History Portrait

Doodle – simple, but genius

After the zipper, LSD and five other fantastic Swiss inventions, we continue our series with an article about Doodle. I bet you have already received a Doodle-invitation at least once in your life. But did you know that the genius behind Doodle is Swiss?

Who doesn’t know this scenario: Inviting people to dinner or a party via whatsapp is nearly impossible – it is a jumble of different messages…one person can’t come on that specific date, another one is unable to join at another time.

Finding a fixed date is also hard with e-mail chats, resulting in a never-ending back and forth with various date suggestions.

In 2003, Michael Näf had this exact problem. Instead of just wasting his time, answering every suggestion and message, he decided to create an Internet calendar tool for time management. He intended it only for his private use, without any thoughts of commercial expansion.

The idea behind it is simple: create a single program on the Internet, where friends are able to record their desired dates in such a way that they are visible to all parties involved.

Quelle: doodle.com

It all made sense, but the ETH-Student hesitated to deploy his invention. As he says, he did not want to impose his program on anyone. Nevertheless, Näf sent the first Doodle link in an email, when he was looking for an appointment with his work colleagues. They were delighted with the program and the appropriate date was quickly found. Näf decided to use the name «Doodle», the English word for «Gekritzel». It is short, memorable and sympathetic.

He immediately recognised the need for his tool as the number of users rose exponentially. In no time at all, he had 100’000 to 200’000 users on his platform.

Michael Näf (l.) und Paul Sevinc (Quelle: werbewoche.ch)

Another four years of development later, he and his former university colleague Paul Sevinç founded «Inturico Engineeering GmbH» in 2007, headquartered in Zurich, which later became «Doodle AG».

What is Doodle today?

In only a few years, Doodle has become a big, successful business model. In 2011, Tamedia acquired a minority stake in Doodle. And the company grew even more. Three years later, Doodle manages to serve 20 Million users per month and continues to grow its user base worldwide by offering its scheduling service in 20 languages.

It’s a success story that founder Näf never imagined could be possible. And for him, now is the right time to withdraw from the operational management. «The company is doing well, the construction work has been done. I have a desire to create something new.»

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