Announcing the 63 ambitious finalists, 3 winners and Pause Awards Night

30 October, 2023
Announcing the 63 ambitious finalists, 3 winners and Pause Awards Night | News | Pause Awards
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Ann Nounce
30 October, 2023

Get the scoop on the Pause Awards ’23 finalists, celebrating Australia’s top innovators. Learn about who made the cut, People’s Choice winners, and the upcoming electrifying Pause Awards Night on December 4th, 2023.

It’s that time of the year again when Australia’s most audacious and innovative minds gather under the spotlight. The Pause Awards ’23, powered by VicGov, are back, and this year, they promise to be everything you ever wanted to kick 2023 out the door! 

In its sixth year, the Pause Awards have become a symbol of recognition for Australia’s pioneers and innovators. But what sets these awards apart from the rest? Unlike traditional accolades that focus solely on financial numbers, the Pause Awards take a more holistic approach. They measure each finalist’s breakthrough moments, ambition and impact – the very essence of innovation.

Investable Score™ – A New Era in Judging

This year, the Pause Awards introduce a game-changer in the judging criteria: the Investable Score™. It’s not just about innovation; it’s about the potential for growth and investment. The Investable Score™ reflects the ability of these finalists to not just make waves but to ride them all the way to the shore of success, toward the potential investors.

“This year’s winning entries are based on a key insight, cleverly designed, and delivered through razor-sharp execution. If the entrant’s idea, execution, and measurable results stopped us in our tracks, made us pause for thought, raised a smile or a tinge of envy that ‘I wish I’d thought of that,’ then they are a winner.”

Lee Tonitto, Chair of the Judging Board and Director of Tonitto and Partners

People’s Choice Awards – Winners That Captured Hearts

Before we dive into the list of finalists, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the winners of the People’s Choice Awards. These remarkable individuals and companies have captured the hearts of the public with their innovative contributions in various categories.

  1. Wevolt takes the crown in the Going Green category.
  2. AirTree Ventures secures its place as the People’s Choice in Venture Cap.
  3. Michelle Mannering shines in the Angel category.

These winners have resonated with the public, showcasing the power of innovation to inspire and connect. Congratulations to Wevolt, AirTree Ventures and Michelle Mannering for rallying their troops!

Exemplifying Excellence, Innovation and Ambition

Now, let’s turn our attention to the cream of the crop, the finalists who have exemplified excellence, innovation, and ambition across various categories. This year’s lineup is nothing short of impressive, with a diverse range of companies and individuals making their mark.

  1. Kollektive: Thriving in Small Team Culture
    Kollektive isn’t just content with being recognised in one category; they’re making waves across the board. Nominated in the Small Team Culture category, they’ve also left their mark in the Operators and Excellence tracks. Kollektive is a testament to the power of a tight-knit team and a culture that breeds success.
  2. Origin Energy: Leading the Charge in Going Green
    Origin Energy isn’t just nominated once; they’re a force to be reckoned with in multiple categories. They lead the charge in the Going Green category, showing their commitment to sustainability. But that’s not all – they’re also nominated in the Growth, Good, and Operators tracks, proving that innovation and environmental consciousness go hand in hand.
  3. Upstock: Shining Bright and Company of the Year Contender
    Upstock is another standout finalist, making waves in the Growth, Culture, and Excellence tracks. But what’s even more impressive is their noteworthy mention for Company of the Year. This recognition speaks volumes about Upstock’s dedication to excellence and their potential to redefine success.
  4. WeMoney: Strong Contender for Company of the Year
    WeMoney is not just another fintech company; they’re a strong contender for Company of the Year. With nominations in the Growth and Excellence tracks, they’ve demonstrated their ability to innovate in the financial sector and offer something truly exceptional to their customers.
  5. Tanck: Versatile Strength in Culture and Good
    Tanck is all about versatility, showcasing their strength in the Culture, Good, and Excellence tracks. Notably recognised for Small Team Culture and B-Good categories, they’re a prime example of how innovation and a commitment to doing good can be done right.
Megan Flamer
Megan Flamer, Director of Innovation for the Monash Centre for Consciousness and Contemplative Studies.

The Awards Night – An Electrifying Celebration

The ultimate awards ceremony, presented by Blackmagic Design, is set to be an electrifying night of recognition and ecosystem networking. As we gather to celebrate the audacity, innovation, and boldness of these finalists, the event is also graciously sponsored by Zoho and Give a Grad a Go as Category sponsors.

The event will take place on December 4th, 2023, at the prestigious BOND Melbourne. Megan Flamer, Director of Innovation for the Monash Centre for Consciousness and Contemplative Studies, will be taking the stage as the MC to join George Hedon. It’s a night you won’t want to miss, filled with inspiration, networking opportunities, and, of course, the much-anticipated Walking-Dance for winners!

Redefining Success – The Pause Awards ’23

In the words of Founder and CEO, George Hedon, the Pause Awards are all about spotlighting those who don’t just chase success but redefine it. They carve out new vistas of what’s achievable, and this year’s finalists and winners are a testament to that spirit.

As we countdown to the Pause Awards Night ’23, we invite you to join us in celebrating these innovators who dare to push the boundaries of what’s possible. Stay tuned for more updates as we prepare for an unforgettable night on December 4th, 2023, when Australia’s innovators take centre stage.

Innovation, ambition and excellence – that’s what the Pause Awards ’23 are all about. So mark your calendars and get ready to meet the future of Australian innovators in action on the dance floor!

Here is the list of all Pause Awards ‘23 Finalists:

Small team culture – Kollektive
Small team culture – Motor Culture Australia
Small team culture – Tanck
Work sweet work – Quad Lock
Work sweet work – ServiceRocket
Work sweet work – Upstock

Company of the Year – WeMoney
Company of the Year – Arriba Group
Company of the Year – Birchal
Company of the Year – Kollektive
Company of the Year – Upstock
Defiant ones – Tixel
Defiant ones – WeMoney
Defiant ones – Arriba Group
Defiant ones – FCX
Hammer – Birchal
Hammer – Macro Mike
Hammer – CorePlan
Hammer – inke packaging
Hammer – Kollektive
Hammer – Tanck
Hammer – TP24
Hammer – WeMoney
I wish I’d done that – Macro Mike
I wish I’d done that – LongView
I wish I’d done that – Wisr
On the rise – Tanck
On the rise – bobby
On the rise – Upstock
Prodigy – Pretzel Australia
Women in business – Chau Le, General Manager, eMobility, Origin Energy
Women in business – Marcella Romero, CEO, Arriba Group
Women in business – Melinda Farley, Founder and Managing Director, Kollektive
Women in business – Brittany Garbutt, Owner and Director, Pretzel Australia
Women in business – Liza Zhang, Director, Chat Well Allied Health

B-Good Music – Health
B-Good – Tanck
Circular Pioneer – ReSource
Circular Pioneer – Music Health
Going green – Origin Energy
Going green – Wevolt

Design first – inke packaging
Design first – Upstock
Great pivot – InvestorHub
Great pivot – LongView
Movement (new) – Quad Lock
New model (new) – Origin Energy
New model (new) – LunchFox
Pioneer (new) – Origin Energy
Wildfire – WeMoney
Wildfire – bobby
You’ve got ethics – Ethical Property Investments

C-Suite – Chau Le, General Manager, eMobility, Origin Energy
Down under (new) – Upstock
Ecosystem star – Paz Pisarski, Co-Founder, The Community Collective
Ecosystem star – Dickie Currer, Head of Partnerships and New Markets, Startup Network
Ecosystem star – Michelle Mannering, Developer Advocate, GitHub
Future builder – Jasmine Batra, Managing Director, Arrow Digital
Future builder – Melinda Farley, Founder and Managing Director, Kollektive
Future builder – Paz Pisarski, Co-Founder, The Community Collective
Out of the garage – Kollektive
Out of the garage – WithYouWithMe
TopCoder (new) – Mel Stubbings

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Category tracks

The Culture track seeks entries that exemplify the development of an inclusive and collaborative workplace culture, crucial for organisational success and growth. Submissions should illustrate transformative strategies implemented across core business functions, reflecting expertise, leadership, and a clear vision. These strategies should demonstrate a positive impact on the business, its employees, stakeholders, and customers, showcasing how a nurturing culture contributes to overall growth and innovation.

The Excellence track celebrates businesses that have demonstrated remarkable success and impact within their industry, regardless of their size. Entries for this category should illustrate how the business's strategic execution, guided by visionary leadership and exceptional expertise, has significantly influenced the industry. The focus will be on the tangible outcomes of these strategies, highlighting the company's ability to innovate, lead, and leave a lasting impression in its field.

The Good track is focused on recognising companies dedicated to their mission of creating a positive societal impact. Entries should highlight innovative solutions aimed at addressing global challenges such as environmental sustainability, social equity, and community well-being. Successful submissions will demonstrate how their initiatives contribute to significant changes, tackling issues like gender inequality, social imbalance, and injustice, thereby setting a precedent for responsible and impactful business practices.

Awarded to a single entry in a category, Grand Prix is the top accolade in that category. To win the Grand Prix, the entire Judging Board must unanimously agree that the entry deserves the accolade of being the best in that category.

The Growth track is about showcasing how businesses have enhanced productivity and execution to make a significant impact in their market. Entries should highlight innovative strategies that have optimised the customer journey, leading to increased engagement and commercial success. This track is for those who have effectively used their understanding of the market and customer needs to scale their business and achieve notable growth.

The Operators track seeks entries that showcase leadership in fostering innovation within their ecosystems. Ideal submissions will highlight how your initiatives have catalysed the creation of new products or services, bolstered by a culture that uplifts internal teams and the wider community. This track celebrates those who drive progress by empowering voices and forging transformative connections in their industry.


  • Always Evolving New

    Acknowledges a culture of continuous learning and improvement within a company, encourages employee development, and always looks for ways to optimise and innovate operations.

  • Big & Mighty Culture New

    Recognises companies (51-1000 employees) for their exceptional efforts in cultivating a culture that champions innovation.

  • Diverse Co.

    Celebrates workplaces dedicated to fostering innovation through a vibrant tapestry of diverse talents and perspectives.

  • Small & Mighty Culture New

    Applauds small teams of fewer than 50 employees for their remarkable ability to foster innovation and set new benchmarks in their domain.

  • Work Sweet Work

    Acknowledges companies that have achieved extraordinary employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention, creating an exemplary workplace culture.

  • Company of the Year

    Honours an outstanding company that not only showcases exemplary leadership and resilience but also demonstrates a clear, quantifiable impact over the past year.

  • Customer Obsessed New

    Applauds prioritisation, understanding and meeting the needs and expectations of their customers, including feedback, personalised services and ensuring high satisfaction.

  • Defiant Ones

    Recognises firms that lead technological innovation, setting new standards and defining the future of their industries.

  • Hammer

    Celebrates companies that have not only defined success on their own terms but have also concretely demonstrated their triumphs over the past year.

  • I Wish I'd Done That

    Applauds ingenious, simple solutions in niche markets that spark a universal sentiment of admiration.

  • On the Rise

    Celebrates early-stage startups, under 4 years, that have shown remarkable progress and success in their initial years.

  • Prodigy

    Recognises young visionaries under 30 with outstanding talents and achievements, setting them apart in their fields.

  • Singularity

    Highlights AI-driven companies that are pioneering new services or integrating AI to create innovative products.

  • Women in Business

    Celebrates female entrepreneurs and leaders who are forging paths for future generations by creating more equitable opportunities.

  • B-Good

    Recognises businesses that redefine commercial success by positively transforming our economic system for the benefit of all stakeholders.

  • Circular Pioneer

    Celebrates companies at the forefront of circular economy practices, making substantial and sustainable differences.

  • Ethical Leadership New

    Commends companies exemplifying leadership in environmental and social governance, setting standards in corporate responsibility and ethical practices.

  • Going Green

    Acknowledges companies leading large-scale sustainable initiatives, addressing critical areas like clean energy and environmental justice.

  • Collab New

    Honours strategic partnerships and alliances with other businesses to leverage complementary strengths, access new markets, and share resources for synergistic growth and innovation.

  • Design First

    Celebrates companies where design is the heartbeat of innovation, engaging the whole team in crafting groundbreaking products.

  • Going Global New

    Applauds companies that have expanded their reach globally, showcasing exceptional growth and international success.

  • Great Pivot

    Acknowledges companies that adeptly navigate change, leveraging insights to pivot towards delivering outstanding products.

  • Movement

    Recognises unforgettable event experiences that resonate emotionally, drive social change, or achieve viral status.

  • New Model

    Honours businesses revolutionising markets with elegant and disruptive business models.

  • Next Level New

    Applauds companies which had successful strategic acquisition and integration of another entity, staff or an asset that allowed them to further grow and scale their services.

  • Wildfire

    Celebrates companies that have rapidly and significantly impacted their marketplace, online and offline, setting new standards for success.

  • Angel

    Honours visionary angel investors who've significantly contributed to early-stage startups, guiding them toward success.

  • C-Suite

    Recognises exceptional leadership qualities in high-ranking executives, showcasing their management and interpersonal excellence.

  • Creative Maverick New

    Honours unconventional thinkers with exceptional abilities to execute typically unimaginable initiatives, expertly coordinate teams, secure funding or successfully launch multiple ventures.

  • Ecosystem Star

    Celebrates individuals who energise and nurture their communities, fostering engagement and advocacy.

  • Future Builder

    Recognises the determination and resilience of founders who've embarked on the challenging journey of starting their own ventures.

  • Quiet Achiever New

    Applauds the unsung heroes whose behind-the-scenes efforts have led to flawless project executions and exceeded expectations.

  • Splash Down Under New

    Acknowledges international companies making a noteworthy entrance into the Australian market, enriching the local business ecosystem.

  • TopCoder

    Recognises developers for their outstanding technical skills, clean code, and collaborative spirit.

  • Venture Cap

    Salutes venture capital firms with a track record of backing transformative businesses, contributing significantly to Australia's economic growth.

  • Visionary New

    Recognises effective leadership by setting a clear vision, motivating the team, and making strategic decisions that guide their business towards its goals.

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