It started with meditation. Gina Gutierrez was listening to Headspace, the guided meditation and mindfulness app, when she realized something. Her and her girl friends, including her now-business partner Faye Keegan, were spending a lot of time talking about sexuality and how so few of them had reliable sources for erotic content that felt made for them. Was the answer to their problems in her headphones?
"Even though I listen to podcasts all the time, and I'm consuming audio for info, Headspace changed how I felt," Gutierrez told ELLE.com. "That for me felt so powerful. Audio could be used in such a deeper way for storytelling, and those two ideas clicked together. Faye and I were off to the races researching everything about female sexuality and how this could work."
Now, the two have officially launched Dipsea, a tech company and story studio that's behind a new platform for sexual wellbeing. Their app offers short audio stories designed to turn women (or whomever) on.
The various stories range in time, perspective, and mood. You can listen to a story that's five minutes long or 20 minutes long, one that features two women in an open relationship, a heterosexual couple, a woman and her ex-boyfriend, and so-on. There are stories marked "hot and heavy," ones meant for "date night pregame," and ones for when you want to "relax and unwind." Users can listen to three stories with a free trial, and then can pay for a subscription to hear more. ($5.99/month with a year subscription or $8.99/month for month-to-month payment.) Right now, the app is only available for iOS, but they're hoping to release a web app soon and later evolve into different platforms.
During their process of making the app, Gutierrez and Keegan discovered that 90 percent of women use "mental framing" (or scenario conjuring) to get turned on, and yet most investment in female pleasure has focused on physical stimulation, not mental stimulation.
"That doesn’t mean that it’s not really important for women to understand how to interact with and touch their own bodies," Gutierrez says. "Those are really important things for self-pleasure and self-care, but it was interesting how little attention we felt was being paid to the mental aspect. So what we really wanted to see what a mind-first approach to sexual wellness.”
The name, Dipsea, alludes to both Gutierrez and Keegan's friendship as well as what they hope the app means to women: "We kind of loved it because it conjured the idea to us of taking a dip into the sea. If you just want to dip your toe in, that’s totally fine or if you want to dive in headfirst, you can do that too, into a different world." But the Dipsea Trail is also a famous trail in the Bay Area, where the two got close. They naturally decided to become business partners, Keegan bringing a finance and engineering background, and Gutierrez bringing knowledge of editorial and brand strategy.
In the beginning, the two created a few stories themselves, to figure out what they did or didn't like, and then went out to a network of writers and voice actors. Gutierrez says they want the content to feel real, elevated, and feminist; they want to portray sex in a way that's positive and consensual, which means paying attention to detail—just as women do—so their listeners feel safe and considered.
"So much of this for us is beyond just the end goal of arousal," Gutierrez says. "Dipsea is not intended to be an end, it’s an intended to be a means to an end. It’s about creating a place that people want to come to that affirms their identity, that affirms the choices they’re already making. Those are the things we’re thinking about."
You can download Dipsea on any iOS device, here.