May 19, 2020

What other businesses can learn from Plentyoffish founder's success

Canada
Vancouver
Entrepreneur
website
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3 min
What other businesses can learn from Plentyoffish founder's success

You’ve heard of Plentyoffish.com, right? Whether or not you’ve actually used the online dating site, you’re most likely familiar with it. What you may not know is the founder’s history.

Markus Frind originally started Plentyoffish.com in his Vancouver apartment. And according to the Globe and Mail, six years after the business was up and running, Frind still hadn’t hired any other employees or raised any sort of venture capital — not a good sign in the startup world.

However, Plentyoffish.com later became the largest dating site in the entire world. How? Why? And can other entrepreneurs and businesses learn from his success story?

RELATED TOPIC:  [INFOGRAPHIC] Learn about online marketing for your business

In May 2009, Frind’s site was getting more than 2.2 billion page views a month, as well as generating millions of dollars in revenues. “Somehow I still managed to create the largest dating site in the world without a single employee and travel the world,” he wrote on his blog.

Just last week, Frind,37, proved that he is one of Canada’s most successful entrepreneurs—he sold his online dating site for  USD 575 million. Though rival dating site Match Group has purchased the company, Frind plans to stay with the business until next year.

What’s the man’s reason for selling? The birth of his daughter.

“Having a 10-month old daughter, you start measuring time in different increments. Every day you see something’s different [with my daughter]—whereas before you measured the company in milestones in terms of the revenue or user growth or some kind of company target.”

RELATED TOPIC: Tips for CEOs to balance family and work

 So, how has Frind managed to do it? For starters, he “bootstrapped” his company. He never once took an investment from venture financiers, even though he had several opportunities. Therefore, he doesn’t have to share proceeds with outsiders.

And while this approach may not be an option for everyone, it’s definitely a business method that all entrepreneurs should consider—in all countries.

Frind, who has a diploma in computer systems from the B.C. Institute of Technology, started his business with a rudimentary website—that’s step one. He had no advertising budget, no business plan and really no experience.

However, because his site was free and provided people with what they were looking for, it almost instantly became successful. And that seems to be the secret to success—in any industry—give the people what they want.

“If no one’s successful on your site, no one is going to use it,” Frind once said.

Of course, along the way, Frind had to teach himself about marketing, business development and product. But he did all of this and he never gave up. Perseverance could be argued as being step two.

Equally important, Frind constantly tweaked the site algorithm, monitored traffic, analyzed how many people visited the site, what they did on the site and if they bothered to come back to it.

Simply put, hard work, dedication, drive and having a focus on data and predictive analytics can really pay off.

RELATED TOPIC: The rising success of Canadian Tire and the lessons to be learned

[SOURCE: The Globe and Mail]

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Jun 13, 2021

Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl

CMO
Kyndryl
IBM
Leadership
Kate Birch
5 min
Former CMO for IBM Americas Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl. Maria talks about her new role and her leadership style

Former Chief Marketing Officer for IBM Americas, and an IBM veteran of more than 25 years, Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl.

Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.

With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.

You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?

I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.

We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.

What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?

I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.

The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.

I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.

What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?

When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.

What does success look like to you?

I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.

What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?

I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.

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