x15ventures, Commonwealth Bank's venture-scaling entity, have selected Stone & Chalk, Australia's leading Impact Network for emerging technology startups and scale-ups, to help scout experienced founders to participate in Xccelerate21, which is aimed at reimagining the retail experience.
Xccelerate21 is a fast-tracked program for experienced entrepreneurs and start-up teams to achieve rapid growth through x15ventures. This year, applicants will be invited to reimagine retail, including how customers shop, pay and are rewarded throughout the retail experience.
Once again, the program will see shortlisted start-ups and seasoned entrepreneurs battle it out before expert judges to be offered a $150,000 SAFE note from x15.
x15ventures Head of Portfolio, Yish Koh, said there is so much innovation happening in retail and e-commerce right now.
“With the boom in online and omnichannel retail continuing post-pandemic, and the increasing blurring of the lines between shopping, marketing and financial services, there has been a transformation in how consumers discover new products and expect rewards for loyalty, particularly for millennials and Gen Z.
“We're excited about the opportunity Xccelerate21 gives us to see the best of what's up and coming," she said.
x15 is looking for founders who are early in the development of their startup and are supporting businesses in the digital transition to online or marketplace models; solving challenges around payments and cash flow for both customers and businesses; and connecting businesses with the right customers and ensuring long-lasting relationships.
x15ventures Managing Director, Toby Norton-Smith, said that as a venture-scaler, x15 is focused on building, investing or acquiring ventures that can deliver the next generation of digital solutions.
“The ventures backed by x15 get more than capital - they get access to expertise, technology and security, which can accelerate their path to scale with a strategic partner in CBA.
"Xccelerate allows us to open our doors to earlier stage start-ups and entrepreneurs, help test and evolve their thinking, and for the winner, access early-stage funding and a plan for how they could scale in the future through x15 and CBA," he said.
The launch event, which will be held on 29 June 2021 at Stone & Chalk Sydney and streamed online, will feature a panel discussion about how emerging technologies are disrupting the retail industry and introduce the Xccelerate21 program.
Speakers on the day include Omaya Robinson (CBA), Toby Norton-Smith and Yish Koh (x15ventures), John Batistich (Zip Co), last year's winner James Bowe (OwnHome), and Elliott Donazzan (Payble).
Commenting on the focus for Xccelerate21, Stone & Chalk Group CEO, Alex Scandurra, said the pandemic has undoubtedly shaken the retail sector to its very core.
“It’s prompting retailers to consider new channels and technologies through which they can reach and maintain relationships with their customers.
“We're pleased to support x15 by leveraging the reach through our leading Impact Network, alongside several other ecosystem partners who are committed to shaping the future of Australia's startup scene by supporting innovative founders using emerging technologies to solve real-world challenges,” Mr Scandurra said.
OwnHome Co-Founder and winner of Xccelerate20, James Bowe, commented on what it has been like to go through the program.
"It's been fantastic to connect with the x15ventures team over the past few months as we work towards delivering this new path to homeownership to Australians,” he said.
“In addition, it's great to work with Australia's largest bank as they invest behind small, customer-obsessed teams delivering innovative solutions."
Applications are now open for the upcoming Xccelerate21 program and close on 13 July, with finalists invited for an in-person Pitch Day on 12 August 2021.