The content of startup events has played an important role around the design and the overall experience. It’s important that emphasis is placed on not what the event gains from its attendants, but what the attendents gain from the event.

When startups are asked what helps them to transform their vision into a viable product, the overwhelming response is leveraging peer and industry support. To help entrepreneurs tap into collaborative environments and engage with like-minded people, Pause Festival 2017 is bringing a new design and a new era of smart events into Australia.


Fiona Slocombe, an experienced designer joined the founder of Pause, George Hedon in the planning of the 2017 Festival. Slocombe says when creating events you need to think about the event space and the event design and how both of those elements relate to the brand.

“To create a great space you need to create it informed by the brand and what the environment should be. You need to act upon the customer experience and what those interactions should look like,” said Slocombe.

“The design is meant to bring the event to life and bring everything together seamlessly,” she added.

Most of the time interactions between people at events need to be forced, or as Slocombe puts it, “people need to be given permission to engage in conversations.” Many a time it takes entrepreneurs a while to warm up to the idea of speaking with others and sharing their ideas.

To fuel conversation among entrepreneurs, the layout and design of events must allow people to share the same desire.


In creating a smart event, Hedon says it takes a lot of planning, and that planning must be based around learned experiences from previous events.

Hedon explained that at last year’s event there was a lot going on in terms of panels, pitches and competitions, however overall there was not a lot of movement around and in-between each space.

“We thought about how we could create spaces that people can interact and flow through so people can get a true overarching experience over the entire festival,” said Hedon.

Pause Festival is held at Federation Square, which is not your average dark and uncomfortable building. The whole building is made out of glass, filling the spaces with light and an inviting interior.

Last year Hedon says the festival used three spaces, one large space for the main conference area, one small space for the supportive area and another smaller space for brand activation. However while the space itself is important, facilitating creative collisions is what it’s all about.

Traditionally Pause has looked at having a high traffic flow in all spaces, encouraging people to attend events or meetings and then move on. However Hedon explains that now Pause is starting to create spaces with engaging points, rather than just directors of traffic.

Together with Slocombe, over the last 12 months Pause started collecting data from attendees. The data reveals that people on the ground want an event engineered for interaction.


“I’ve been to San Francisco conferences and talked to people there who told me it’s difficult to meet one another and that’s the basic thing that people want to do,” said Hedon.

To provide ways for people to meet and interact at Pause, this year’s festival will be themed in certain areas, so the people who move into the different spaces will have a purpose for being there. Attendees will have the opportunity to flow through each set of the three main stages, which will be surrounded by spaces to network, eat and drink.

“Yes you need to hear this speaker, but also you need to have time to pause and absorb that information, you need to have time to talk to that person who sits next to you, and time to stretch a leg,” said Hedon.

Every year the festival has explored new ground, engaging with different perspectives to reflect on and evolve tech culture simultaneously through world-first keynotes, exclusive workshops and panel debates that won’t be found anywhere else.

Led by a line-up of A-list industry leaders, global design firms and some of the world’s most successful startups, the program reflects Pause’s commitment to only ever bringing its visitors content that cannot be Googled.

With the full line-up schedule set to be announced soon, Pause has thought about how to use space and time efficiently, so attendees don’t miss out on who and what they want to see.

All the action in-between main events will happen in the smaller surrounding rooms. Pause is creating for the first time a coworking space to maximise time spent outside of the office and working day. Pause has designed a coworking space with a lounge, re-fuelling station, coffee pop-up car and areas for guests to mingle.

In addition to smart spaces, Pause 2017 is also packing in smart content with smart ticketing options to allow guests to purchase tickets based around who they are and what they want from the event. Whether you’re an individual wanting a one day pass, or you’re from industry and want to put your colleagues at the forefront to upskill, there are different ticketing options for everyone.

“We hear so many reports of people attending industry events that don’t deliver a return on the investment – both financially and time-wise. Pause is a smart event in every respect: it is packed with smart content; it has smart ticket options with regards to flexibility and budget,” said Hedon.

Pause Fest 2017 will take place at Federation Square on the 8th-10th of February 2017. Tickets can be purchased here.

Image: Fiona Slocombe. Source: Supplied.

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