BetaKit at #SXSW: PasswordBox and A Former “Super Intern” Are Growing Together, And Fast

photo 1

It’s be fun to watch the rise of Montreal’s PasswordBox, the startup that provides a safe and encrypted place for all those passwords that we often forget. Equally as interesting has been watching the rise of the company’s director of communications, Maeghan Smulders, who now seems to be the company’s defacto pitching expert after a couple of high-profile competitions.

I chatted with Smulders in Austin, Texas at the SXSW Interactive Festival this past week, where the Calgary-born member of PasswordBox’s team had to pitch at the “Swell Innovation Awards” as well as the “SXSW Startup Spotlight”, which shines a light on some of the most innovative new companies at SXSW Startup Village.

How was the pitch, I asked her?

“It was terrifying,” she joked. “There were 1000 people registered including corp devs, biz devs, VPs and execs from Apple, Facebook, Dropbox and Disney, so a lot of cool people. The gentlemen who won best gadget at CES 2014 was the winner, but we were really excited to be nominated.”

Representing the company by herself while CEO Dan Robichaud was in San Francisco with investors, Smulders must have had to channel some of her speaking momentum from CES 2014 last month in Las Vegas. There her company took home the award for best mobile app.

“This is a really great place to have a lot of random things happen, but you need to put yourself out there, you need to do a lot of talking and you need to be on a mission, I think,” she said of SXSW 2014.

photo

(She also got a picture with the Grumpy Cat, which is quite awesome).

For those who don’t know Smulder’s background, it’s pretty interesting. Following graduation from Mount Royal University two years ago, the then 24-year-old organized, marketed and executed a huge internship summer tour for herself. She secured unpaid stints ranging from a week to a month at 10 different companies across North America over 112 days.

She showed me the clipping of the front page Toronto Star article earlier this year in Montreal and I found it incredible. She raised funds from local businesses and her school, and managed to get help from some of the firms she interned for. And the media stories like the Star? They were all pitched and marketed by her as well.

What resulted was 29 different job offers in a kind of sweepstakes, before she accepted a position at Beyond The Rack. Smulders spent about half a year there before moving on to PasswordBox. I really don’t think it mattered what type of position these companies offered her, just so long as they got to hire the type of driven, motivated and enthusiastic person she is.

Screen shot 2014-03-12 at 3.46.32 PM

So it was with no surprise that I found Smulders telling me about an increasingly public and visible roll with PasswordBox, the company that is equally as on fire as its go-to girl.

PasswordBox has now introduced its “One-Tap Login”, where users can log in to websites and popular apps on their Android or iOS device with just 1-Tap. The significance revolves around biometrics and identity, particularly with the release of the Samsung Galaxy S5, expected to hit shelves in May.

The phone will feature the ability for users to unlock their phone with their fingerprint, and PasswordBox is set to be one of the first apps that will utilize this biometric technology to allow those users to unlock all their apps with the tap of their fingertip as well. “We’re sealing the envelope with log-in and mobile security,” said Smulders.

The team will finalize its talks with Samsung when it flies out to Samsung Town in Seoul, South Korea in April.

As for Smulders, she’s passionate about PasswordBox’s future, and it shows. Password apps might not be the sexiest topic in the tech bubble, but its clear with one conversation with the former “super intern” that she’s excited to help the startup.

“I’m very passionate about what the team’s building and the direction we’re going in. Online identity and security and mobile advancements are all topics that are so hot right now with all of the big companies, and with every conference we’ve been to,” she said. “I think I’ve got a pretty great job to be able to go and share that with people.”

Joseph Czikk

Joseph Czikk

Joseph Czikk previously has written for the National Post, Montreal Gazette, Vancouver Sun, Regina Leader Post, Techvibes and BC Business Online. Joseph often goes crazy on twitter during NHL and NFL games.