Bell’s $200M+ Olympic Sponsorship & Spectator Coverage

Bell’s new logo will be plastered more prominently at the 2010 Vancouver-Whistler Olympic games than any other corporate name. And they are paying $200M for this priviledge. outbidding BC’s own Telus by 50%. $60M of that sponsorship will go to building new network elements in the region. Bell estimates it will generate $300M with a 1% gain in market share of mobile phones and satellite TV.

Network access at the Games will be tremendously important as coverage is going to increasingly come from spectators in addition to the typical coverage from the media giants. Considering streaming video, shared uploading photos, and onsite interaction, all coming from spectators using tools that have emerged in only the last few years: Facebook, Qik, Twitter, Flickr, live blogs, and yet to be released platforms, etc.

Finding the best of Vancouver using local search and reviews

Since my arrival in Vancouver, I’ve been able to get excellent recommendations on local joints all around town: restaurants, sushi, butchers, grocery stores, coffee shops, sandwiches, pizza, etc.

These are the things everyone needs in a new town. In particular, in the West End, I’ve been introduced to the following:

  • Best dry groceries: No Frills
  • Best butcher: Tango’s
  • Best Lebanese (a requirement for an ex-Montrealer): Nuba
  • Best booze with long hours: Dover Arms
  • Best Indian: Desi at 911 Denman
  • Best sushi (although you really can’t go wrong in Vancouver): Samurai
  • Best Mexican: Ponchos at 827 Denman
  • Best Italian coffee and sandwiches: Cardero Bottega at 1016 Cardero

I’ve also been playing around with the popular local search and review websites (and iPhone applications): Yelp, Urbanspoon, and Praized.

Certainly, they all take a different angle on recommended places. Yelp gives you options; Urbanspoon helps decide for you with their random generating shake feature (great idea); Praized leverages a person’s existing social network via Twitter and Facebook. But who has the best coverage and review base for Vancouver?

For example, let’s look at pizza around Granville, the heart for late night heart-stopping greasy pizza. (And pizza being the typical mobile internet case study…). Yelp seems to have the most user reviews and uses the 5 star system, which seems most accurate. Urbanspoon has the best integration of votes, expert reviews, blog posts, and user reviews. Praized doesn’t have any submitted user or expert reviews yet, but it’s a new service out here, so stay tuned.

Based on this preliminary look, I’ll go with Yelp for now. I like the iPhone app user interface, and the application just seems more fun to use.

What do you use for local recommendations?

More to look at: Chowhound, Food Vancouver, Martiniboys, EAT! Vancouver, the Straight’s annual Best of Vancouver, etc.

Less than 1 year until Olympics

The Olympic countdown timer in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery on West Georgia just cracked 365 days. On the reverse is the countdown to the Paralympic Games, which begin on March 12 — yes, that was confusing if you didn’t know that…

Vancouver Olympics Countdown

Vancouver’s Own Monster Internet Success: Plenty of Fish

Do not go any further without reading this article from Inc on Markus Frind and Plenty of Fish. This is one of the web’s greatest success stories, and it all takes place here in Vancouver.

Frind grew up in Hudson’s Hope, BC, and built Plenty of Fish in 2003 in an effort to bolster his skill set by learning in a couple weeks. Until 2007, he had a staff of exactly zero. Today, he employs three customer service workers and the site serves up a whopping 1.6 billion webpages per month.

Some great excerpts from Max Chafkin’s Inc article:

Frind has resisted adding other commonly requested features, such as chatrooms and video profiles, on the same grounds. “I don’t listen to the users,” he says. “The people who suggest things are the vocal minority who have stupid ideas that only apply to their little niches.” Instead, Frind has focused his energy on making the site better at matching people. When a member starts browsing through profiles, the site records his or her preferences and then narrows down its 10 million users to a more manageable group of potential mates. “Users never see the whole database,” Frind says. “It gets smaller and more focused on what you’re actually looking for.”

By 2006, Plenty of Fish was serving 200 million pages each month, putting it in fifth place in the United States and first in Canada among dating sites. Frind was making amazingly good money, too: $10,000 a day through AdSense. In March of that year, Frind mentioned these facts to Robert Scoble, a popular tech blogger whom he met at a conference in Vancouver. When Scoble wrote about the solo entrepreneur with the ugly website making millions of dollars a year, his readers were in disbelief. At the time, AdSense was seen as a tool for amateurs. It might cover your blogging expenses, but it wouldn’t make you rich.

By the summer of 2008, with his site moving into first place among dating sites in the U.S. and the U.K., Frind began to wonder about his next step. He rented a 3,700-square-foot suite in Vancouver’s Harbour Center, announced he was going to hire 30 employees, and bought a BlackBerry. But the plans were not exactly concrete. By October, Frind’s own office was still empty: no furniture, nothing on the walls. He still hadn’t figured out how to get e-mail on his cell phone. He had hired three people, not 30.

…estimates he creates 800,000 successful relationships per year

Frind’s blueprint for success: Pick a market in which the competition charges money, build a “dead simple” free website, and pay for it using Google AdSense

What’s the most fun you have had at work?
Going to the bank and depositing a million-dollar check

For more great info on Plenty of Fish and similar online successes: