Andrea Oliver, CEO and co-founder of sexual wellbeing audio app, Emjoy shares the lessons she's learned in creating a successful digital business.
RD: For those who aren't familiar, how would you describe what Emjoy does?
Andrea: Emjoy is an audio-based sexual wellbeing app for women. We have both theory and guided practices designed by leading sex therapists for our users to achieve a variety of sexual wellbeing goals like discovering their bodies or increasing their libido. We also have immersive erotic stories for women to get in the mood. We launched Emjoy worldwide in January 2020 and today have over 170,000 users.
I strongly believe that knowledge is the key to increasing a person’s confidence. By empowering our users to learn about their bodies, we are giving them the tools to learn, and articulate, their wants and their needs. We, as a company, are passionate about closing the orgasm gap and reducing pleasure inequality.
RD: What did you do before Emjoy? And how has your past experience led you here?
Andrea: Prior to founding Emjoy I worked in VC, knowing that at some point I would like to have my own business. I thought the experience would help me get there by enabling me to gain an understanding of different business models as well as what makes a startup successful, while also connecting me with future potential investors for my own venture.
I started out at Dawn Capital in London (which participated in investments in iZettle, Collibra) before moving to Nauta Capital (invested in Holded and Onna).
RD: When did the idea for Emjoy come to you? And why do you think it's needed?
Andrea: I founded Emjoy in part based on my own experiences, and the experiences of many girlfriends of mine. All of us had normalised not climaxing when having sexual encounters. When I began researching this I came across the pleasure gap and learnt that 95 per cent of heterosexual men usually or always orgasm during sex, compared to only 65 per cent of heterosexual women (according to the International Academy of Sex Research).
I also learnt that 40 per cent of women have some type of sexual dysfunction (which can include anything from difficulty achieving orgasm to low libido or discomfort during sex). I felt strongly that a tech-based solution should be available and, given the focus on mental and physical health apps, I was surprised that I could not find one focusing on female sexual wellbeing.
RD: What does a typical workday look like for you? Has it changed with lockdown?
Andrea: When lockdown began and we started working remotely, my day became a little chaotic. Everyone was pinging me on Slack with different requests and I did many different things at the same time, which led me to become a little unproductive. To solve this, I decided to dedicate days of the week to different topics, to allow me to truly focus. I also decided to only have meetings during the morning, leaving afternoons free to think and plan.
During lockdown, I truly realised that there is rarely anything that can’t wait until tomorrow. If you cut through the noise, you can clearly see that not all things are urgent, which helps to manage stress and ensure a work/life balance. With this in mind, I usually start working at 9am and finish at 7pm. After 7pm, I make a real effort to switch off and step away from email and Slack.
RD: Has lockdown changed the way you create content for Emjoy? Or what your users are looking for?
Andrea: During lockdown, our immersive, erotic stories have seen a 30 per cent increase in engagement. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve also seen increased interaction with sessions related to "Mindful Sex", "Self-esteem", "Relationships" and "Desire".
We are of course tailoring content to these patterns and have just released a number of new erotic stories. In fact, to mark International Women’s Day 2021, we are making our erotic stories section completely free from the 5th - 8th March, so that all women—be they Emjoy users or not—can join together and take a collective step towards closing the orgasm gap.
RD: What positive change do you see Emjoy making in the world?
Andrea: The ultimate positive change that I hope Emjoy will create is less gender inequality and the normalisation of female sexual wellbeing so that women experience pleasure freely.
One of my fondest memories is that, shortly after Emjoy first launched, we interviewed one of our earliest users. She told us that she’d had sex with her partner for the first time in a year and that she had had her first orgasm in several years thanks to Emjoy. We hope to make an impact like this for all of our users, by providing better sex education and a safe space for women to explore their bodies and their sexuality, allowing them to work out what they like and dislike, and to feel more confident in their skin.
RD: What do you do to switch off from work?
Andrea: I live with my two dogs. After work, I go out for a long walk with them and this really helps me to switch off from work. I also enjoy physical exercise and practice sport 3-4 times a week, which helps me to clear my head and re-energise.
RD: If you weren’t in this line of work, what other career would you love to have?
Andrea: That is a great question! I guess I have two answers. Given my own expertise, I would love to teach entrepreneurship at university.
I’d also love to go back to university and study psychology with a view to becoming a therapist. In this role, I’d want to help women increase their self-esteem, help them with their careers and assist them in navigating their relationships.
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