Recently, I was asked whether or not I would still consider Plentyoffish a startup, or if I felt we had outgrown that classification altogether. The question threw me off for a moment – had we really gotten that big?
Over the years I’ve grown accustomed (and admittedly fond) of the two most common misconceptions surrounding POF and our business – and apparently we’re quite shrouded in mystery. The first scenario has Markus running the company out of his apartment alone, and the other paints us as a huge, faceless, big-business type operation. In reality we are neither of these extremes on the spectrum, but find ourselves in a unique position where we are growing so quickly that each day brings something new and unexpected. As Markus has said to me on more than one occasion, “In six months, everything will be totally different.” And it always is.
When I walked into our sprawling office space two and a half years ago for the first time, no more than six people sat working away at their computer stations, but I knew even then that all that space was to serve a purpose. Since that day, I have witnessed this company transform, evolve, and flourish – proving to be one of the most interesting and educational experiences of my life. As we gear up to add a third office to our headquarters it becomes very clear just how far we have come, and how fast. POF was recently named one of the world’s most valuable private tech companies, and ranked very high as one of Canada’s top 100 startups. As one of very few bootstrapped companies on both of these lists, it’s obvious that our humble roots manifest in many aspects of our business, and could very well be one of the many factors in our continued success.
So many startups are over hyped long before they have established any form of staying power, or even a quality product or service, and we forget about them almost as quickly as we become momentarily obsessed with them. The bottom line is that we have managed to stay at the forefront of a highly competitive and ever-changing industry for a reason, yet many times we opt in favour of letting our service speak for itself, sans media overkill. For example, what’s old in online dating is new again, as companies scramble to be cutting edge by hosting singles events offline. Since 2003, POF members have been planning and hosting well over 350 events each month around the world, drawing tens of thousands of attendees. This space has been steadily growing for us each month for years, but is this the next big thing in online dating? Maybe for now, but in 6 months things will be totally different.