Diagram expands team, closes additional investment of $5 million

After the success of its first two ventures, Diagram today announced the growth of its team, and the closing of an additional $5 million round extension, bringing the total fund to $30 million.

Diagram, the Montreal-based launchpad for insurance, financial services, and healthcare startups, is bringing on Dan Robichaud as Managing Partner and Marc­-Antoine Ross as Chief Innovation Officer.

It also announced the addition of seven more angel investors, including Angela Strange (Partner
at Andreessen Horowitz), Dax Dasilva (CEO & Founder at Lightspeed), and Mike Cegelski (Managing
Partner at Panache Ventures).

“When Intel acquired PasswordBox, I started to go and meet with the companies there and the team and I got more and more intrigued by what they were doing, so much that I decided to join them. So I first became an investor, then I started to go there and help the companies on an informal basis. This is also where I think we have great potential in Montreal of creating giant Canadian companies that will have an impact globally,” Dan Robichaud, CEO of PasswordBox (acquired by Intel in 2014) told MTLinTECH.

For Robichaud, Diagram offers the unique opportunity to be hands on in the creation of new businesses, but without the long-term commitment that comes with being CEO. It’s somewhere between being an investor and captaining a new company.

“I’ve been offered to be a part of standard VC funds, and I decided to pass on those opportunities. I’ve invested in about 45 startups and realized that when you’re writing checks it’s very different from when you’re creating a business. What they’re doing at Diagram is basically creating businesses. It’s a $30 million fund that only works with six companies, so we invest up to $5 million per company. But we don’t only write the check. We actually start from an idea, we test the idea with traffic, we test if there’s traction, and then we try to find out who is the best person in our network to join the company. Who’s the best CEO, the best founding team to actually make up the company.”

What I do at Diagram is I start companies, and I’m funding the right people to run the company. But I don’t need to be in the company for five or ten years after that. I’m only there at the beginning to make sure we have the right idea and the right timing and the right founders.

The other thing that attracted Robichaud to Diagram is how founder friendly it is. The founders retain the majority of the shares, both a good deal and a way to ensure the founders retain control.

Diagram’s focus has shifted towards building its next set of companies, doubling down on its unique
strategy of concentrated investments, hands­on approach to venture creation, and privileged support from Portag3 Ventures LP and a group of over 50 angel investors.

“It’s an honour to have Dan and Marc­Antoine joining us at Diagram. Their passion for building great
products, combined with their focus on fast, data­driven iteration will be invaluable as we build our next
wave of ventures,” said Francois Lafortune, Founder and CEO of Diagram.

“The early success of Diagram and its first two companies, Collage and Dialogue, is clear evidence that
their team of builders and operators are onto something. I’m confident their unique approach to building companies will result in the creation of the next global leaders based in Canada,” said Paul Desmarais III, Executive Chairman of Portag3 Ventures LP and Senior Vice President at Power Financial Corporation.

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