Success Story

Will Drewery on working for Elon Musk before building his own startup: ‘The hardest thing that I’ve ever done’

Will Drewery is the co-founder of Diagon, a startup that helps manufacturers procure equipment. After graduating from business school in 2012, he moved to the Bay Arena where a friend told him about Tesla, according to Tech Crunch.

Tesla hired him to source manufacturing equipment for its factories, including industrial robots, metal presses, and plastic molding machines.

While sourcing manufacturing equipment for Tesla factories, he was inspired to start his own company. According to the supply chain manager, he started his company so that companies of all sizes could tap into his expertise of having sourced equipment for Tesla’s electric vehicle and battery facilities.

Through Diagon, companies in fields like automotive and aerospace can identify qualified suppliers from Diagon’s network of equipment suppliers, system integrators and service providers, Tech Crunch reported.

“Big projects companies are building now, like battery manufacturing, need very specific types of process equipment and automation equipment to build a factory and automate,” Drewery told TechCrunch.

“I’d been hearing and seeing the trends toward nearshoring and reshoring of American manufacturing. As a supply chain manager, I’ve been taking a critical eye at how that’s actually going to happen. People intuitively understand that they want to source batteries for the cars they’re making in the U.S. or near the U.S., but they have no idea if that capacity doesn’t exist anywhere, then there’s no way you’re going to find a qualified supplier or have the right infrastructure to make those products.”

Drewery co-founded Diagon with former Zoosk engineering executive Shri Muthu in 2023. The startup uses Artificial Intelligence to get answers around the type of infrastructure companies need.

Prior to co-founding his company, Drewery spent most of his career as an equipment buyer. Working in the sector appears to be something that was embedded in him from childhood. His father and uncles worked in the steel industry and it was a “great way to make a living for a long time” until globalization shifted manufacturing centers elsewhere, he said.

“It impacted me to see not only the industry, but the businesses that supported it, being affected,” Drewery continued, adding: “I had this intuition that there was a much bigger significance to being able to manufacture to support a local economy.”

Drewery also worked at PwC as a consultant before joining the U.S. Department of Defense as a contractor.

His company recently raised $5.1 million that includes a previous $800,000 SAFE (simple agreement for future equity) round. The funding given to Diagon will help the company to actively hire, including a head of product and go-to-market.

On working for Elon Musk, Drewery said, “I’ve never learned more than I learned in that role, but it was the hardest thing that I’ve ever done. Up until starting this company, I’d say that.”

Drewery explained that sourcing equipment involves attending trade shows but doing that was difficult with Musk as the boss.

“A lot of times I would have to do it under the radar,” Drewery said.

Abu Mubarik

Abu Mubarik is a journalist with years of experience in digital media. He loves football and tennis.

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