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Markus Frind the founder of PlentyofFish

Markus Frind is far too lean and thoughtful to be mistaken for a mischievous cherub, but he knows more than Cupid ever will about love potions.

In his vast love machine in downtown Vancouver, the man who brings romance to millions around the world is braced for the most passionate time of the year.

As Valentine’s Day looms, ­PlentyofFish founder and CEO Frind knows that the world’s desire for love, or at least a reasonable facsimile of love, is about to peak.

And what’s in this irresistible potion that typically fuels a 23-per-cent jump in sign-ups at PlentyofFish between Boxing Day and the Wednesday after Feb. 14?

Little guilt trips are one ingredient. PlentyofFish sees spikes in new memberships after most holidays during which families get together, Frind says.

PlentyofFish was born in 2003 when Frind, a graduate of B.C. Institute of Technology’s computer systems technology program, wanted to learn a new programming language.

Frind, who was then working for a Vancouver-based dot-com, created PlentyofFish in his spare time.

“A dating site was the hardest way I could think of at the time to learn a new language,” he says. “In the first month, I made a thousand dollars and from then on I was convinced I should make this thing work.”

He ran the company by himself from a spare bedroom of his apartment for five years until it reached $10 million in annual revenue.

If you resolved to find love in 2015, I have a bit of bad news for you

Your window of opportunity may be a whole lot smaller than you think.

According to forecasts from and Plenty of Fish, two of the country’s largest dating sites, the single most popular time for online dating — the window when the most people sign up, log on and poke around — will be Jan. 4, from roughly 5 to 8 p.m. Zoosk, another data-focused dating site, backs that estimate up; in 2014, it’s most trafficked time was on the Sunday after New Year’s.

In terms of the number of fish in the sea, it’s all downhill from there.

I exaggerate a bit, of course: Match has 2.4 million North American users and Plenty of Fish has 90 million worldwide; by all accounts, you can find a date — if not a particularly good one — on either site, at any time of the year. But there’s no denying the dramatic, slightly heartstring-tugging seasonality in online dating. Across the board, dating sites see way more action between New Year’s and Valentine’s Day than they do any other time of the year.

In other words, millions of people contemplating their return to work on Sunday, hanging out with their cats or their parents or their platonic roommates, will despair and decide to “try out” online dating, after all.

And when Feb. 14 passes without utter disaster, millions of people will give up on love/Internet dating. It’s all overrated, anyway. (Sniff.)

Some of this has to do with the dreariness of the winter months, researchers think: We just have a whole lot of time after the holidays to mess around on the computer.

But there might be something a bit more profound going on here, too. Christmas, for many, is the loneliest season; the change of year is a chance for a new start.


Markus Frind  to Honor Technology Entrepreneur of the Year

Congratulations to Markus Frind, founder and CEO of PlentyofFish Media Inc., the 2013 Pacific Region Information Technology Entrepreneur of the Year

What began as Markus Frind’s moonlighting gig morphed into a global website boasting around 55 million users in mere months.

Frind began PlentyofFish Media Inc., one of the world’s largest online dating sites, back in 2003 while working a day job as a programmer. He was hoping for an easy way to brush up on a new coding language at the time, in order to pad out his resumé. Within weeks, the site began making Frind cash and once he’d accumulated 15 million users, he knew it was time to hire his first employee.

PlentyofFish, which claims more than three million daily users, has come a long way from its early days as Frind’s experimental learning tool. The company is up to 71 employees and continues to grow.

“At the end of the day the only reason you use something is because it works,” Frind says. “Because it worked, people told their friends to use it and then more and more people would use it. So everything I did in the early days was focused on making sure it worked for people.”

Today Frind is focusing on staying ahead of trends and technologies. For example, since the site launched its app in 2011, up to 75 per cent of its users are now landing on the site via a mobile device.

“For us to get more market share, now we have to make online dating acceptable, which basically means it has to be more and more effective for people so they spend less time using it,” Frind explains. “So the less time people spend using online dating and the more effective it is, the more people will start using it.”

Six Questions

The people I learned the most from were teachers in school.

I knew my business was a success when it started making a lot of money.

I get my best ideas early in the morning or late at night.

People tell me the phrase I most overuse is “Ship it now.”

The most underrated trait of an entrepreneur is managing people.

If I weren’t doing this I’d be watching the grass grow.


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