Investors can help you fund and hire for your business. And in some cases, they can also help you find the right buyer when it comes time to sell.

That’s how it panned out for Raphael Schaad, founder of the calendar app Cron, who had a matchmaking investor in his network.

Cron, founded in 2019 by the Swiss-born software engineer, earned a spot in the 2020 Y Combinator class. But the entire cohort missed out on Demo Day, where companies pitch to investors, due to Covid lockdowns.

Still, Cron managed to raise $3.5 million in seed capital in March 2020 in a round led by Initialized Capital and including Figma CEO Dylan Field and former LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner.

Building Cron during the pandemic

While the world battled the pandemic, Schaad retreated to his home country where he and eventually his two employees aimed to build a calendar app with the precision and sleek look of a Swiss watch. Schaad knew the product would need features, like a keyboard shortcut to share availability with your team and multiple time zones, to take on the likes of Google Calendar.

Given the stiff competition in the space, the “table stakes feature set is very high,” Schaad told They Got Acquired. Building a product that met this high bar took the team 18 months.

Cron launched in beta in 2021 and gained early traction. The product was growing 10 percent week over week, according to Schaad, and Cron was named Product Hunt’s 2021 productivity app of the year. The company focused on growth and perfecting the product, and the product was free for users at this stage. That meant the company was still pre-revenue.

Notion’s CEO goes from user to buyer

Among those who noticed the new app was Notion co-founder and CEO Ivan Zhao, who switched over to using Cron for his calendar in 2021. Schaad was also a Notion user, and both founders appreciated the craft and utility of the other’s product. An investor in their network connected them.

Zhao told Business Insider that he and Schaad started a conversation about integrating their products, but soon saw potential in joining forces.

Both companies aim to make users more productive, and many users, like Schaad and Zhao themselves, relied on both products. At a previous user conference, Notion users had also expressed interest in adding a calendar function. Acquiring Cron was a way for Notion to add it.

Schaad agreed to sell to Notion for an 8-figure sum in June 2022. He and his team of two employees moved to Notion, where they continued to work on the product. In January 2024, Notion launched an integrated calendar app built on top of Cron technology.

Schaad describes the process of closing the acquisition as “stressful,” but he was ultimately happy with the deal and its “great synergies.”

“We were in the great position of not having to sell,” Schaad explained to They Got Acquired.

“Our product, growth, and retention were fantastic. We barely used the seed money, and were ready to raise a Series A. But the fit with Notion was great because they’re super strong with knowledge and we were the leading calendar upstart and could provide that missing time layer puzzle piece. So when we decided to sign the term sheet for the acquisition, we knew all investors would make a multiple of return and the team would do well.”

He credits this positive outcome to his intense focus on creating a superior product.

“Work on your business as if you wouldn’t want to sell it,” he advises other founders. “Companies are bought, not sold.”