Sunday Snippet: Markus Frind, Plenty of Fish

“What I’ve done is unique – there is no one else to relate to. I just focus on beating myself and trying lots of new things.”

How’s this for a local success story? A Vancouver entrepreneur decides to launch an online dating site and runs it entirely on his own from his home for a number of years. Despite the site’s astronomical growth, said entrepreneur only assembles a skeleton crew of employees to help him with daily operations. Fast forward a little over a decade later and he’s selling the site for US$575 million. That’s the story of Markus Frind and Plenty of Fish.

To say that the tale of Markus Frind is unique would be quite the understatement. Even when we look at the burgeoning startup community in Vancouver today, many of these young companies look for funding from venture capitalists and angel investors. There are often at least a couple of co-founders who are able to share the responsibilities, in addition to the support and services they’d get from freelancers, contractors, and other people who want to get involved.

And when most of us stop to consider our ambitions, our dreams and our goals, we look to those who came before us for inspiration. We might look at how a couple of students from Stanford went on to create the world’s largest search engine. Or how a humble site originally intended only for Harvard students grew to become the world’s largest social network. But not Markus Frind. That’s not what he did.

The problem with attempting to emulate the success of other people is that you cannot possibly follow exactly the same path. Even if you could copy their decisions and do exactly the same thing, your circumstances will differ and your outcomes cannot possibly be the same. Trying to be someone else is a waste of who you are. While you can learn from the journeys of those who precede you, you must ultimately carve your own path and discover your own success.

Stop comparing yourself to others. Simply work toward being a better “you” today than you were yesterday. You define your own measure for success.

That’s exactly what Markus Frind has been able to achieve with his “little” dating site and it didn’t even take a healthy rivalry for him to get there. Perhaps it is with a not-so-small dose of irony that he is now selling his site to what was once his greatest competitor. And he’s more than half a billion dollars richer for it.