As is the tech sector, the sex industry is notoriously dominated by men. The mashup of both industries, dubbed “sex tech,” represents a 30 billion dollar business including everything from sex toys to apps that track your period. Traditionally, the sex industry has catered to male identities, with women’s sexuality being an accessory intended for a man’s pleasure.
But concepts of sex and erotica are perpetually evolving. And women are here to break the stigma and claim their right to sexual pleasure, as well as a share of that 30 billion: an increasing number of sex tech startups are led by women. And one of these women-led businesses that promises to help you sing soprano (i.e., climax) is Dipsea.
Dipsea is an app-based platform for sexual wellness that includes “audio stories and experiences that are real, elevated and feminist.” Founded by former brand and design strategist Gina Gutierrez and former technical product strategist Faye Keegan, the San Francisco-based startup officially launched December 2018 and has secured $5.5 million from investors.
"We want to empower women to tap into their sexuality more easily, and on their terms," Gutierrez, Dipsea's CEO, told BUST. "Listening is fun and sexy, but it also helps shape listeners' understanding and communication of their own interests, helps partners find new intimacy, and cultivates greater self-love and confidence."
Considering the increased demand for audio content in addition to the void of adult content specifically designed for women, Dipsea is entering the market at an opportune time.
The idea for Dipsea was born from the use of another wellness app, Headspace. Gutierrez was listening to the meditation and mindfulness app when it occurred to her that many conversations with her friends were spent talking about sexuality and the limited number of sources for erotic content crafted for women. In this meditative moment of higher consciousness, Gutierrez had a realization she shared with Elle — that "audio could be used in such a deeper way for storytelling, and those two ideas clicked together," she said. "Faye and I were off to the races researching everything about female sexuality and how this could work.”
While in the process of developing the app, Gutierrez and Keegan, Dipsea's CTO, learned that 90 percent of women use “mental framing,” or using one’s imagination to create sexually stimulating scenarios. “Audio is amazing because it’s imaginative; it requires you to paint a picture in your brain that’s very stimulating and it’s super intimate and very personal,” Gutierrez told TechCrunch.
While concepts of female pleasure are concentrated on physical stimulation, mental stimulation is often overlooked, yet equally important. “It was interesting how little attention we felt was being paid to the mental aspect,” Gutierrez told Elle. “So what we really wanted to see was a mind-first approach to sexual wellness.”
The variety of Dipsea’s content ranges in time, mood and perspective and includes narrative sexy stories as well as guided audio instruction. Stories will expand with the latest round of capital. Some stories are categorized as “date night pregame”; others are “hot and heavy,” and then there are ones for when you want to “relax and unwind.” Three stories are included with a free trial, then users have the option to purchase a subscription for $3.99/month, annually, or $8.99/month on a monthly basis.
Plans for global expansion are in the works. "We’re excited to broaden our access to more listeners," Gutierrez told BUST. "We’re now on iOS and Android — we just released on Android on August 15th. We’re currently available in 5 countries: The U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, and that list is only growing." And that increased access "means continuing to tell more diverse stories that even more people can hear themselves in and connect to, whether in across things like sexual preferences, interests, and stage of sexual life."
The app’s name can be attributed to the Dipsea Trail, a well-known path in the Bay Area where the friendship between Gutierrez and Keegan blossomed before they became business partners. On a metaphorical level, the name conjured the idea of "being able to 'dip' your toe into a 'sea' of stories, or dive right in headfirst."
Since its inception, Dipsea has seen many incredible developments. Raising their seed round, launching the app, hitting 100k downloads and producing over 100 original short stories "were all moments we tried to pause and really take in," Gutierrez told BUST. Aside from these milestones, feedback from listeners has not only been rewarding but invaluable for the app's success. "We’ve heard from married people, trauma victims, people exploring their sexuality, and everyone in between about the impact the product has on their self-understanding, their relationships, and their sex life. We have so much data to work with, alongside listeners’ feedback, that has made us increasingly better at creating content people love."
Header photo courtesy of Dipsea
More from BUST
Hi there! I’m a comedian, writer and actress living in New York City. I’m the only person to have a subscription to Nickelodeon Magazine without access to the Nickelodeon channel. My favorite movie is George Of The Jungle. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @stonecoldvolpe and check out my website francescavolpe.com for more of my writing and silly videos!