Bob and Elaine Rodino laugh a lot, so it’s not hard to figure out that their sense of humor is a big reason why they’re in harmony.
The couple, who said they’ve been married “for a long time,” still go on dates and do as much as possible to travel and meet with friends.
Their experiences led them to launch multiple websites in the past few years to try to get people to connect in the same ways that they have. Their most recent, 50plusconnects.com, went live last year.
“All the things we have on the website come from our experiences and philosophies,” Elaine Rodino said. “As a psychologist and what I tell my patients is, they have to keep acting like they’re dating all the time. Often people really are on good behavior when they date, and then something happens at the altar.”
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The site has grown as a hub for friendship and connecting.
Q: What was the inspiration for 50plusconnects.com?
ER: This is a few years back. Bob was doing research on senior housing. He was doing a lot of research on it, and he’d tell me about how there was this silver tsunami happening and how baby boomers were becoming 65. In hearing that information and processing it, I realized that there were a lot of needs for that group.
Q: And it’s not just dating?
BR: No, it’s companionship. Travel buddies, housing and a lot of information about being single and over 50. We have a lot of articles on retirement, finance, vacationing.
ER: And all of that has nothing to do with dating.
BR: All of that has to do with a lifestyle of being single and over 50 and what that means.
Q: But it got started out with dating?
ER: It started out with dating and companionship. Part of how we keep developing this site is we keep learning new things. We incorporate that into the site. Pretty early on we realized there was this whole new need amongst 50-plus people with house sharing. We had not heard of that before. We heard that in a lot of retirement developments when one spouse dies they don’t really want to leave it. They want to stay and maybe share expenses and company and have a housemate. They don’t want romance or travel, but they want a roommate.
Q: Do you often learn from the people who use it?
ER: Constantly. We encourage feedback.
BR: We had two sites we started out with. One was Senior Premier Dating, which is actually our corporate name, but as we gave out information to people in their 60s they got insulted.
ER: They were angry and asked, ‘How dare you call me a senior?’ What I realized pretty quickly was they were boomers, and they don’t identify as seniors. They could be 95, and they won’t self-identify as seniors. They will always be baby boomers.
BR: We then created Boomer Premier Dating as a website. That became too complicated in terms of too much overlapping information, different needs, merging needs.
EB: It became too cumbersome, so we combined both into 50plusconnects.
Q: When did the original websites launch?
EB: In 2012. And then 50plusconnects in January 2014.
Q: What did you expect?
BR: My expectation when we started, and my analogy before we got on, was that it was like a fisherman going out to sea with a huge school of fish and he’s competing with other boats that are more advanced. All I said was that all he’d have to do was drop his line from his little boat and he’ll get a boatload of fish. That wasn’t true. You have to do something to make sure those fish know we exist and know why they should come to us instead of the large corporations.
ER: And that’s the hardest part. Marketing and getting known. When people know we exist they come to us, and we did not begin with venture capital money or a $2.5 million marketing budget. We refrained from going in that direction, because we thought we would lose our personalized control, but on the other hand it takes a long time to get known.
Q: What was it like actually launching it?
BR: And at the same time scary. I’m the planner, so I do the business plans, reports and projections. My concept with the fisherman out at sea with the huge school of fish ... when it didn’t initially come out according to my projections it’s like, ‘Ah, what’s going on?’ How do you get this up?
ER: The successful sites that launched before us had huge marketing campaigns. They did constantly beautiful ads on television, but very expensive ads.
Q: Do you two use the site?
ER: We’re members to keep track of it, but we’re not looking for anything for ourselves.
BR: We have so many travel buddies, companions and friends that we don’t need more here in LA and New York. But we are constantly on it watching it.
Q: So you feel your purpose is to help others connect in ways you have?
BR: And it’s progressing nicely now. We’ve got a lot of localized niche groups. We have a Penn State group, San Francisco, South Florida and more. As an example, if you go in our Penn State group we have links to the CDT, Town and Gown, Penn State — all the things people from this area would have an interest in checking out what’s going on.
ER: For Penn State alumni, when events happen here, whether it’d be Arts Fest or football games or homecoming, big football events especially, people that might not live in town might want to meet up with other and go out on the town. That’s what we’re really hoping for, to connect people.