We meet early on a Friday morning at a coffee shop in the center of San Francisco. The line is out the door when I arrive, and Gina is already seated. After quickly ordering a latte I join her at a high top table. It is there, in the middle of the crowded coffee shop, we discuss the new app looking to carve out a space for the most underrepresented demographic in sexual content: women.
When I ask Dipsea’s co-founder Gina Gutierrez how she came up with the idea, she tells me she was inspired by apps featuring audio content—particularly those that focused on meditation. She tells me that after a ten minute guided meditation her mood would shift. She’d feel lighter, more capable, and that mood would then inform the rest of her day. She began to wonder if a similar format could be applied to arousal.
As a young, driven woman living in San Francisco she had had ideas for companies before, but she tells me she always got the classic San Francisco response of a smile and nod followed by a “That makes sense.” But when she started talking about guided arousal, people’s responses changed—they became more engaged.
Gina read everything she could on the psychology and physiology of arousal. She’d then casually hash out the idea with friends, sitting around the kitchen table in a shared apartment. It was there, late one Friday night, that Gina realized that of all the people she spoke to, her friend’s roommate, Faye, was the most engaged. Suddenly Gina started looking at her in a new light.
For a year and a half they talked around and about the idea, but neither was ready to take the leap. And then Faye read A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the Internet Tells Us About Sexual Relationships by Ogi Ogas and Sal Gaddam on a flight back from Mexico City. As soon as the plane landed, Faye called Gina: “I’m in.”
Dipsea co-founders, Gina and Faye
When I ask Gina what it was that got Faye fully invested, she laughs, “Data.” Specifically, that the data made clear there was, as Gina puts it, “a psychological abyss between the sexes in terms of what they desire, and how they access that desire.”
When I ask what she means by this, she cites an example from the book, “Women are willing to pay more more to find out who Leo DiCaprio had breakfast with than they are to see pictures of him.”
We both laugh because the example feels somewhat dated. But this author can confirm the sentiment is almost certainly true if applied to…oh, I don’t know, Idris Elba.
Gina tells me Faye was all in by the end of October. By November they’d both quit their jobs, and by January they were up and running. They launched Dipsea’s alpha on March 1, 2018.
In describing Dipsea’s curated stories, Gina tells me, “This isn’t about just filling time—there are other apps for that. It’s about creating meaning in those 15 minutes. Arousal is a means to an end, but it should never end there. The after-the-story is what we’re most excited about. It’s about giving women a new opportunity to tap into power that will then have implications for how they walk through the world.”
Image courtesy of Dipsea
For women, sexuality and arousal aren’t always easy or immediate. In many ways, the very premise of both is fraught. Gina tells me that in talking about the idea for the app there was this common sentiment expressed to her by the women in her life, “I don’t feel sexy enough. I’m not sexual enough.” She shakes her head, “What is enough?”
“This isn’t about just filling time—there are other apps for that. It’s about creating meaning in those 15 minutes. Arousal is a means to an end, but it should never end there. The after-the-story is what we’re most excited about. It’s about giving women a new opportunity to tap into power that will then have implications for how they walk through the world.”
Gina points out that there’s hardware and education to address female sexuality, but there’s not much content specifically designed for women—and even when there is content, it can be difficult to access. Gina tells me she heard again and again from the women she spoke to they’d find one or two go-to pieces and then stop looking. For her, Dipsea is about giving a women a space to access their sexuality in a new, approachable way.
When I ask her why this app and why now, Gina tells me that it’s about fitting into the larger picture of what is needed to help empower women. “I think our culture has told us all, men and women—everyone—that sexuality is a certain thing, done in a certain way, and can only be accessed by a certain means. This is about changing that.”
Dipsea isn’t so much about disrupting the industry, as it is about disrupting our own ideas about how we can access our sexuality—and so ultimately, our own power. It’s about allowing women to determine what enough means for them, on their own terms.
Dipsea’s app launched yesterday! Get it here.