Conversations: Sharon Melamed, Matchboard

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Have you experienced a situation where your search for a service provider or business vendor resulted in a ‘less than satisfactory’ outcome? Most likely, the response is affirmative. Digital entrepreneur, Sharon Melamed’s vision is to change this pervasive business problem through her innovative B2B services matching platform, Matchboard.

Tell us about Matchboard and the audience to which you are catering.
Matchboard is a free to use B2B services matching site, which is suitable for all business types and sizes. You simply enter your requirements for a product or service and our platform finds you the ‘perfect match’ of vendors to help. We specialise in solutions around acquiring, servicing and engaging customers, such as digital marketing, call centres, back office outsourcing, sales training and more.

What were you doing when the idea about Matchboard came to you?
Five years ago, I was unhappy in my job. The plus side to that was it motivated me to get OUT!  I consciously started thinking about problems facing a business to see if I could come up with an idea to solve one of them. The problem I identified is something I call “search engine blues” – where people hop online to try to find a new supplier and are overwhelmed with hundreds of thousands of search results. Often, companies that have the best SEO ranking come out on top and usually may not be the right fit at all. I thought there has to be a better way to narrow down that list. I hypothesised that by asking 10 filter questions (such as service type, budget, timeline, location, industry) that made it possible to shrink the search results between one to five suitable options. I tested the idea and it worked, so I quit my job and invested my savings into developing matching algorithms that power our site today.

What is the story behind the name ‘Matchboard’?
We are a matching platform at heart and I wanted a name that reflected that. The “Board” element says we are all about business (as opposed to being a consumer platform) – think “Board of Directors”, “Boardroom”. It also reflects my personal love of board games – I was a Scrabble champion in my younger years and love chess as well!

What is the one thing you have accomplished that you take the most pride in?
Just this April, Westpac named Matchboard as one of Australia’s top “200 Businesses of Tomorrow”. Often as a small business, it’s hard to get recognition, but receiving this prestigious award from Australia’s oldest bank personally was the ultimate endorsement of what I’ve achieved. Westpac had backed AGL and Qantas when they were startups, so they can obviously spot a winner!

What is your vision for Matchboard?
The vision I have for Matchboard is still the vision I started with; that is to help people save time and money in finding suppliers online. This vision was initially limited to the Australian market, but off the back of a government grant, we were able to expand into the UK last year, and I hope our expansion into other markets will follow.

What does success mean to you?
The definition of success is very personal. For some, it is all about success at work, but for me, it’s about success in life with key components being family, health, happiness, and professional and personal fulfilment. The allure of money that comes with business success can be blinding, but I like to stay grounded in the things that really matter. As such, setting an excellent role model for my children is very important to me; I want to set them up for success too.

What business lessons have you learnt from your professional journey that you would share with our readers?
I have a lot of rigour around family commitments and manage to schedule business around that, not the other way. You can never get back those golden years as your kids grow up, and I know too many people with regrets. My advice is, to be honest with yourself about your priorities and be true to them. Beyond this, if you are thinking of starting a business, there is one skill you need in my opinion and that is sales and marketing. Never underestimate how hard it is to find customers!

If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
I would love to talk to the grandmother I never met – a cellist in what is now the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and a great woman. I believe in the power of music on so many levels, and the cello moves me more than any instrument. I’m in awe of professional musicians.

In one word, characterise your life as an entrepreneur.


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