Simplifying the ecommerce shopping and comparison experience and finding ‘just the right item’ is the mission for Aussie startup Splashup, and they are now one-step closer to achieving that goal after securing a $150,000 SAFE note through Commonwealth Bank’s venture-scaling entity, x15ventures.

Announced this morning, Splashup co-founders, Nathalie Rafeh and Vivek Bharadwaj, are the winners of Xccelerate21 – a community program that supports experienced, early-stage founders to connect with the x15 team and pitch for funding.

This year, Xccelerate21 asked founders to reimagine how customers shop, pay and are rewarded throughout their retail experience. 

More than 80 experienced founders and entrepreneurs applied to take part in this year’s program – all done virtually due to Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions. From there, only 10 were invited to the Community Day, which concluded with five selected to pitch to x15ventures at its Pitch Day event, held yesterday afternoon.

After pitching to a panel of judges – made up of x15ventures’ Managing Director Toby Norton-Smith, Head of Portfolio Yish Koh and Portfolio Adviser Janey Martino; as well as CBA’s Head of Shopping Rochelle Eldridge and Head of ecommerce Omaya Robinson; and external adviser Non-Executive Director at Zip Co John Batistich – it was Splashup that most impressed the judges in the shark tank-style event.

Splashup co-founder and Xccelerate21 winner, Nathalie Rafeh, said the team was thrilled about the win and having the backing of x15.

"Splashup's proposition is to integrate with ecommerce websites and be a product discovery experience on-top; helping shoppers nudge their specific results until they find the one they love, like finding a 'similar dress but with a different cut' or a 'similar top but on sale'.

“It gives us a lot of excitement and confidence in bringing our vision to life and becoming the market leader in our space,” she said. “Being an AI retail startup in Australia, it is absolutely phenomenal to see industry support offered through the Xccelerate21 program, which is exactly what we’ve been looking for.”

Ms Rafeh continued, saying access to the CBA network, expertise present in the program, and the funding will take Splashup to a new level.

“The retail landscape is changing rapidly with a lot of opportunity to pave the way for the new era of ecommerce. The enthusiasm shown by x15 for what we are doing at Splashup and our area of play was enough for us to know that Xccelerate21 is the right place to be – we believe the team will help fuel us in the right direction.”

x15ventures Head of Portfolio, Yish Koh, said: “The retail sector in Australia is poised to become one of the largest beneficiaries of digital disruption, yet when searching online we’re overwhelmed by choice and comparison is so difficult. At x15, we’re focussed on accelerating the pace of change, and through our Xccelerate21 program, we’re able to open our doors to earlier stage startups and entrepreneurs, help test and evolve their thinking, and reimagine the store of the future,” she said.

It is these ever-evolving customer needs that has seen CBA focus its technology strategy on reimagine its products and services for customers, including small businesses.

Ms Koh continued: “It’s for this reason we selected Splashup as the winning team. They’re taking a customer-led approach to reinventing the shopping experience, while supporting retailers to improve conversion and gather more data on what customers are looking for. We’re so excited to see the team succeed and look forward to working with them – congratulations!”

Splashup will be mentored by retail expert, John Batistich, who said: “I am excited to mentor Nathalie and Vivek as they work on this incredibly complex retail problem. Ecommerce is an incredibly competitive space and online stores are always looking at new ways to increase revenue opportunities. I look forward to helping Splashup unpack this problem and refine the Splashup product offering.”   

Splashup was one of the five finalists in the Xccelerate program, with other finalists including:

  • Four2: is a customer recommendation platform that provides the best offer, price, or discount for each customer and increases a company’s income and customer satisfaction.
  • Shop You: redefines shopping with its virtual mall – an Omni channel experience for shopping centres, retailers and customers.
  • Sales Optic: betters the way sellers see, analyse and understand sales data.
  • Bramp: describes themselves as a strategic all in one branding platform for startups and SME, they can offer the full spectrum of branding services for an extremely accessible price point.

As the winner of the 2021 event, Splashup is in good company, with previous Xccelerate winners going from strength to strength.

Frances Atkins, Co-Founder of givvable and winner of Xccelerate20, said: "Since winning Xccelerate last year, givvable has acquired new listed and government customers into its early access program, reflecting the visibility the program gives startups as these were almost all unsolicited. With x15 funding and support from Microsoft, it has also been able to scale its operations both here and overseas, now capturing over 150k suppliers across 300+ local and global sustainability credentials - and growing."

Co-Founder of OwnHome, Tim Harley, said: “Since Xccelerate20, OwnHome has gone on to raise $3.6 million from a number of the world’s most successful investors and executives of US peer businesses, who are all excited by the opportunity to bring innovative pathways to homeownership for aspiring homeowners in Australia.

“The backing of x15ventures has been a boon for OwnHome, providing assurance to waitlisted customers and investors alike. It is great to work with Australia's largest bank as they invest behind small, customer-obsessed teams delivering innovative solutions,” he said.