third-party SaaS apps and servers. This is particularly important in highly-regulated industries such as health care, or even in nation states. With that in mind, Cal.com also offers a specific hosting option for both AWS GovCloud and Google Cloud for Government, and says that it is fully HIPAA compliant.

“Transparency and control of companies’ data is what can make or break their choice in which software they use,” Pumfleet told VentureBeat. “We’ve spoken with many companies who simply cannot use any other solution out there — due to the inability to self-host, a lack of transparency, and other data protection related characteristics which Cal.com has. This is absolutely vital for industries like health care and government, but an increasing number of non-regulated industries are [also] looking at how their software products treat and use their data.”

A slew of commercial open source software (COSS) startups have gone to market in recent times with the exact same data control promise. Chatwoot, for example, is an open source customer engagement platform that companies can host on their own infrastructure, while Element brings something similar to the team communication sphere, as does PostHog for product analytics.

Cal.com’s three core pricing plans span basic scheduling on the free tier, through to $39/month for the enterprise incarnation, which includes the white label option, video conferencing, premium integrations, audit logs, and single sign-on (SSO) support. On top of that, Cal.com also offers a separate infrastructure pricing plan starting at $449/month, which allows companies to build their own scheduling products on top of Cal.com while leveraging all the premium features of the enterprise plan.

With $7.4 million in the bank, Cal.com is well-financed to build out new enterprise-focused features, and launch what it calls an App Store for Time, which will allow any developer to build and monetize apps on top of Cal.com.

“Cal.com is designed to be a platform that you can build a whole business upon — you have the flexibility to white-label the whole experience, the ability to self-host, and the ability to extend Cal.com and modify it in any way you like,” Pumfleet added.

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