Sydney-based HR startup Flare has made two key hires, appointing former Birchbox CTO Liz Crawford as CTO and Jim Matheson, former vice president of marketing and growth at hipages, as CMO.

The appointments follow the startup’s closing of a $21 million Series B round in August . Founded in 2015 by Colin Mierowsky, Daniel Cohen, Jan Pacas, Saul Kaplan, and James Windon, Flare has created an all-in-one human resources platform, assisting businesses with everything from onboarding to payroll through to providing employee benefits.

Crawford is returning to Australia after more than a decade in the US, where she cofounded two startups, completed a PhD specialising in artificial intelligence from Carnegie Mellon University, and spent more than five years as chief technology officer at subscription box company Birchbox.

Here, Crawford built the company’s engineering, product, and data science functions, growing the product development team from zero to 60 staff, and oversaw the scaling of the Birchbox product and technology from supporting a couple of thousand subscribers to more than a million across six countries.

Crawford said she was attracted to the role at Flare because of the product and the people.

“Having a platform like Flare is incredibly helpful in a startup. One of the things Flare does is make management easier, and this frees up time to concentrate on building your business and team,” she said.

“Flare also delivers benefits for employees that feel enticing and exciting, and it puts people and their financial wellbeing first. And that is important to me. The team at Flare are smart, experienced, and driven, and we share that passion for people, combined with the expertise needed to scale a company.”

Charged with growing out Flare’s technology and product teams, Crawford said the opportunities for developers in Australia have “grown massively” since she departed for the US.

With more funding available locally than ever before, she said more companies building “promising products” will have an opportunity to be seen and find a path to raising, growing, and scaling.

“We have incredibly talented developers in Australia, and there is a challenge in communicating the opportunities we’re creating as an industry for people to have successful careers here,” she said.

“In the past there has definitely been a bit of a brain drain, with great talent finding opportunities overseas, but we are excited to see that changing as opportunities increase locally.”

Matheson, meanwhile, is joining Flare from Australian tradie marketplace hipages, where he served as vice president of marketing and growth for two years. He previously led marketing teams through growth at US-based companies SuccessFactors and BlueJeans.

Flare is now serving over 200 clients, among them Sephora, Knight Frank, and General Pants Co, and in turn more than 100,000 employees across Australia.

Employers can provide benefits as varied as discounts on shopping and entertainment to access to financial wellness services, including webinars, in-house seminars, one on one financial health checks, and online financial education and literacy.

Image: Jim Matheson and Liz Crawford. Source: Supplied.

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