Interview – Sharon Melamed, Founder, Matchboard

BW Sharon Melamed HeadshotSharon Melamed is a multi-award winning Australian entrepreneur and Founder of 3 matching platforms. Her journey started in 2012, when she founded Matchboard, a free-to-use website where companies can enter their needs and get matched with “right-fit” suppliers. In 2018, Matchboard was crowned “Business of the Year” at the Optus My Business Awards. And in 2017, Westpac named Matchboard as 1 of Australia’s top “200 Businesses of Tomorrow”.  Sharon was named Suncorp Innovator of the Year at the Women in Digital awards, and she also holds LinkedIn’s PowerProfile status for having one of the 50 most visited profiles in Australia. Sharon has a double honours degree from the University of Sydney, and speaks five languages.

Q: How long have you been in the marketing industry?

A: I’ve been running sales and marketing functions for – dare I say – three decades, and that includes stints in New York, San Francisco, Tel Aviv, Tokyo and Sydney. Each place I’ve lived and worked has given me a different perspective. I lived in the US for 10 years through the dot-com and dot-bomb eras and the pace was incredible, perhaps one reason I love working fast even today. But with the dot-bomb crash it also left an indelible impression on me that with all the enthusiasm and creativity in the world, you can’t just jump on a bandwagon and expect success – you still need to get the fundamentals right and have a product or service customers love or find useful. Marketing is nothing without that foundation.

It was living in Israel, also known as The Startup Nation, that really gave me the entrepreneurial bug. In fact if it wasn’t for an entrepreneurial developer in Israel, who offered to develop Matchboard’s platform at cost in exchange for the rights to use the source code in the domestic Israeli market, I may never have got my business off the ground.

Q: How do you maintain success and company growth with the rapid industry changes?

A: It’s hard but exciting at the same time to stay on top of the rapid pace of change. If you stay in a cocoon and don’t learn to swim, you drown, and there are plenty of stories like Blockbuster and Kodak that illustrate that. I think it’s important to get constant exposure to thought leadership, whether that’s through events like CXO Leaders, following influencers on LinkedIn, or downloading educational white papers. Also listen to customers, meet customers in person – their feedback and ideas are gold, so go digging! The business I run is an online platform, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK to sit behind a screen all day.  I also find it useful to meet with vendors because they are often ahead of the game, in terms of being aligned with customer demands before companies even realise what’s going on.

Q: What are the latest market offerings which you see trending over the coming 12 months?

A: Running Matchboard, I’m in a unique position to review new and exciting offerings on the market every week. Here are a few:

  • I see more companies using data to orchestrate and manage customer journeys in a very personalised way. While there’s absolutely a place for customer journey mapping, it tends to be siloed and overlooks the journey of the entire customer lifecycle. New platforms cater to this.
  • Secondly, for those companies looking to outsource customer contact centre work, I see South Africa and Fiji as the emerging destinations to rival the Philippines – both have a huge neutral accent English-speaking talent pool, and a focus on friendly customer experience rather than process and scripts.
  • Finally, I’d call out “analytics-as-service” as a trending solution, whereby companies can hand over customer interaction data to a specialist analytics provider and get insights back on customer behaviours, needs and pain points.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you have received within your career and what is the best advice you would share now?

A: Best piece of advice I’ve received is that when you are doing business with anyone, it has to be a win-win, otherwise it’s not sustainable. Always make sure you are striking partnerships that are fair and bring value to both sides. Now as an entrepreneur, the best advice I can give is that from adversity springs opportunity, and if you are desperately unhappy in your corporate role, maybe that’s fate telling you it’s time to summons your creative energy and build your own business!

Logo resized for web