When Markus Frind founded Plenty of Fish in 2003, he said that he just needed to learn a new programming language and the best way to do that would be through creating a dating site. He ended up running the site out of his apartment for five years, and found some friendly competition in a well-known face on The Disruptors — co-host Bruce Croxon, founder of Lavalife, who sat down with Frind for an interview.
“There isn’t really much innovation in the dating space. The features we have today are the same that we had five years ago.”
While Lavalife had 400 employees and a paid service, Frind worked on the site alone and made it the largest dating site in the world. For his part, Frind said he wasn’t too focused on beating Lavalife, and instead turned toward the US market and focused on acquiring users by keeping the service free rather than monetizing. “I find it ironic because many of the tech ideas on the show really emphasize that it’s not about the technology anymore because you can be up and running very quickly, it’s really a marketing barrier to entry. But you were pioneering that back in 2003,” Croxon said.
Frind had a lot of offers to sell the business during his time running it as the sole shareholder, but he wouldn’t sell until 2015 for $800 million — just because he was tired. “There isn’t really much innovation in the dating space; the features we have today are the same features we had five years ago. It just got kind of boring and I wanted to do something new.”
Speaking with co-host Amber Kanwar after the Frind interview, Croxon said that Frind was right that there hasn’t been a lot of innovation in their former industries. “Tinder is the only real innovation, but it’s a swipe to the left, that’s the extent of it,” Croxon said. “But the guy is very supportive of Canadian technology, he has invested in Round 13 to get that $1 million to 3 million cheque to Canadian companies looking to scale, and he’s also gone direct into a lot of companies. I’m very proud that this exit happened in Canada and to have competed with him.”
Watch the full interview below:
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