Connecting Auckland’s tech startup community

New country, new life, new tech facilitator

Pauli Sosa, Community Manager, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited

Landing in a new country to build a new life can be a daunting prospect. Finding a job, particularly in tech, can be tricky when it’s often not what you know, but who you know, that helps.

Argentinian-born Pauli Sosa has worked from knowing no one to becoming a prominent face in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s tech startup community. In 2022 she won the GEN NZ Connector of the Year Award and is Tātaki Auckland Unlimited’s very own Community Manager in the Tech and Innovation team. 

From startups in Argentina . . .

Pauli Sosa
Pauli Sosa, Community Manager, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited

Back in Argentina, Pauli ran a university incubator programme. “We wrapped support services around startups to give them their best chance of success – things like shared office space and facilities, financial advice or grants, human resourcing and legal services,” she explains.

After moving to New Zealand in 2015, she was keen to make connections beyond her Argentinian circle, as she recognised that doing so would help her improve her English skills and connect with like-minded individuals. “I wanted to find people who were interested in the same things as me, so I started volunteering.” 

. . . to tech networking in Auckland

Pauli reached out to TEDx to volunteer for their events, connected with a local team and began volunteering at Auckland’s Startup Weekend. Her interest in community building was further ignited by New Zealand’s perfect market size for experimentation and a culture that encourages exploring new markets.

Outside of her receptionist job, Pauli continued to leverage her growing network, and co-founded MUV Talks, a not-for-profit networking company that brings together people with different experiences and points of view to discuss a common theme. The vibe at events is energetic and friendly, ensuring a positive experience.

The goal of these events was to create an environment where passionate people can gather together to get things done; to learn, network and share knowledge.

Through MUV Talks, Pauli was able to address topics close to her heart, such as women in tech and community building. Her dedication and energy caught the attention of Dr Michelle Dickinson, a nanotechnologist and science educator and creator of the Nanogirl science show, who invited her to join her team, travel throughout New Zealand and teach children about science.

“I was overwhelmed with gratitude that someone was giving me a chance to contribute and learn more about New Zealand. During this time, I gained invaluable insights, but I realised my true calling lay in the entrepreneurial space,” says Pauli.

Keeping up connections through Covid-19

In 2018, Pauli organised an event at GridAKL, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited’s tech and innovation hub in Wynyard Quarter. After the event, she was offered a position on the GridAKL team, supporting startups at the John Lysaght Building. She threw herself into supporting entrepreneurs and providing them with the necessary resources to thrive.

But when Covid-19 hit New Zealand and physical spaces became inaccessible, Pauli had to adapt to a new way of connecting with her GridAKL residents. “Virtual platforms and creative initiatives like sharing recipes and hosting virtual tea sessions, helped maintain a sense of camaraderie. The community also contributed ideas, such as fitness instructors conducting online classes. Although challenging, the experience taught me that people still craved connection and engagement, even in a virtual setting,” Pauli says.

However, the event space has struggled to recover from the pandemic’s impact. Engaging participants in free events has become more challenging, with dropout rates increasing from 30 per cent pre-pandemic to 50–60 per cent currently. Paid events have become less attractive, and funding for events has decreased sharply. Uncertainty looms, and previous supporters are no longer readily available.

Welcoming women into tech

Positive things are happening, though. Earlier this year, Pauli drew on her own experiences and formed a Migrants in Tech Community, and attendance has been incredible, with all events sold out.

“I recognised that my experience as a migrant, struggling to find a job and connect with like-minded people, was something I had in common with many who migrated here. I started planning events and gathering speakers, and my aim now is to give a sense of hope and belonging to people who had previously felt excluded from the New Zealand tech community,” Pauli says.

Looking to the future, Pauli remains committed to drawing more women into the entrepreneurial world. She envisions greater peer-to-peer support and emphasises the importance of reaching out to people to build your own connections and network.

Women are amazing at multitasking. We’re caring and nurturing, and we need to create supportive and safe environments to support women entrepreneurs.

To learn more about Migrants in Tech, or Tātaki Auckland Unlimited’s Tech and Innovation team, reach out to Pauli Sosa