From small town to big fish

If you’re single, or recently partnered, chances are good you’ve heard of But what you may not know is that with about 50 million page views a day, and now the number-one dating site in the English-speaking world, Plenty of Fish was started by a BCIT grad.

Markus has run the site out of his apartment since its launch in 2003. Still one hundred percent free for users, the site earns money through advertising revenues. When asked why he doesn’t hire others to help him run the business, Markus responds, “What would they do?” Markus Frind does it all—and he does it very well.

The company’s executive team is listed on the site as follows:

CTO – Markus Frind
CFO – Markus Frind
VP Business Development – Markus Frind
VP Marketing – Markus Frind
Development Team – Markus Frind
Board Members – Markus Frind
Customer Service – Markus Frind and Girlfriend

Markus grew up in 1,500-person town Hudson’s Hope—there were eight people in his high school grad class—and his goal was to get an education and “get out of there.” He enrolled at BCIT straight out of high school, taking up residence on the Burnaby Campus, and enrolled in the Computer Systems Technology diploma program from 1997 to 1999, graduating just before the dot-com crash.

“I was jumping from job to job every six months,” Markus says of that time in his life. “The company I was at went from 20 employees to two or three, then they shut down and I was thrown from project to project. I ended up working as a website and database optimizer. I was able to go in and see where errors were and fix them, which no one else could do. Everyone else could program … but I could fix things and make them work really, really well.”

Markus acquired his hands-on approach at BCIT. “Practical work experience is always better than theory,” he says. “Most of what I learned [at BCIT] I learned doing the labs. The hands-on training was the best.”

Computer Systems Technology (CST) offers both diploma and degree programs, with core courses in software engineering and the role of technology in business and society. The program also provides a competitive cooperative education path, helping students to gain invaluable industry experience while still in school. Computing and IT are now listed by Human Resources Development Canada as one of the country’s most promising occupations; employment in this sector has increased seven times more than overall employment in Canada and wage growth is twice the national average.

Markus’ business goals include incorporating more social networking features into the Plenty of Fish site to “try to stop MySpace and Facebook from taking over the dating industry.” With Facebook’s membership sitting at roughly 70 million, that’s a daunting challenge, one that would have other “executive teams” outsourcing like crazy. But for now, at least, Markus is staying hands-on.

“Right now, my knowledge and skill level [are] growing,” he says, “because the more I do, the more I learn and the more efficient I become.”

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