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Exclusive Ask Me Anything (AMA) Session with Mahesh Muralidhar and Toby Thomas-Smith

Please provide a brief summary of the event’s purpose and schedule.
Join us for a unique Sunday-inspiring session for entrepreneurs and startup enthusiasts to hear the journey of two of NZ’s homegrown startup stars, all while enjoying delicious ice cream.


10 September 2023


3:00 pm


GridAKL Lysaght Building

More About the Speakers

Toby Thomas-Smith: CEO and Co-founder of Kiki Club (formerly known as Easy Rent), successful in NZ, Australia and recently launched in the US. Kiki Club has just closed the largest seed round in NZ startup history, raising an impressive $10 million.

Mahesh Muralidhar: One of the original leaders at design giant Canva, senior exec at multiple Aussie tech startups, and CEO of Phase One Ventures – an incubator and mentoring program for Kiwi startups.

MC: Pauli Sosa: An innovator, facilitator and tech community connector – as our host for this session.

The Backstory

Toby, a 22-year-old from Wellington, has been a significant force in Auckland’s startup scene for almost half a decade. Mahesh and Toby’s shared journey over the last three years is nothing short of inspirational. From their initial meetings over Zoom, to navigating challenges on co-founder dynamics, product, and pivotal growth decisions from Sydney to New York, their story showcases the raw and often unseen journey from zero to one in the startup world.

This is a rare glimpse inside the black box of startup evolution; made even more special by the rare opportunity to hear in person from Toby, who’s now based in New York full-time.

Why This Matters?

While many are familiar with the beginnings (zero) and the successes (one) of startups, few get to witness the challenging and transformative zero-to-one phase. This AMA session will shed light on that crucial period.

This event also marks a full-circle moment. Seven years ago, GridAKL hosted a session where Mahesh spoke about Canva’s formation. Toby, then only 14, was in the audience, marking the start of their interconnected journeys.

This isn’t just a story about startups. It’s about dreams, perseverance, and the power of collaboration.

Shout out to KikiClub and PhaseOne Ventures for helping us make this event free for everyone to attend!

See you all at GridAKL!