Silicon Valley’s loss during COVID turns into Diagram’s gain

This isn’t the first time Maeghan Smulders has been in the news for a high-profile job-related story. Back in 2012, outlets like the Toronto Star and Calgary Herald reported on the “Super intern” who wowed tech companies from Canada to Silicon Valley. Following graduation from Mount Royal University, Smulders landed 47 job offers following a three-month speed interning spree.

She picked the now defunct discount fashion seller Beyond the Rack, and later accepted a position at PasswordBox, the former Montreal tech company started by serial entrepreneur Dan Robichaud. PasswordBox was later acquired by Intel, and now it’s run by McAfee.

Smulders worked for Robichaud and the folks at PasswordBox/Intel for several years. After that she took a break and visited the world, rethinking her next career move.

And just before COVID hit, the Montrealer by way of Calgary had a full-time move to Silicon Valley all planned out.

She had everything planned out for the next chapter in her life and a one-way ticket to San Francisco.

And then, well, you know how the story went.

With the borders closed and the company unable to do anything due to COVID-19, Smulders was forced to re-think her life plan.

The COVID crisis played the role of a sort of ‘braindrain defender’ for Montreal. For Smulders, the COVID situation allowed her and her partner to reevaluate once again, which led her to accept an opportunity that couldn’t be passed up.

This week Smulders officially accepted a position at Diagram, the well-funded company creator backed by Canadian behemoth Powercorp. Smulders will reunite with Robichaud, who serves as Diagram’s managing partner.

In fact, several former PasswordBox people landed at Diagram-built companies. Former PasswordBox cofounder Marc-Antoine Ross cofounded dfuse. Ian Jeffrey, a cofounder of this website and a former Passwordbox guy, co-founded Breathe Life.  More former PasswordBox folks joined online healthcare startup Dialogue.

Maeghan joins Diagram 

Smulders will join Diagram Ventures as Head of Ecosystem. There she’ll be responsible for matching founders with ideas and helping build new tech companies.

“I think it’s a really great opportunity to not only build Canadian companies but bring talent to Canada, so I’m really excited,” she added.

“I had a chance to meet the team and they were fantastic. Diagram has an innovation team building ideas, an acceleration team for current portfolio companies and they created a new pillar where I’ll be head of ecosystem. I’ll get to meet with incredible founders across North America, and match our ideas  with founding teams,” Smulders told MTLinTECH.

Smulders said Diagram will plan to launch six companies by the end of 2020. Part of the organization’s challenge is finding suitable cofounders to take on the companies, and Smulders will be chatting with potential candidates on a regular basis.

“Diagram’s model is interesting because it hasn’t slowed down due to COVID. Some venture capital firms have stopped and are no longer investing in new ideas, or very minimally investing so they can make sure their companies can make it through,” said Smulders. “At Diagram we have our core companies and we’re constantly investing in our new ideas.”

Diagram also recently brought on former Smooch cofounder and investor Hamnett Hill as a parter. It’s becoming evident that notable names in the investing and startup community are slowly trickling into Diagram’s web.

For Smulders, the job offer from Diagram was a “complete no-brainer”. The ability to join such a network of people and to work in a job that allows her to connect with founders and ideas, she said, is a great opportunity.

How’s that for a twist of fate?

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