No Plan, No Capital, No Model…No Problem

Markus Frind, the founder of PlentyOfFish.com is my new hero (James Hong of Hot or Not is a close second). Marcus spends about two hours a day in his underwear managing a free dating website that gets twelve billion page views a year. He is the only employee, and he only has one server. And by the way, he makes $5-6 million/year with Google ads.

I’ve moderated many panels in my time, and if I had to choose one that entrepeneurs should watch, this is it. If you’re one guy/gal or two guys/gals in a garage, it will push all the right buttons, and you’ll love it. However, if your plan is to raise several million dollars from venture capitalists and then hire five engineers, one vp of biz dev, one CTO, two testers, and a vp of marketing to ship a product in a year, you probably shouldn’t spend your time watching it.

The members of the five-person panel provided many good insights into starting and funding a company today.

Marcus Kazmierczak, vp of engineering, Maya’s Mom
Markus Frind, Founder, PlentyofFish.com
James Hong, Co-Founder, HotorNot.com
Dave Lu, CEO, Fanpop
Karen Northup, CEO and Founder, CoreFino

Watch it and reap!


Here is the MP3 (46722.2K) file.

By | 2016-10-24T14:20:13+00:00 June 25th, 2007|Categories: Entrepreneurship|63 Comments

About the Author:

Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of The Art of Social Media, The Art of the Start, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.

63 Comments

  1. Tara June 25, 2007 at 6:54 am - Reply

    Excellent advice!
    In addition to talking about gadget and luxury products and services on my blog, maybe I ought to start a dating service so my gadget and luxury lovers can meet each other!
    Just kidding, of course. But then again…

  2. Patrick Kerr of PTRADES June 25, 2007 at 7:09 am - Reply

    yes! this reminds me of my partners(karel baloun of FACEBOOK) new book called “Inside Facebook” check it out…a must read for etrepreneurs!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. I.D.Tail June 25, 2007 at 7:16 am - Reply

    Le job le plus rentable du monde !

    Découvert à linstant via le blog de Guy Kawazaki !
    Un certain Markus Frind, créateur de PlentyOfFish.com (pleins de poissons.com), un site de rencontre gratuit, soutire chaque année à Google 5 à 6M$ de revenus AdSense, grâce à ses 12 mil…

  4. skyliner June 25, 2007 at 7:45 am - Reply

    Guy, the story of Marcus and PlentyofFish.com sure is inspiring. But details sound, ehm, fishy. A dating site built on ASP.NET with 12 billion pageviews a year still running on a single server with a single person in charge? Are you sure you’ve got all the facts right?
    I’m curious because we are running a regional social network with two sites that together get roughly the same amount of pageviews as you indicate plentyoffish.com is getting (the bigger of the two sites ranked ~No. 90 on the Alexa global site list a month ago).
    It currently takes ~60 servers in two countries to keep both sites alive and well. The setup scales nicely and does not require a large technical team, but still it is more like 5-6 people (server admins, DB admins and developers) rather than one. And yeah, social networking functionality taxes the servers much more severely than that of a basic dating service – but still a single server serving 12 billion pageviews per year sounds more like an ad for HP or SUN than a real world case. I’m puzzled.

  5. Jay June 25, 2007 at 8:04 am - Reply

    skyliner – if you have the web site developed properly and you keep the amount of queries down significantly (or remove them altogether, which would be the best option) then your site needs less to host it. If he is running one query a page and your running 10, whilst he’s delivering 10kb sized pages and your delivering 300kb worth of data each page … then these things become easier for his server than yours.
    Guy – thanks for posting this up. It was an excellent video to watch and you did a great job moderating the panel.

  6. Reg Nordman June 25, 2007 at 9:58 am - Reply

    Always a great blog Guy. Too bad that you were also sucked in by the Markus/Plenty of fish Reality Distortion Field. Skyliner is right, the facts can not stand up. Since I live in Vancouver, I know what really goes on in Marcus world. Its too bad that he sticks with that misleading story as he still does good volumes and benefits with decent low level revenue. Once again, if it sounds to good to be true…don’t forget your spidey senses.

  7. Jon June 25, 2007 at 10:12 am - Reply

    Good interview and panel, they all seem to realize how much of a lottery win they have achieved and are appreciative of their achievements.
    Entrepreneurship is like any other career, you can get lucky and become a millionaire or work for somebody else and win the lottery… as are most things in life.
    Jon

  8. nate June 25, 2007 at 11:26 am - Reply

    It costs $100 to incorporate

    Really? I’d like to know where to go that does incorporations with stock options etc for $100 that’s not a fraud. Referrals for that kind of service would be nice if anyone has experience with them.

  9. John Treadway June 25, 2007 at 11:38 am - Reply

    Guy –
    There’s no such thing as “the way” to start a company. HotOrNot and PlentyofFish could be done with one or two guys for nothing. If you’re selling to businesses and you aren’t VC backed or have a strong balance sheet out of the gate, you’re at a disadvantage. Karen’s business needs capital to scale. She needs sales, marketing and R&D investment well beyond a web 2.0 social community widget site on Facebook. She can get a bit of the way by herself, but at some point she’s going to need more cash.

  10. mynameishere June 25, 2007 at 12:07 pm - Reply

    The “one server” is just serving pages. I believe he has a cluster of SQLServer instances running as well.

  11. TG June 25, 2007 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    Okay, I visited PlentyofFish.com’s home page. I would be very grateful if any propellerheads out there can explain how it might be possible to host such a site on one server, which at quick glance appears to be resource-intensive with photos, and according to the page, 51,000 people connected at the time I visited the site.
    Unlike a social networking site, this site is basically a huge free public database. Maybe this is what keeps server demand lower because people are not creating new pages; they are for the most part creating a new “row” of data in the DB for themselves and/or doing DB queries to find other people….?
    Oh, and I saw a “Adult dating” link which obviously is NSFW, and that link alone gives me an understanding where a good chunk of Mr. Frind’s $$ comes from.

  12. Marketing & Strategy Innovation Blog June 25, 2007 at 1:57 pm - Reply

    No Plan, No Capital, No Model…No Problem

    by: Guy KawasakiMarkus Frind, the founder of PlentyOfFish.com is my new hero (James Hong of Hot or Not is a close second). Marcus spends about two hours a day in his underwear managing a free dating website that gets twelve…

  13. Douglas Karr June 25, 2007 at 2:00 pm - Reply

    Was that between $5 AND $6 million? Or between $5 million and $6 million?
    😉
    If it’s the former, my site does that well, too!
    Doug

  14. Matthew June 25, 2007 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    Trying to change the world too, check out how.
    www.matthewsblog.waynesborochurchofchrist.org

  15. Bloggrrl June 25, 2007 at 4:33 pm - Reply

    Thanks for posting the video. Chances are, that’s a resource I would not have otherwise found.
    Strangely, one of the first partnership offers I have received is from a dating service, lol. I can see it, somehow.

  16. Henk June 26, 2007 at 12:07 am - Reply

    These cases give the impression that every web app can be made in 3 weeks by one person and all others that need 4 programmers and a tester are fools.
    I would imagine that something really useful and innovative like http://www.plaxo.com/ would require much more than that I would never make fun of them because of that

  17. Daniel CerVentus June 26, 2007 at 4:16 am - Reply

    This is what is means to be an entrepreneur my friends. I’ve been challenging myself to build business without external funding and it has been an interesting and profitable journey.
    From using creative ways to get income and to bartering for services, its always a such great feeling when you stumble upon a solution.
    You tend to be the most creative when you are stuck in a corner and you looking for ways to get out. As its said, necessity is the mother of invention.
    Here’s to the crazy ones.
    [email protected] Great job moderating as usual and thanks for the post.
    James [email protected] Turning your biggest weakness into a plus, is really inspiring and I think more entrepreneurs should have your outlook.

  18. Forbrugslån June 26, 2007 at 4:20 am - Reply

    Great inspiration! Thanks for the pick – Im aming for a similar situation in a few years from now! 🙂

  19. joe bruzzese June 26, 2007 at 6:44 am - Reply

    Hey Guy,
    Incredible selection to share with the world of budding entrepreneurs. As the CEO and Co-Founder of Thinking Forward I’m continually on the prowl for inspiring ideas that will drive my own business forward towards a more remarkable experience for my clients.
    I anticipate returning often to check out what you have to share with us in the continued challenge of Changing the World.
    Thanks for an incredible start to my day.
    Regards,
    Joe Bruzzese

  20. Anonymous June 26, 2007 at 6:59 am - Reply

    Always aimhigh!

    While we dont all have the luxury of sitting around in our undies while putting in our 2 hour work days, it doesnt mean we arent successful and/or having fun while at work; right?!
    Guy Kawasaki recently moderated another panel of e…

  21. Margaret Howe June 26, 2007 at 10:34 am - Reply

    Thank you for putting up the video! We are the guy & gal churning away in our living room & what inspiring stories for us to hear!
    I’m also glad to have some validation that this can be done with 1 or 2 people on their own. Our friends & family think we have gone crazy to take this leap.
    From my perspective, we’d be crazy not to.

  22. tenassian June 26, 2007 at 11:09 am - Reply

    Reg, if you know something we don’t… don’t leave us hanging. Markus has been fairly transparent on his blog about what he’s doing. How is he misleading people about his story?

  23. tenassian June 26, 2007 at 11:13 am - Reply

    Also: Guy, thank you and participants for this amazing seminar. We were seriously considering VC capital for our next project, but now realize the limitations outweigh the benefits for our next site.

  24. jesus June 26, 2007 at 1:16 pm - Reply

    Well, it’s immediately obvious that this is a one-man site! If this guy is raking in as much dough as he claims, you’d think he’d have the good sense to get a makeover.
    But my guess is that this is just a publicity stunt to get more traffic.
    The surprising thing, though, is that he hacked Google Adsense, which isn’t supposed to work behind password-protected sites. Unless they changed their policy…

  25. Scott June 26, 2007 at 1:30 pm - Reply

    Excellent, informative, and entertaining video – I love James Hong now, but man, that Karen Northup is annoyingly impressed with herself and the least interesting here. Someone please edit her out of the video – it would be an improvement.

  26. Rob Cuesta June 26, 2007 at 5:25 pm - Reply

    What’s so crazy about that Tara. Niching is a major factor in business success. What better niche than gadget lovers: high disposable income, lots of time spent online, and they no doubt prefer online interaction to the real world (again just kidding, I think!)
    Anyway, regardless of whether PlentyOfFish runs on one server or a hundred, rakes in $5m or $5, Marcus has created a great deal of buzz, and that in itself makes him worth tracking, because you can bet your bottom dollar he’ll do it again for any other business he gets involved in.

  27. Ryan June 26, 2007 at 10:43 pm - Reply

    @skyliner,
    Supposedly, he does it by not using any of the ASP.NET controls. My impression is that he renders everything through basic Console.Write() calls. So although he is using ASP.NET, he really isn’t using it in the traditional sense.

  28. Norish Aida June 26, 2007 at 11:40 pm - Reply

    Is it luck? Or are they all genius. I spend hours and hours surfing the internet, try to figure how to make money online, with zero cost. How much money do you need to end up earning like him? Or maybe we all should create a dating website to make free money from adsense.

  29. Jim Beam June 27, 2007 at 12:50 am - Reply

    taken from:
    “Most of the 100 million plus image requests a day are running through Akamai. This server does serve 10’s of millions of image requests directly, but most of thos e images are in ram so its not much of a load. While that’s likely the most modest setup of the top 100 sites, serving hundreds of millions of images through Akamai is not entirely cheap. Frind says that using a CDN is essential because of the global reach of his site (which has a large user base in Australia) but says his largest expense is his storage area network.”
    So he has a SAN, he has a DB server, he uses akamai, has load balancers, has application servers. Well now, that sounds like a a lot more than 1 server.
    Good Luck everyone, I respect honestly over any some of money any day.
    By the way!
    Adsense allows secure page access now via GET / POST. Check it out =)

  30. belle64.com June 27, 2007 at 3:17 am - Reply

    This is such an excellent panel. It keeps the hope going that it just takes a good idea and listening to you customers and you can make it big.
    I also find it strange why people keep hammering the founder of Plentyoffish. People are always doing things that seem impossible, just because you can’t figure out how they do it doesn’t make it impossible or even unreasonable.

  31. Saurabh Bhide June 27, 2007 at 4:02 am - Reply

    OMG millions of dollars just through google ads ?
    This is fantastic.

  32. Dave Dugdale June 27, 2007 at 6:11 am - Reply

    It is a long video, but it has a lot of good stuff in it.
    Guy thanks for sharing that with everyone. I wish more conferences like this would share their panel discussions.

  33. Steve Kickert June 27, 2007 at 8:42 am - Reply

    This has to be my favorite “Guy” video. It has changed some of our strategy in our company already and it has only been two hours.
    Thanks,
    Steve

  34. Jody June 27, 2007 at 12:56 pm - Reply

    Wow I love hearing success stories like this. It motivates me to act on a few of my own ideas. Great stuff!

  35. JibberJobber Guy June 27, 2007 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    SHOOT! I knew I shouldn’t have wasted my time on a business plan! Kidding aside, this was an awesome panel. Very, very cool people, and great info.
    Any way to get the audio louder on the video (I turned it up as loud as I could and it was not very loud)?
    Jason Alba
    CEO – JibberJobber.com
    :: self-serve career management ::

  36. ayh2 June 27, 2007 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    For me, the key question is how to you market a site without spending $$$. What is the launch strategy? Yeah, James said that his facebook app registered 1M users in basically no time. However, there are so many facebook apps now and there will be more in the coming months. Essentially, how do you raise awareness without spending $$$?

  37. Ari June 27, 2007 at 9:35 pm - Reply

    The most popular post on my blog is about plentyoffish.com: it’s called Dissecting the story of the big money blogger.
    Long story short, Revenue does not equal profit. As anyone who works in arbitrage will tell you, holding up a cheque for $1,000,000 is a loss if you spent $1,200,000 to buy that traffic.
    Nevertheless, Markus’ success is impressive and awesome for many reasons, and I can honestly say I’d like to be in his position.

  38. Smibs Grow Smart Weblog June 28, 2007 at 10:28 am - Reply

    Start in Canada with no budget and no business plan and make millions.

    What I first found on Guys blog seems to be to good to be true. Start a business with no business model, no capital and no real plan and make millions – sounds like a spoof, doesnt it? Well, the Canadian Markus Frind did it with his free …

  39. 5 Star Affiliate Marketing Blogs, Google and SEO Blog June 28, 2007 at 10:31 am - Reply

    Guy Kawasaki Video – Making Millions in Underwear from Home

    Watch the truly inspiring video below and see how 5 webpreneurs made it big with no biz model and no funding. The video features an awesome panel discussion lead by Guy Kawasaki.

  40. 5 Star Affiliate Marketing Forums June 28, 2007 at 11:24 am - Reply

    Serious Video – Make $ from Home in Underwear

    I made a link bait title to get you guys to read this. It’s really a VERY good
    video and it is a bit about the title Making $ from Home in Underwear but it’s very serious business! (From the 5 Star b…

  41. My Internet Notebook June 28, 2007 at 3:54 pm - Reply

    Making Money with Free Websites

    We already know a lot of website are free to use. But do you know some of them are actually making good money with just one or a few guys running it? Guy Kawasaki moderated a panel talking with the new internet entrepreneurs.
    When would the same thing…

  42. Startup in San Diego June 28, 2007 at 7:03 pm - Reply

    Facebook Apps and More, ValleyFavoritism?

    It’s been an interesting day contemplating and observing the choices and politics that go into the ultra-competitive startup world these days.
    Valleywag publishes an eye-opening letter from a Facebook Platform Developer documenting subtle changes tha…

  43. Mike Paunovich June 29, 2007 at 6:15 am - Reply

    Glad the video was finally posted! Thanks.

  44. Jeremy Chone June 29, 2007 at 10:34 am - Reply

    Good post, thanks. I have heard about plentyoffish.com success, but it was the time where he made 100k/month (already pretty good). It is actually one of the reason why I decided to start my own company.
    I think the key lesson is that good work often pays off, and that “simplicity often overcomes completeness”.

  45. Peter Cooper June 29, 2007 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    skyliner: It’s good to be thinking about it and to be a little critical, but it’s not /totally/ outlandish, as long as he’s not doing much e-mail support. I run a site that does about 3 billion pageviews a year single handed with a single front end server and one backend server.

  46. Blue Sky Brothers, LLC June 29, 2007 at 10:57 pm - Reply

    The Art of Moderation: Guy Kawasaki

    For those of you fellow entrepreneurs out there who are burning the midnight oil, I have encouraging news: “You can do it. Just do it.” Guy Kawasaki posted an article on June 25th entitled, “No Plan, No Capital, No Model….No Problem.” He …

  47. 365 Days July 1, 2007 at 4:07 am - Reply

    Love the post. I’ll have to check in more often now that I found this. What a diamond in the rough. Great stuff, keep it up!
    365 Days… One Dream… Can I Do It?
    http://onemansgoal.blogspot.com

  48. Happy July 1, 2007 at 9:20 am - Reply

    Man, this is high quality stuff. Truly inspiring. Can’t buy this stuff even if you have the dole.

  49. David July 1, 2007 at 11:33 pm - Reply

    This is inspiring stuff, and we would all trade places if offered the chance. But Guy, some of this is pure luck, and the fact that they’re one-man shops might mean they lack vision…
    …so the jury is still out on this one. We’ll have to see where it goes. But good luck to them!

  50. Muskblog July 2, 2007 at 4:55 pm - Reply

    Long Weekend Links

    Its the long weekend, and Im back to looking for a job. Im looking for a lot of things, some answers, an apology, happiness
    With all the time Ive spent at Blenz or at home sitting in front of my laptop, I decided to …

  51. BTC Technologies July 2, 2007 at 8:22 pm - Reply

    Zana Network – Bad Start

    MI Tech news site has an article about Zana Network. Its a site designed for SMEs (uhh, that would be Small to Medium sized Enterprises). I think they want to be Facebook / MySpace for SMEs.
    Apparently this is a ground breaking adventure to anyo…

  52. seocock July 3, 2007 at 4:41 am - Reply

    its true that web developers with even a small bit of skill can make a success… shame most of my web design leads think that with five hundred pounds they can be the next ebay without lifting a finger..

  53. Joel Mueller July 3, 2007 at 6:58 am - Reply

    It’s awesome to see this, but you would think he’d actually invest back into his site with that kind of cash flow. Meaning, GET A DESIGNER. The site layout is a massive headache!

  54. ModernMagellans July 3, 2007 at 10:01 am - Reply

    Business Launch – Success Rates

    Success breeds overconfidence is once again proven my Marcus Frind. Marcus is the now famous founder, sole-employee, and current media darling from PlentyofFish.com. His story is a great on. Start a company and build it slowly over time. Google search…

  55. Samiq July 4, 2007 at 9:48 am - Reply

    I’ve got to say the same, I am trying myself to startup on a couple of ideas, and the second thing that comes to my mind after the idea is actually the experience the user will have while using my services, it seems this guys this thought of it as hard… but hey they made it!
    @Guy: great panel man, and great site… I’ve learning a lot from it. Cheers!

  56. Jaime July 4, 2007 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    That is a incredible video. And i am agree with you “The Rich Marcus” is my hero!

  57. Epic Living July 9, 2007 at 8:58 am - Reply

    Advice for Your Start-Up

    Guy Kawasaki’s post on No Plan, No Capital, No Model…No Problem is great for those who are thinking about making a move or for those that think VC is the only way to launch. Believe me it made me think

  58. Tony July 9, 2007 at 1:59 pm - Reply

    “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36
    “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Luke 16:13

  59. globthink July 12, 2007 at 7:24 am - Reply

    No Plan, No Capital, No Model…No Problem

    My friend “The man over there” has recommended me this post by Guy Kawasaky, which is quite impresive. The video is a bit long but it is very worth watching.
    This is the videoof a panel organized by the Churchill Cluband mode

  60. globthink July 14, 2007 at 9:18 am - Reply

    Creative plagiarism. The ‘meneame’ connection

    I’ve found a couple of interesting things today:- Interesting article about new Facebook API and how too much love may kill you (love from users, that is). Basically it says that the great insight of Facebook is to become an ‘open’ plat

  61. Read/WriteWeb July 17, 2007 at 2:20 pm - Reply

    Google Leads the Way in Online Video

    The good news for Google keeps coming from comScore. Yesterday, comScore revealed that despite a slight dip in search marketshare in June, Google’s lead over second place Yahoo! in the search engine wars remained virtually unchanged (Microsoft was the …

  62. Businomics Blog July 22, 2007 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    Advice for Entrepreneurs (which Corporate Executives Can Use)

    Guy Kawasaki moderated a panel at the Churchill Club in Silicon Valley: No Plan, No Capital, No Model … No Problem. The program is well worth watching not only for start-up entrepreneurs, but also for seasoned corporate executives. One key

  63. Mike Bruder October 3, 2007 at 7:30 pm - Reply

    Guy,
    Things like this amaze me. I’m currently a grad student studying for my MBA, and I’ve been tasked with doing a mini-research project on the role of capital in entrepreneurial start-ups. Some of the research that I’ve seen indicates that entrepreneurs often never start businesses because they have the financial capital to make it possible, but instead start businesses because they have the “human capital” and passion.
    Would you be willing to do a short interview through e-mail or even over the phone for my research project? I would like to complete the interview sometime within the next 3 weeks. If you are available, please let me know via e-mail or Twitter. I know you are busy, and I won’t be offended if you say no, but thank you for considering this.
    Mike Bruder

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