Aussie company innovates with B2B matching

Using modern technology, business matching company Matchboard is redefining the way companies, suppliers and clients find each other.

Matchboard is a free online service using proprietary software to match buyers with suppliers in the niche area of customer acquisition, customer service and customer experience.

Founder Sharon Melamed said that, after 20 years in senior sales roles for a variety of major corporate organisations, she recognised a niche in the market and decided to go into business for herself.

“People spend huge amounts of time searching online for suppliers of products and services, and it’s virtually impossible for people to cut through thousands of search results to find the ‘perfect match’ for their needs,” said Sharon.

“I saw an opportunity for a matching platform to minimise this time and effort, reducing those hundreds of thousands of search results to a shortlist of between 1 and 5 matches.”

The key to matching suppliers and clients is in the specifically designed proprietary software Matchboard uses.

“The matching software is really what makes our platform unique, and its ease of use and accuracy in matching companies with the right suppliers is critical to generating repeat business,” said Sharon.

“The software scores every supplier in a given category against the specific business need the buyer has entered in a questionnaire.”

The Matchboard verification team performs a quality check on every shortlist generated and then provides contact details and the specific requirements of the request to the suppliers matched with the query.

Setting up her own business was challenging but Sharon said it was immensely rewarding to be free from the strictures put in place by large corporate organisations.

“It felt like I could fly! To be in charge of your own destiny, to be able to add value to society with a new service that didn’t exist before that makes people’s lives easier… that’s very empowering!”

Finding compatible partners

Matchboard describes itself as ‘vendor agnostic’, working with clients to find the solution that best fits the specified needs.

The company assesses suppliers to ensure it can provide a quality recommendation and monitors the service the supplier provides to clients on an ongoing basis.

“Key to our value proposition is that we screen all the suppliers we recommend. This involves at least two client reference checks – and if the supplier is not highly rated they won’t make it into our ecosystem,” said Sharon.

“For a technology supplier we often ask to see a demo; for a call centre, we may conduct a site inspection. This gives our buy-side clients surety around our recommendations – something they can’t get from other platforms or search engines.”

The aim is to provide a shortlist of multiple potential suppliers regardless of whether clients interact with customers through call centres, websites, mobile apps, social media or in person.

“It’s important to keep a healthy balance between supply and demand,” said Sharon.

“To offer value to our supplier base, we need to have significantly more buyers than suppliers in our system. And to offer value to the buy side, we need to have comprehensive coverage in our niche.”

Matchboard uses a business model in which suppliers pay, and clients have access to the matching service free of charge.

“Our primary revenue source is the suppliers, who pay us a success fee when they close a contract with a lead from a match we provide,” said Sharon.

“We also have a revenue stream from buyers – our core matching service is free to use, but we have some premium options available for purchase.”

These premium services include aggregating data to provide insights into purchasing trends for different products and services; and advice around sourcing options, when the buyer is not sure exactly what they want or what’s out there.

Spreading the love to the UK

Having proven its business model in Australia, Matchboard is now looking to replicate its successful operation in the UK.

“We chose the UK because of existing business connections and because analysis of our website showed UK visitors were more engaged than other overseas markets,” said Sharon.

After hearing about EMDG funding from others in the market, Matchboard successfully applied for its first grant in 2016, receiving more than $14,000.

“With the funds from the EMDG, I’ve been able to secure a highly experienced UK-based General Manager Sales, and ramp up the marketing,” Sharon said.

“Frankly, it’s been a game changer. Matchboard is self-funded and without the EMDG, I’m not sure we could have afforded to take the leap internationally so fast.”

Launching in July 2016, early indications are positive for AboutMatch, the UK version of Matchboard.

“We’ve built – and continue to grow – a cream-of-the-cream database of suppliers, our marketing is producing buyers, and numerous contracts have already been signed as a result of our matching service,” Sharon said.

“We’ve also inked strategic partnerships with trade media and industry associations, which are giving us instant access to a large database of relevant customers.”

If AboutMatch continues to perform well, Matchboard is considering entering other international markets.

“But I’d like to spend some time consolidating the UK business and building on the learnings first, before jumping into another foreign market,” Sharon said.