Deep Dives
min read

The Overnight Success Guide to _SOUTHSTART

Written by
Will Richards
Published on

On the 5th of March, the Australian startup world will 'go down south' to Adelaide for the best festival on the startup calendar for a smorgasbord of insightful discussions, reflections and interactive workshops. 

It's a shame the festival runs for less than five days. There is enough quality content for it to be spread out across a week, but what is life without a bit of FOMO? 

Photo Credit: Baxter William

Due to this, attendees will have to make pretty sharp decisions on which stage they attend during the day. On Wednesday, five stages will run simultaneously at VILLAGE (the main conference), but attendees are welcome to jump between sessions in a nod to the “choose your own adventure” format.

The big decision comes on Thursday when attendees are bussed to separate vineyards for several hours for an immersive experience, which culminate in a shared sundowners at Chalk Hill. 

The entire experience is also threaded together with conversation themes. These often juxtaposed themes dictate the underlying tone of the events and the challenges they'll debate. 

The conversation threads include asymmetry & alignment, startups & investing, humans & machines, technology & culture, growth & scale and people & planet.

Thankfully, to aid in our research, Overnight Success ran a ticket giveaway for _SOUTHSTART, and entrants were asked which _SOUTHSTART event they were most excited about. This data, compiled with last year's experience, means I'm as trusty a guide as Dora The Explorers Map. 

Let's start at the start

_SOUTHSTART kicks off on Tuesday 5 March at 5 PM with SOCIAL. The perfect amuse bouche to wet the whistle and meet a few friendly faces you'll spend some time with over the next few days. If you're in town, this is a must-visit, accessible with platinum and gold tickets. 

Hot tip: download the event app and request a few catch-ups with other attendees. 

Wednesday, their main conference, “VILLAGE”,  at 8 AM. For the uninitiated, The Garden of Unearthly Delights is a real place; yes, it lives up to its name.

Official proceedings start at 9 AM with a Welcome to Country and Cleansing Ceremony led by Jack Buckskin. 

Photo Credit: George Sotiropoulos

When the clock strikes 9:45 AM, attendees have free rein to “choose their own adventure” across the TOWN SQUARE, DEAL ROOM, GROWTH PAVILION, IMAGINARIUM and NEXTGEN. 

Our pick here, especially for early-stage founders, is to head to the DEAL ROOM to attend Ditch The Deck! Perfect the Art of Storytelling hosted by Nir Zavaro

The mid-morning session of choice, kicking off at 10:30 AM in NEXTGEN, is called Creative Collisions - empowering creativity with AI. This session is hosted by Jessie Hughes of Leonardo Ai and Ben Grabineer from Sidestage Ventures. This session will enlighten, Jessie is the Senior Creative Technologist (Artist-In-Residence) at Leonardo AI and has worked with Meta, Oculus and Abode. This is a must-see for genuine, authentic insights into the future of AI and creativity. 

Photo Credit: Baxter William

At 11:15 AM, the longer sessions kick in. TOWN SQUARE hosts a long-form discussion called Reimagining Our Collective Tomorrows, which will pull on the treads of technology & culture. Simultaneously to this session is a discussion called Love, Sex and… happiness? led by the venerable Bryony Cole alongside Murray Galbraith. 

At midday, Kate O’keeffe and Fiona Triaca from will discuss how to run Cheap and Cheerful Growth Experiments. This session is my pick to be the most information-dense of the festival.

But wait, there's more

Startup Pitches will kick off the afternoon in the DEAL ROOM. A lively discussion is sure to be held in the TOWN SQUARE with Joan Westernberg, Jessy Wu, Rachel Neumann and Simon Thomsen debating power structures. Expect a few pearls of Wu-zdom from Jessy and the crew here.  

The other must-see for the afternoon session is the 2:00 PM interview with Luke Anear, the CEO & Founder of Safety Culture

Good Nights

Wednesday concludes with LANEWAY at Gilbert Place. You'll have a choice of venue to party at but our hot tip is to treat this like a pub crawl.

Photo Credit: Baxter William


UNTETHERED kicks off on Thursday morning at 9:00 AM from the Lot Fourteen Departure Lounge and features five distinct experiences for attendees to choose from. 

Each experience is held at a different location across the Mclaren Vale and the Fleurieu Coast, with coach buses provided with your ticket. 

Looking to caffeinate before a big day? Airwallex and Cake are hosting coffees at Exchange Coffee from 7:30 AM. If you're looking to see a bit more of Adelaide while you're in town, feel free to join the Startup Striders _SOUTHSTART run, which will depart from the Community Cafe at 7 AM for a leisurely run through the Botanic Gardens and along the River Torrens. 

SOUL, is an experience hosted at Down the Rabbit Hole with Vicki Stirling of the Startup Network and Dar Pan from the Living Heart Foundation. SOUL is for those deep thinkers looking to connect better with their inner selves. The rumour mill says this session is the most requested for the day by attendees and was high on our list of submissions. 

Photo Credit: Baxter William

D'arenberg's beautiful cube will play host to HE(ART) and the fusion of art, culture, and a culinary-tasting adventure. This session is hosted by wine expert Chester Osborn, a worthy contender for those who enjoy the finer things. 

BODY at Pearl in Aldinga is your destination for a more physical experience, including meditation, breathwork and some physical movement. This session will include a guided session from Triton Tunis-Mitchel from Human.Kind, alongside activities led by Julie Trell of Playful Purpose

Beresford Estate in the Mclaren Vale will host human interest stores from business leaders. The session is hosted by Simon Thomsen from Startup Daily. MIND is perfect for those who want to take a more backseat approach to the day and absorb great conversation while enjoying great food and wine. 

Photo Credit: Baxter William

Finally, the Angel investors and dealmakers from Aussie startups across Australia will come together at Star of Greece in Port Willunga for FUN(D). This session is facilitated by Josh Garratt, the 2023 Australian Angel Investor of the Year and will play host to formal discussions across investment trends and insights. Weather permitting, the session will kick off with a celebration on the beach. While not stipulating what this is, I'm hoping it'll be a Top Gun Maverick-esque game of beach football. 

After these sessions, guests will be ferried back to Chalk Hill in a happier and fuller state, in more ways than one, for the Sundowner Soirree.

This session marks the culmination and end of the festival for all. The setting sun will allow attendees to reflect and share their experiences. 

Subscribe to newsletter

Subscribe to receive the latest start-up news in your inbox every week.

By clicking Subscribe you're confirming that you agree with our Privacy Policy & Terms of Use.