October 28, 2021

Thrive Insider

Exclusive stories of successful entrepreneurs

Sharon Melamed Founder and Managing Director of Matchboard

Who are you and what business did you start?

I’m the Founder and Managing Director of Matchboard, an online business which I started in 2012. Only when I hit my 40s, after 20+ years in the corporate world, did I pluck up the courage to pursue my entrepreneurial dream.

What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I always loved introducing people and in fact matchmade teachers and even members of my family. When I got the entrepreneurial bug, it did cross my mind to build a dating site but there were so many of those, I wanted to build something new and original. Then it hit me that there was no B2B version of a dating site, in other words a site that matched buyers and suppliers of different business services. So that was the concept of Matchboard and 9 years later, we’ve grown to thousands of clients with double-digit growth every year except a blip in 2020 with Covid.

Describe the process of launching the business.

I launched the business from my living room having resigned from a senior business development role. My first task was to find a developer for the matchmaking platform, and I had a fairly frustrating experience using search engines to try to find my perfect match – which just underscored the gap in the market for Matchboard to fill! With no suitable options locally, I luckily found a boutique software development company in Israel, on a holiday I’d planned before resigning. They offered to develop the platform at cost, in exchange for the rights to use the source code in the domestic Israeli market (which I had no desire to enter). Such an entrepreneurial approach, and I snapped up the offer! While the developers were busy developing, I spent those few months signing up 100 suppliers in anticipation for launch. On day 1, I posted on LinkedIn asking connections for a favour – to share matchboard.com.au with their networks. I immediately scored my first 3 customers, and from that day on, knew the business was going to be viable!

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

The single biggest source of customers on our platform is SEO. Apart from that, LinkedIn, PR, and a referral partner program are all important. To stay top of mind, we send a monthly newsletter to several thousand subscribers, and invest as much time as possible in customer relationship development. When customers come through our platform to find suppliers and have a great experience, then they often come back again for different needs, or tell their colleagues in other departments.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

In 2021, we celebrated our best year ever, ironically in the thick of the pandemic. Covid prompted us to develop an original B2B events concept which has taken off. Both the events and our matching platform are scalable businesses, which makes the future look very bright!

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I’ve learned that you can run a successful tech startup without being a techie; that the definition of success is very personal and usually does not involve making squillions of dollars; and that values are the anchor of everything in business.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

The apps I use regularly are LinkedIn, Canva, Mailchimp, Xero and Google Workspace. That’s in addition to our proprietary matchmaking software.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

A few business books I’ve found really insightful are: Platform Revolution, Secrets of Online Entrepreneurs, and Matchmakers. And I found Deep Thinking by Garry Kasparov so thought-provoking on the topic of humans and AI and our future together!

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Never underestimate the challenge of finding customers. Research growth hacks and experiment with a few!

Where can we go to learn more?

Please visit https://www.matchboard.com.au/.