Commonwealth Bank’s venture-scaling entity, x15ventures, together with Startmate recently held an event that welcomed close to 100 talented, ambitious women from a multitude of backgrounds, and provided them with the opportunity to network and hear about the skills needed to thrive in the startup world.

Well known in the ecosystem, Startmate is the epicentre for startup ambition in Australia and New Zealand.  Its Fellowship program creates pathways for talented individuals to find their spot on a rocketship startup.

Held at x15ventures’ headquarters at The Foundry, the Autumn21 all-women Startmate Fellowship heard from x15 and its individual ventures’ female leaders to learn about what it is like to work in a venture-builder and a startup.

During the event’s main panel discussion, hosted by x15’s Nonny Klaile, and featuring the company’s Head of Portfolio, Yish Koh; Strategy and Operations Senior Manager, Lucy Foster; Vonto’s Chief Operating Officer, Faith Forster; and Home-in’s Head of Operations, Nikki McNamee; the participants spoke candidly about making the leap from corporate to startup. 

“There’s a lot of problem solving, testing and learning. You lean-in and you learn fast on what works and what doesn’t, which is exciting,” Ms McNamee said.

The panel participants also discussed the skills professionals operating in the startup space need, with Mrs Forster commenting that being comfortable with ambiguity is critical.

“You fill whatever gaps are needed and there has to be a willingness to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. You don’t know what it’s going to be like day-to-day or week-to-week, but I think that’s part of the fun,” she said.  

Reflecting on what it’s like being part of a venture-builder, Ms Koh said it’s unique to what any other organisation is doing in Australia.

“I love that we haven’t done this before,” she said.

The panel also discussed the relationship between CBA, x15ventures, and the individual businesses, and spoke about how the teams leverage the pink and green brand versus the yellow brand.

“One of the things I love about working at x15 is the balance of autonomy, the ability to influence and being empowered to think about things differently,” Ms Koh said.

Ms McNamee said the funding, customer base, trust and reputation of the bank had incredibly strong benefits for Home-in that offered real value back to their customers.

When asked about the challenges facing them, the panellists said they were the kind that made working in a venture-builder and startup exciting.

“In a startup, the breadth of experience and knowledge you gain across strategy, operations, legal, and governance is very different to a corporate where you have whole teams dedicated to these areas,” Ms Foster said. “And whilst the stakeholder piece can be challenging at times, the level of support and having access to experts is huge.”

Ms McNamee echoed this, saying, “having access to the exceptional talent and expertise of x15 is invaluable – it’s clear that the whole Group is committed to the success of our business,” she said.

Wrapping up the event, Head of the Fellowship, Sophia Witherington, said it was amazing to be able to provide so many women with the opportunity to connect and network with each other as well as some exceptional founders, operators and investors.

“At Startmate, we aspire to help talented individuals identify their goals, values and passions. In doing so, we encourage our Fellows to not simply think about their next job, but their longer-term career journey,” Ms Witherington said.

To learn more about x15ventures, visit here and to learn more about the Startmate Fellowship visit here.