Inovia Capital Welcomes Seasoned Operator-Investor Magaly Charbonneau as Principal

Fall is one of my favorite seasons in Montreal, as elements that fuel the brilliance of spring are being laid all around. It is a dynamic tableau — and a metaphor for how I see Canadian tech unfolding in the months and years to come. Today we lay the groundwork and build great partnerships, tomorrow our world is transformed.

As Managing Partner of an early stage venture firm, the groundwork I take great time to consider is how to refine a highly successful investment team — exploring how we can continue to shape the landscape of the ever-changing startup community. One truth that guides me is the knowledge that our investment team’s direct operational experience is our most critical asset. Founders trust their peers; they need to know their investors are on their side.

At Inovia, we have a few first time VCs on our team. These individuals match many of our founders in their unbridled trust in the unknown; they are often less biased from personal experience and more revolutionary in their processes. They often share with our founders a culture, and perspectives on technology. On the other end of the spectrum, our team includes many highly seasoned VCs; individuals who have been on the investment side for 5 to 10 or more years, with operational experience as a rich but more distant subtext to their decision-making. These individuals bring depth of thought and networks of relationships that are truly unparalleled.

In the balance is the investor who is fresh from corporate experience — in touch with the daily rhythms of startup culture, and with recent memory of specific technical and business challenges. This investor is the truest peer to our founders. I’ve thought for many years, that if I could convince one of my oldest and most respected acquaintances, Magaly Charbonneau, to join Inovia, that we would have precisely this valuable addition to our investment team — and in Magaly, so very much more.

And so I am pleased to announce that, after having been an Advisor, a Co-Investor, and LP in Inovia Fund 2015, Magaly will join the team full-time as Principal on October 23rd. As an investor, a founder, and a mentor to many in the Quebec startup scene, Magaly brings a rare mix of passion and purpose that will serve to inspire the next generation of legendary startups to spring from our community.

Magaly comes to us directly from Intel Corporation, where she led Business Development Strategy for True Key Worldwide and daily operations for PasswordBox — a startup that she invested in and joined as COO. The company was sold to Intel in 2014, and she stayed on after the acquisition until just recently.

PasswordBox has a very interesting history; one that reveals much about Magaly’s approach to launching and investing in startups. From the start, PasswordBox’s approach was inclusive of the full team — ensuring they had shares, not just jobs. Also, they were willing to take a radical pivot — to throw out the original concept for the company in pursuit of a product that solved ubiquitous, real-world problems. The team was also willing to eschew the glitz and buzz of a consumer product in favor of solving functional challenges faced by consumers. These careful choices were boldly people-focused, and ultimately laid the groundwork for a successful exit. There’s much for founders to draw from this experience.

Magaly’s bold approach to investment is not new. Her first foray into tech was with Hostopia, a platform for small businesses to quickly create an online presence. She believed so passionately about the possibilities of the company, that in 2001, she sold her home and used the capital to invest in it. She joined as VP of Worldwide Sales, and helped grow the business, ultimately selling to Deluxe Corporation in 2008. Gutsy, passionate and determined — these are traits she seeks in investment teams, and are qualities we value as well at Inovia.

I have known Magaly for nearly 20 years, and from seeing her successes stack up, have understood that she views tech investment in the same way we do at Inovia — as primarily about great relationships. She sees an investor’s value as a constant evolution of listening and refinement; as an outcome of inclusiveness and trust. First as an advisor, and later as a co-investor in Poka, we have found natural alignment in values, with our founder and customer-first approach. Magaly’s new role with Inovia means we can continue that work, partnering with exceptional founders for the long term.

Magaly told me once that she sees startups as a team sport; that it’s imperative founders have a collaborative, inclusive approach to team building. She believes that shared ownership of the limelight means a founder has the capacity to listen, grow, and respond — not only to internal struggles, but to demands of the market as well. I couldn’t agree more.

As I write, Montreal’s AI scene is heating up; we expect that in the near future, many startups will emerge from investments in research facilities by major corporations and universities. For pioneers in the space, Magaly’s experience again will prove invaluable. As demonstrated with PasswordBox, she will guide founders to stay focused on applications that solve pressing, real-world issues, while developing viable business models. She will support founders to develop IP, as it will open opportunities as of now unimaginable. This too is the groundwork that drives Inovia.

Even as Magaly’s own startup was acquired by Intel, she stayed connected to the rich and dynamic startup scene in Montreal. Since 2016, she has held the role of Director for AddÉnergie Technologies Inc.; Canada’s leading player in smart charging stations. She has mentored startups through FounderFuel, participates as a Steering Committee Member for the AI Cluster/Montreal, and is an Associate at the Creative Destruction Lab.

Magaly has shown her commitment to staying nimble and curious, and it is a big part of why I am happy to welcome her to Inovia. By staying in “startup mode” ourselves, as an investment team, we are better positioned to respond to the needs of our dynamic and growing startup community. Welcome, Magaly!

Chris Arsenault, Managing Partner, Inovia Capital