Last week, Melbourne hosted the amazing Pause festival once again!

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Eight years running now, Pause took 2018 to the next level. With more stages, more sessions, more people, and more to see, it’s no wonder there was an incredible buzz all around Federation Square.

The festival kicked off on the Tuesday night with the VIP dinner. Speakers, guests, and the Pause team had the chance to mull over drinks and food before taking to the stages to entertain the masses. Wednesday morning saw George Hedon, the founder of Pause welcome everyone to three days of learning, engaging, and challenging. He urged us to take it all in, meet new people, and enjoy the three days.

Pause bought new things to 2018, and one of those things included a morning show on the main stage each day. Dara from Project Play would start each morning with dancing, fun, and meet & greets. This got everyone in the mood for the day. I spent all of Day one MC’ing on the Specialist Stage, introducing our speakers, moderating questions, and tuning into the fantastic conversations.

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MC’ing at Riverside on Day 1. Photo credit: PauseFest

We learnt from Tim McDougall of Billy talking about Aged Care and the use of machine learning and sensors to keep people in their homes longer. SouthSouthWest spoke about building successful businesses, and a panel of brilliant ladies from Girl Geek Academy (Sarah Moran), Deakin Spark (Daizy Maan), and Girled World (Madeline Grummet) gave some great insights into our education system and how it needs to change for the new wave of work ahead of us. The panels this year were awesome and we heard from Levi’s Australia (Nicky Rowsell), The Royals (Andrew Reeves), and COMPLEX (Liz Levy) on the social media culture and what it really means to build a successful brand. Our stage was graced with a panel on “is it okay to lie in business?” as well as the future of the festival. My favourite talk however was Vince Baertsoen from The Mill – probably because I’m such a movie buff! Vince talked about the Blackbird project, something that was presented at Pause last year. Rather than rehashing an old talk, Vince gave us the new and improved updated on Blackbird as well as how far the tech had come in just one year.

Day one ended with the opening party at Beer Deluxe – definitely one of my favourite things from Pause is the parties! I’ll get to why later. Day two and three I was pretty much exclusively at Fed Square for the startup expo. The expo was one of the most fun things at Pause, and best of all, it’s completely free!!! The startup expo brings some of Melbourne’s best talent and puts them on show for you to try. This year’s showcase featured everything from MedTech, to beauty, mining, app platforms, electric skateboards, and tonnes more. It’s a chance for the startups to network, and meet some of the inspiring speakers (and potential investors!) We even saw some repeat offenders; BajaBoard, Phoria, and Plattar all came back for round two.

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Some of the amazing ladies from Pause. Left-Right Dara from Project Play, Emma Forster (Pause programmer), Anna Reeves (Pause MC)

The startup expo featured a daily pitch competition – ten startups battling it out for a spot in the finals, and a trip to Silicon Valley with Hacker Exchange. The finals took place on the last day of Pause in front of the crowd on main stage. Our finalists, Choovie, Mine Excellence, and Omny Studio, presented their businesses to our amazing judges, Vanessa an angel investor, Mike Butcher from TechCrunch, and Jeanette from Hacker Exchange. Probably my favourite quote from Pause came from Mike’s take on Mine Excellence:

So, it’s like snapchat for blasting!

These startups received invaluable feedback on their businesses and we wish all the startups all the very best.

Now, back to what I’d promise to talk about… the parties! I said in my Facebook Live interview that the parties are on of the best things about Pause, and I meant it. The after celebrations and networking opportunities are the best thing about conferences. Sure the talks and sessions are incredible, and you gain a wealth of knowledge, but it’s the one-on-one personal interactions I find I get the most out of it. Listening to people’s personal journeys, what they think about certain things, and gaining glimpses of their lives is something awesome. It’s the chance to have conversations with people rather than just listening to what they’ve prepared for their talk. Here’s where you find common ground, experiences you can connect with. From these interactions, I’ve made great friends, valuable contacts, and lasting relationships that have spanned over the past three years I’ve been at Pause.

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The amazing team, speakers, and organisers of Pause

I’m looking forward to another epic Pause for 2019 and I hope everyone had an amazing time. Let me know what you thought of Pause 2018.

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