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x15 hires non-executive chairman

CBA’s investment fintech, x15ventures, has hired its first non-executive, independent chairman and a new portfolio adviser.

Technology venture building entity x15ventures – a wholly owned subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) – has announced that it has appointed Ben Heap as its first non-executive, independent chairman and Jane Martino as its first external portfolio adviser.

Mr Heap has held a number of non-executive director roles at various fintech and financial services groups, including Colonial First State and the Financial Services Council. He served as managing director/head of Australia for UBS Global Asset Management between 2007 and 2013.

He is currently the co-founder and independent chairman of fintech-focused venture capital fund H2 Ventures and serves as a member of the Federal Treasurer’s Fintech Advisory Group.

Speaking about his appointment, Mr Heap said: “Since its launch, x15ventures has had a relentless focus on creating an environment for new businesses to flourish. 

“I look forward to working with the board and the management team to continue this focus and further empower Australia’s innovators to bring new solutions to market,” he said. 

x15’s new external portfolio adviser, Ms Martino, has widespread experience across the marketing, media and digital sectors.

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She has held a range of growth and business management roles spanning 20 years of experience, and is currently a board member of marketing platform Brandcrush, digital services management platform Sorted, and is the co-founder and chairman of mindfulness app and not-for-profit platform Smiling Mind. 

She has previously served as a board member of LaunchVic, the Victorian government’s $60 million fund designed to strengthen Victoria’s entrepreneurial and start-up ecosystem.

In her new role, Ms Martino will reportedly provide insight and recommendations to x15’s investment committee regarding the funding of potential new ventures.

“I believe the next wave of major breakthroughs for customers will be delivered via high-growth start-ups obsessed about solving problems faster and better than ever before,” she said.

“I am excited to be able to help x15ventures identify and support these new opportunities, which will ultimately empower Australian customers like never before,” Ms Martino added.

In welcoming the new appointments, x15ventures’s managing director, Toby Norton-Smith, said: “Jane brings a rare blend of successful entrepreneurial experience and a track record of scaling and growing businesses with venture capital and corporate investors and distribution partnerships – making her the ideal person to support and qualify the next opportunities for x15.”

“I am also delighted to welcome Ben as the non-executive, independent chairman of x15venture’s board. Ben’s long and celebrated career in financial services, as well as his extensive experience in the start-up scene, will help to deepen the board’s existing skills and expertise,” he said.

Mr Norton-Smith continued: “Both of these appointments speak to x15 and CBA’s commitment to bring the right external experience and challenge from the Australian technology, investment and fintech community, to ensure x15 delivers on its promise.”

To date, x15 has provided funding and support to several tech start-ups, including:

Home-In – a virtual home-buying concierge;

OwnHome – a company that purchases homes for home buyers;

Credit Savvy – a free credit score and financial literacy platform;

Backr – a digital platform aimed at helping business owners start their SME; and

Vonto – a digital tool that consolidate business data.

[Related: CBA-owned fintech backs home-buying start-up]

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