I still remember how intimidated I felt when I first set foot in GridAKL. It wasn’t even officially open yet, finding the entrance (which was at that stage located in the KiwiFish loading dock) was like some kind of pre-interview personality test in itself, and quite frankly; I had no idea what a tech co-working space even was then. Somehow, despite all of that, I managed to secure myself a role as the Community Assistant and BizDojo’s first official employee at GridAKL.
The place was empty (in comparison to now). There were four resident companies literally camping out in a vast and bare space. With a coffee machine. In fact I assume that trusty coffee machine was probably the very first thing through the door.
Fast forward to today, one year on from the official opening, and it is almost overwhelming how much things have changed, not just for Grid, but for me too. I have learnt an indescribable amount this past year.
I am now the Community and Events Coordinator at Grid, and am lucky enough to be surrounded by the raddest, most supportive and talented team EVER. My technical knowledge, whilst far from guru status, has expanded exponentially to include recognising an RCA to jack, thunderbolt extensions, basic system issues, knowing how to troubleshoot a high tech printer…the list goes on. I’ve painted walls, doors, and giant calendars. I’ve built resident company signs (with the help of a box of beer and the the local boat builders power tools – and skills). I can turn up an antique thermostat with a flathead screwdriver, tune a microphone to the right frequency range, install non-postscript drivers, take on wifi issues (once or twice) and deal with multiple complicated health and safety scenarios (none of which were our fault). It has felt, at moments, like we are running a race against time with a grumpy and eccentric 80s building that is a little exhausted and yet still manages to feel warm every time you walk through the door.
In that time I have accidentally towed no less than three Grid resident’s cars, sank an ocean of strong coffee, lovingly created a hanging herb garden (then lovingly watched it die a slow and thirsty death) and thought seriously about facilitating a community veggie garden (until the boss reminded me of the herbs). All of this while attempting to curb bad kitchen etiquette, brazen meeting room thievery, candy-bribe overindulgence and frequent coffee-related life or death emergencies.
Along the journey, our community has evolved in so many ways. Through sheer size, sure. But when I first arrived (and when everyone else first arrived) this place was literally just an empty building that was quickly filling with strangers who knew nothing about each other. Slowly this changed. Our rhetoric is no longer talking about ‘a’ community, now we talk about ‘the’ community. It exists. It is fluid and alive and it’s growing every day. Its strength is in the familiarity of its members. The residents of this community share with each other knowledge built from not only their wins, but from their failures, their pivots and all the little lessons in between.
The wider community has found a place to connect and come together in our thriving event space. I actually don’t believe there is a more social network of people in the world than the tech industry. There is rarely a day that our event space isn’t packed full of people for meetups, workshops, product launches, showcases and discussion series. Agile Auckland, Flounders Club, Startup Weekend, OMG Tech, The Women’s Collective…all of these regulars contribute massively to the culture of sharing; of ideas, struggles and perspectives – not only on topics pertinent to the technology industry, but on issues that face us as people on a human perspective also. I have lost count of the number of times I have stood back and watched a successful event come together perfectly, feeling just….really blessed to be a part of such a huge and varied family.
Happy first birthday to GridAKL and to its’ vibrant and dynamic community. Here’s to an incredible year just been, and many more to come!