Sharon Melamed, founder and Managing Director of Matchboard, has had a busy couple of years. Since it was established in 2012, Sharon’'s B2B matching service has grown exponentially to assist more than 1,000 clients. Now she is looking forward to similar success for her consultancy matching service, FindaConsultant. Sharon took a break from her managerial duties to talk to The CEO Magazine about her experience on the rollercoaster ride of a successful start-up.

The CEO Magazine: How did your previous experience with Prestige International in Japan inform your leadership approach at Matchboard?

Sharon: The 15 years I spent with Prestige International have really coloured my approach. Japan is a country where business revolves around the customer. This is a concept which I think Australia is only just starting to catch onto, with the emergence of chief customer officers, and customer journey mapping and customer-centricity suddenly appearing on every CEO’s agenda.

In Japan, a department store head may show up on your doorstep to apologise for a product defect, and the CEO of a company routinely visits all its clients at the end of the year to thank them profusely for their loyalty. I’'ve preserved elements of this culture in my start-ups, so everyone on ‘Team Matchboard’ has customer-centricity in their DNA. In many ways, we are a customer-led organisation: we are constantly listening to customer feedback and using those insights to inform our future service offerings.

In addition, business in Japan often emanates from relationships of trust, with less reliance on requests for proposals [!rfps!] and non-disclosure agreements [!ndas!], for example. I believe that this exposure to a trust-based style of business greatly influenced my decision to base Matchboard’'s own business model on trust. Effectively, we trust our suppliers to report to us when our referrals convert to a sale.