What: Online dating service for people age 50 and
Who: Miriam Hipsh, founder of FiftyPlusConnect.com
Where: New York City
When: Started in March 2005
After reading an article about internet dating, Miriam Hipsh decided she wanted to find out more. But when she attempted to create a profile on one site, Hipsh, 59, got to a question about body art and realized the site was clearly not targeting a mature audience.
"It wasn't speaking to me," says Hipsh. Instead of discouraging her, this realization piqued her entrepreneurial interest.
After some research, Hipsh discovered that there weren't many dating sites targeting her age group, and she knew from talking with friends that there was a market for such a site. In March 2005, after a year of researching and developing her idea, she launched FiftyPlusConnect.com, a dating website tailored to the over-50 demographic.
"I don't want people to feel that by the time they hit a certain age, it's over," says Hipsh, who became a single mother at 48 when she adopted a 6-month-old baby.
Hipsh financed the startup costs of her business--approximately $30,000--using personal investments and the help of friends and family. She gave up her job as a reading tutor to work full time on the website from home. She also hired a webmaster, who built and designed the site, and now maintains it. Hipsh describes FiftyPlusConnect.com as a "quiet site," mean-ing it's inviting and warm, not flashy or busy. With large fonts and soothing colors such as beige and blue, the site's design is simple and user-friendly.
By early 2006, over 5,000 people had joined at no cost. In March, Hipsh started charging $18 a month for a subscription to the site and projects 2006 sales to reach the low six figures. In the future, she plans to add reader content, diversify the chat rooms and possibly retail FiftyPlusConnect.com items.
Most important, Hipsh wants to continue encouraging people to seek out love and happiness at any age. "I embrace my age, and I embrace experience," says Hipsh. "I love life."