The game-changing sessions at SXSW Sydney

30 March, 2023
The game-changing sessions at SXSW Sydney | News | Pause Awards
George Hedon, founder and CEO, Pause Fest & Awards
George Hedon
30 March, 2023

The Pause Awards has submitted three incredible session proposals for SXSW Sydney, and we need your support to bring these game-changing discussions to the stage! 

Prior to SXSW Sydney, we ran the Pause Fest for over a decade in Melbourne, which was dubbed as ‘Australia’s SXSW’ by the media. We have supported, promoted, engaged at SXSW Austin and hosted talks with one and only Hugh Forrest from SXSW at our events over the years. And we even introduced AusGov to SXSW which led to the formation of Australia House.

Needless to say we are big fans of SXSW, and since Pause Fest is no longer happening in Melbourne (due to lack of state funding) we’re happy to jump over to Sydney to share the best stories from our side of the ecosystem.

Pause Awards, now in its sixth year, has been cultivating and honouring the most ambitious and forward-thinking companies and people in the country. It’s safe to say that our champions are ahead of their game, and so we curated a few sessions.

Let’s dive straight into these sessions but don’t forget to cast your vote for as many as you like, before midnight on 11 April.

Law, DeathTech and Purpose

New Stars of Law, DeathTech and Purpose StartupsVOTE NOW

This session will introduce you to The Separation Guide, Bare Cremation and Great Wrap – the innovative startups that are transforming the fields of marriage, death, and purpose-led businesses. 

We’ll unpack the cutting-edge technology and creative thinking driving these startups to revolutionise traditional industries. And talk about the importance of empathy in creating customer-centric solutions, especially in the emotionally charged areas of marriage and death. 

Growth Hacking

What is Growth Branding and Why, Why, Why…?VOTE NOW

Discover the power of Growth Branding and learn how to create a champion brand that connects with your audience, ensures market dominance and scales faster. George Hedon, behind newly formed HEDON Studio, will share real-life examples, explore how superbrands keep reinventing themselves for long-term impact and delve into the art of crafting. 

Solar Cells, Spray on Skin

From Solar Cells to Spray-On Skin VOTE NOW

Explore the incredible journeys of Fiona Wood, inventors of solar cells and spray-on skin, and learn about their experiences in commercialising research and building a tech startup in an era when startups were still a relatively new concept in Australia. 

Innovation can come from anywhere. The panel will discuss what to look out for while setting yourself up for the adventure of a lifetime, and the importance of perseverance and dedication in overcoming obstacles, remaining flexible and moving fast. 

We believe these sessions will provide attendees with valuable insights and inspiring stories that can help shape the future of various industries. To make these sessions a reality, we need your support! Cast your vote and help us bring these champions to SXSW Sydney.

Every vote counts, and your support will be instrumental in showcasing these groundbreaking ideas at the event. It’s also great to see the Pause Fest & Awards community out together in action. Thank you, and we hope to see you at SXSW Sydney!

Get your votes in before 11:59pm, Tuesday 11 April 2023.

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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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