We talked to Sharon Melamed of Matchboard about the new opportunities she found during COVID and she had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Sharon Melamed: We’re blessed to be living in Sydney, Australia, which has had zero COVID community transmission cases for almost 2 weeks.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Matchboard.
Sharon Melamed: After a 20-year career in business development in 5 countries, I founded Matchboard in 2012. Matchboard is a B2B matchmaking platform, helping companies find their perfect match suppliers of different business services. The truth is I’ve always loved matchmaking and connecting people. Developing a B2B version of a dating site was a natural extension of something I already enjoyed doing! Matchboard is now a successful commercial venture with thousands of clients, including many of the world’s biggest companies. We cover hundreds of services ranging from call centers and digital marketing to offshore staffing and training services.
How does your company innovate?
Sharon Melamed: I think my experience living overseas and studying foreign languages (I speak 5) gives me an edge as it encourages diverse ways of thinking and innovation. For example, Matchboard’s business model is based on trust – we trust suppliers to report their wins when they win a deal we’ve matched them with, as only then do we invoice our success fee. Everyone in Australia told me I’m crazy to build a model based on honesty, but my 15 years’ experience with the Japanese culture, where long-term relationships of trust are at the heart of the business, gave me confidence it would work. And it has worked!
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Sharon Melamed: The March to June period this year was pretty scary as demand on our matchmaking platform halved. During that time, my focus was on being helpful to clients and suppliers, and I took my eye off sales and marketing. It was also a great time for reflection and with every crisis comes opportunity. Through COVID, we realized there was a huge demand for online events, and we evolved our offering to match a supplier with an audience of executives in their target market via an online lunch over a Zoom presentation. It’s been a real hit, and we’ve just wrapped up 7 events in the past 7 weeks. The business really bounced back since July as Australia got the pandemic under control.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Sharon Melamed: Business development is in my blood, so it was hard to put the brakes on and take a different perspective when the pandemic began. The lesson is always to do the right thing for your customers, and they will remember how you helped when times were tough. COVID also reminded me of the importance of what I call “pocket pivots” – small adaptations in your offering, reflecting new market dynamics. You don’t have to change everything, but this mini-pivot mentality is healthy to survive and thrive.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Sharon Melamed: During COVID, I discovered a simple hack to reduce stress: go to Settings on your phone and turn off the alerts for new emails. The impact is immediate! Another strategy I’ve implemented is a daily walk in nature. Not only does nature have a calming influence that relieves stress, but I also find it clears the mind. I arrive back at my desk more focused.
I think you also need to be in a positive frame of mind if you are confronting a challenge, especially when you’re surrounded by such negative news every day, as we have been with this pandemic. You have to believe there’s light at the end of the tunnel. So I did a few things to facilitate a positive mind shift. For a start, I joined a Facebook group called Positive news in the Age of Covid-19, and it’s been inspiring to read so many stories of positivity – whether that be medical breakthroughs or stories of heroism on the frontline.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Sharon Melamed: Our competitors vary from directories and search engines to niche marketplaces. Matchboard’s algorithm helps companies find their “needle-in the-haystack” suppliers faster and smarter than these competitors, so our biggest challenge is just getting the word out. As a bootstrapped business, it’s about steady, profitable growth. We’ll be looking to form big partnerships in 2021 to take it to the next level!
Your final thoughts?
Sharon Melamed: Covid has taught us to have more empathy and be more human in business. This is a wonderful thing, and I think it’s left an indelible imprint that will benefit all of us.
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