CBA’s venture-scaling entity, x15ventures, together with Australia's leading Impact Network for emerging technology startups and scale-ups, Stone & Chalk, have officially launched Xccelerate21 – a high touch, high-impact program that provides founders access to mentors and experts to help them accelerate the growth of their business.

In what was to be an in-person launch (but had to quickly pivot to a live webcast due to the recent lockdowns), Tuesday’s virtual event featured presentations and a panel discussion about how emerging technologies are disrupting the retail industry, and how building digital businesses can deliver the next generation of services to customers in the retail space.

Speakers included x15ventures Managing Director Toby Norton-Smith and Head of Portfolio Yish Koh; Stone & Chalk CEO Alex Scandurra; and other special guests including Zip Co Non-Executive Director John Batistich; CBA Executive Manager, Ecommerce Product Management, Omaya Robinson; and CBA Head of Shopping, Rochelle Eldridge.

Speaking directly to an audience of experienced entrepreneurs and industry, Stone & Chalk CEO, Alex Scandurra, emphasised the importance of programs like Xccelerate and called for applications.

“x15 and Stone & Chalk are focussed on bringing together key players across the innovation ecosystem to support the growth and success of Australian start-ups; to help them scale into successful businesses that contribute significantly to Australia’s future economic prosperity,” he said. 

x15ventures Managing Director, Toby Norton-Smith, spoke to the ways x15 works with entrepreneurs – to launch thriving new ventures – and supports the startup community.

“In early 2021 we acquired Doshii; a modern cloud platform and marketplace which brings together venues, Point of Sale (POS) and apps in the one place for small and large hospitality venues and outlets.

“This year, x15 also made its first minority investment in bill smoothing app Payble, and partnered with the Startmate Fellowship Program to support women looking to land a job at a start-up,” he said.

To discuss the experience of being part of the x15 fold, Elliott Donazzan, Founder of Payble, and James Bowe, Founder OwnHome, were welcomed for a virtual fireside chat.

James Bowe, who was the most recent winner of Xccelerate20, spoke about the opportunities that Xccelerate has brought to their startup.

"OwnHome's mission is to turn renters into homeowners, helping Australians get into their own homes sooner and onto the property ladder. The Xccelerate program is more than money, we needed experts that could help us scale. In the last few months we’ve expanded from Tim and I to a team of five and we’re now on the cusp of getting our first customers into their ‘OwnHome’," he explained.

Payble was the first minority investment that x15 made, and has since flourished.

"Payble is a better way for merchants to get paid. Our platform increases cash collection, lowers contact centre costs and reduces consumer churn and frustration," Mr Donazzan explained.

“My goal in partnering with x15 was to get in front of business customers, and that’s happened. x15 connected us to the CommBank transaction bank, where we’ve been introduced to merchants that want to reduce the number of failed or late customer payments they receive. We have a number of projects in the works and are working rapidly towards launch,” he said. 

Industry heavyweight John Batistich spoke to the importance of the retail experience for customers and stressed that companies need to adapt to the ever-changing digital world.

“Physical stores used to own sensory, experiential and social shopping whilst ecommerce used to own convenience, range, price and home delivery. Ecommerce is transforming to become more experiential and social through live online events, shopping groups, augmented reality, gaming and influencers that connect discovery with purchase with one click.

“Entrepreneurs have a unique opportunity to leverage the structural shift towards online shopping by helping retailers retain their best customers, optimise supply chains, improve the payment experience, expedite delivery and make the customer relationship more personalised,” he said.

Rochelle Eldridge talked about CBA’s division focus that brings the best shopping experiences and insights to customers and provides insights and considerations for entrepreneurs entering the world of retail from a banking and consumer lens.

“CBA has more than 7.5 million digitally active customers. So if we can find value for our consumer customers by connecting them to great deals our merchants offer, then everyone wins.

“I am excited about how we are playing our part in leading Australia’s recovery by helping to support local business through building a world class rewards programme and a shopping experience that is a real point of differentiation for our customers,” she said.

x15’s Yish Koh closed the event with an audience Q&A and a final callout. “We’re open and excited to meet founders that have deep domain expertise, an early product in the market with a handful of customers, and are willing to make the jump into start-up land,” she said.

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. For more information and to enter Xccelerate21, visit

About Xccelerate21: Xccelerate21 is a high touch, high-impact program that provides founders access to mentors and experts to help them accelerate the growth of their business. Founders will learn how to grow their start-up with support from our partners and gain industry insights from CommBank experts on what it's like working with a large corporate. The winning team will be offered a $150,000 investment from x15 through a standard SAFE note. For more, visit:

About x15ventures: x15ventures is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank, with funding from CBA's $1 billion annual technology investment envelope, its own delivery model, and a dedicated management team. x15ventures is working with leading global businesses, including Microsoft, KPMG, to deliver ongoing expertise and support for digital innovators. The CBA venture-scaling entity is building the next generation of solutions for our 15 million customers and beyond by unlocking new value from CommBank's assets through partnerships with the tech and innovation community. x15ventures partners with seasoned entrepreneurs, offering them support, guidance and access to CBA's customer base and distribution networks. For more, visit:

About Stone & Chalk: Stone & Chalk is Australia's leading Impact Network™ for emerging technology. Together with their resident founders, mentors, investors, industry, and government partners, they have a proven track record in providing growth and commercialisation support for start-ups and scale-ups. Residencies in their innovation hubs in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide provide access to customers, capital, talent and expertise, in addition to incredible opportunities for community collaboration. For more, visit: