Seeing a long standing resident graduate out of GridAKL is always one of those bittersweet moments! You feel hugely proud of everything they have achieved, but at the same time know you are going to miss them. We talked to recent GridAKL grads ThisData who have been part of our family for a while. Initially joining us as a resident in our old Polperro site, they recently made the leap to going it alone.
So how did you come to be part of GridAKL?
Two years back we had an idea. We’d spent months brainstorming a lot of different business ideas, but this was a good one, so we decided to roll with it. We called it Revert.io and we had a slick rhino mascot designed, along with a great purple website colour scheme. We built a prototype to backup data stored in cloud apps, so that if a company ever got hacked or had an employee go rogue deleting files we would save their bacon.
We were one and a half people then - Rich Chetwynd full-time and me part-time, while juggling a young family. We sub-leased two spare desks from our buddy Rob Coup at Koordinates, in an old Britomart building. But it wasn’t long before the lease ended and Rob had heard about GridAKL, so we all went along to check it out. There was a real buzzy atmosphere in there; a lot of small, early stage startups doing what we were doing - building product, beta testing, figuring out go-to-market strategies - it was the perfect environment for all of us, so in we went.
For six months we stayed tacked on to the end of Koordinates, just the two of us. By hovering on the end of someone else's pod we were able to tap into the goodness that all around at GridAKL. The GridAKL team were continually striving to help by bringing us media opportunities and organising expert speakers to come and share their experiences, plus there was a steady stream of visitors checking out the new ‘tech hub’ in Auckland with its standing desks and casual dress code. There were times we felt a little like zoo animals, but it worked, people were impressed!
When and why did you make the step to taking your own pod?
Six months later we had grown our team to five, but with no need to add more desks as our three newbies were in Wellington, Christchurch, and Los Angeles. A few months after that two of our remote workers moved to Auckland so it was time to bid “adieu” to Koordinates and break away, forming our own bank of desks. It was a pivotal moment! It was also at that time that we started re-thinking our product and strategy, deciding that backup was too reactive and where we wanted to position ourselves was in helping protect companies from getting hacked in the first place. It was at this moment when we (gulp) pivoted to the company we are today - ThisData.
We grew to a team of seven (two still remote) and excitedly moved on into the brand spanking new Lysaght building on W Pakenham Street (BizDojo @ GridAKL) when it opened in November 2015, while watching the old Grid building reduced to dust as part of the Wynyard Quarter re-vamp.
What was it like being part of the BizDojo @ GridAKL community in Lysaght?
The new location was awesome, what I’d call industrial chic, and for eight months that was our home. Coming into the office in the morning was like seeing family - high fives and hellos all around, quick catch ups on new developments and trips to the US, offering and asking for advice from others, all while making cafe-worthy coffees. Lunch breaks were filled with opportunities to learn more on specific business topics from peers and international visiting guests, and at night the event space downstairs was always buzzing with a different speaker or meetup taking place.
You have just graduated out of GridAKL, can you tell us a bit about that?
I should mention that ThisData is a security product, and the technology we are building is breaking ground in how anomaly detection, machine learning, and contextual authentication can be used to verify a user’s identity and prevent account takeover. As our team has grown, so has our product and customer base, and along with it the need to have more highly confidential conversations than ever before. It was in June this year with a feeling of real accomplishment tinged with a little sadness that we made the decision to leave the community that we had grown so fond of, to move into our own ThisData space.
Now, a few months into having our office in Landmark House on Queen Street, we have remained connected to the GridAKL / BizDojo community through their Slack channel and newsletters, but we’ve also taken that next step towards growing up as a business. With hiring plans on the horizon and space to discuss everything we need to - plus walls that we can post-it note to our heart’s content! We are exactly where we need to be right now. We have only great memories of our time in the Grid and will always feel thankful to the BizDojo team for the opportunities they gave us and for making us feel so welcome.