Good Life

Local online dating service offers coaching, scholarship funding

Bob and Elaine Rodino started 50PlusConnects.com in 2012 and just added dating coaches to the website’s services.
Bob and Elaine Rodino started 50PlusConnects.com in 2012 and just added dating coaches to the website’s services. Centre Daily Times, file

Remember your first date?

You were probably, at the very least, a little nervous about what to do and what to say. And you might have some of those same butterflies if you haven’t dated in decades.

That’s where a State College-based senior date website wants to differentiate itself from the bigger competition — by helping its members get back into the game. 50PlusConnects.com, co-founded by Robert and Elaine Rodino and four of their colleagues in 2012, is a boomer and senior dating website. It recently launched free access to dating coaches.

“If someone is in the 50-plus range, maybe 60, 65, 70, maybe they haven’t dated for a long time,” Robert Rodino said. “And maybe they lost a spouse. Maybe they’re divorced or separated. Whatever the case, it’s different to date now than when they were in their 20s. They might need someone to keep them up-to-date on etiquette and styles.”

The company has hired coaches to help members do little things that make a big difference like picking a good picture for online profiles.

“They’ll help you do all of the things to make you more attractive in your profile to meet another person,” Robert Rodino said. “And when you start talking to someone they’ll help you to feel comfortable. Some people feel they don’t have those skills or think they’re a little rusty, so we’re helping them and distinguish ourselves from bigger corporations.”

Subscribers of at least three months will have access to one hour of free coaching per month. Webcasts on dating for boomers and seniors will also be available.

The added perk to the site is also paired with a new initiative — to donate 10 percent of subscription fees from Penn State alumni to the university for scholarships.

The co-founders and their investors hope that the new bonuses to joining the site will increase its membership of about 1,200 people.

“It’s a lot harder than we ever thought,” Robert Rodino said. “Initially, because of population and even with major competitors out there, we thought we’d just have to drop our line in the water. We’re like a small fishing crew next to big corporations. We thought ‘we’ll get thousands,’ but we have to actively attract them to us. So, we are distinguishing ourselves from everyone else to get more people.”

Shawn Annarelli: 814-235-3928, @Shawn_Annarelli

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