Major startup conference SydStart postponed: Here’s why


Leading startup community event SydStart has been postponed for community and financial reasons, leaving many with tickets booked to Sydney and scrambling to make new plans.


The thousands-strong event was scheduled to take place at the Sydney Entertainment Centre in May. The new event will take place at the Hilton in Sydney in September.


The SydStart team announced a partnership with the Australian Securities Exchange just over a week ago. The postponement was announced in a blog post published the following day.


“Due to demands for increase in content (more masterclasses) and quality (venue, location, screening process) we are moving the whole event and the pre-event qualifying series,” read the blog.


Those who can’t make the September event are welcome to apply for a refund for their conference tickets.


“So, while this is an exciting development for our industry and community, it is a change and we know changes can be a hassle in terms of impacting on travel plans and the like. So thanks for your patience and understanding, it will be worth it!”


Event coordinator Pete Cooper told StartupSmart any event decision required a lot of little trade-offs and his team decided to focus on creating the best community experience possible.


“It’s never just one thing,” Cooper says. “What tipped it for me is in the end, we’ll get more international speakers with more lead time and the Hilton has more breakout rooms for classes and meet ups.”


He adds they could have filled the Sydney Entertainment Centre, but were concerned about diluting the community aspect by marketing beyond the core startup ecosystem.


The coordinating team chose to run a smaller more exclusive event with a maximum of 1200 at the Sydney Hilton rather than a 3000+ person event at the Sydney Entertainment Centre.


StartupSmart understands that financial concerns for the event, which is heavily subsidised and aims to break even, also factored in the decision.


SydStart has previously attracted significant sponsors. The 2014 sponsors include web hosting company Anchor, Atlassian, Freelancer, the NSW Government and the University of Technology Sydney.


StartupSmart understands the SydStart team has received significant interest from additional corporate sponsors who required more time to sign the agreements.


Venture accelerator group Blue Chilli is holding a coworking day for those who are unable to reschedule their flights.


Chief executive Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin told StartupSmart they supported the decision but were keen to make it work for those left in the lurch.


“SydStart is one of the biggest and best events that draws a lot of people form interstate. There will be a lot of displaced people who need a home,” Eckersley-Maslin says. “We know what it’s like to book travel and have something cancelled, it’s not a good feeling.”