Member matching system


Creating a member matching system for The Upside community

One of the most difficult parts of a community business is building relationships that tie the community together, and keep people engaged.

The Upside is a community of independent consultants, all of whom are successful, busy, and have plenty of alternative options to spend their time.

Yet, The Upside managed to build an award-winning community with high member retention and no paid advertising. One of the keys to their success is connecting members together for 1:1 meetings. 

CEO and founder Erin Halper used to spend hours every week playing matchmaker, and using her deep knowledge of her members to individually match them together for 1-1 meetings.

As the membership grew, she turned to spreadsheets until they got more and more convoluted.

She tried an online matching tool, but ended up spending too much time uploading data into the system and tweaking it to get the results she was looking for. 

“There are times when you want an off-the-shelf product and times when you need to build something yourself. With an outside matching technology costing us $6k per year, and still not exactly what we wanted, Gio suggested building it ourselves. It turned out to be the exact right decision. He was able to take the matchmaking ‘special sauce’ that I was doing manually and parlay that into a proprietary technology that we owned and could tweak as needed. Knowing how to connect people to one another in a meaningful way is an art. Knowing how to turn that art into a scalable technology takes ingenuity. Thanks to Gio, we now have both!”

Erin Halper

Datos had already created a member directory app in for The Upside that enabled members to find each other based on their profile information. Now, we just needed to create some new interfaces and use that data in a different way. 

Here are some of the elements we needed to build:

  • An admin interface to control the entire experience, including:
    • Setting the date for each part of the round to occur
    • Choosing multiple choice questions for matching members
    • The ability to manually approve and modify or create matches to override the algorithm if needed
    • Reviewing results of the round
  • Dynamic emails for inviting members to rounds, introducing their matches, and sending feedback surveys. 
  • A few user interfaces for members:
    • An opt-in screen to answer the round’s questions and set preferences, including members they already know/would prefer not to meet with
    • A way to view the profile of a member they are matched with
    • A feedback survey
  • An algorithm to match members based on their answers to the questions

This is a rough flow chart of how each round of matching goes:

We already had member data in Bubble due to a directory that we built. We also had semi-structured data from Google Sheets that we could feed into the system to get started.

Tool Selection:

  • for the admin and user interfaces and some of the backend logic
  • N8N for connecting to other tools and running the matching algorithm
  • Postmark to send dynamic emails with information from the system

Database Schema:

  • Matching round
  • Match feedback
  • Match record
  • Match logs
  • Questions
  • Question options
  • Question answers
  • Users

The initial build took 30-40 hours, and we made additional updates to the system over time to add functionality including a completely new type of asymmetrical, one-to-many matching round to match new members to multiple legacy members based on their common industries and interests. 

Here are some screenshots of the admin interface:

To protect The Upside’s proprietary software and methods, I have excluded screenshots of the member user-interface, which features a simple, typeform-like question & answer wizard that must be completed to opt in for a round. 

This completely custom matching system still has high member engagement years later, whereas the previous solution they’d tried had a decreasing engagement rate over time. 

By building this tool that they have complete control over, The Upside has increased the value of their business, dramatically reduced recurring costs, and increased operating flexibility. 

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