382 Gina Gutierrez: Erotic Storytelling for Female Empowerment
Picture this: Two women in a conference room, pitching female-focused, sex-positive erotic content to male investors — and it’s their first business ever. How DOES that meeting go down?
I’m Melinda Wittstock and today on Wings of Inspired Business we meet an inspiring entrepreneur who has raised $5.5 million dollars for an app that helps women feel sexually, mentally, and emotionally empowered through audio storytelling.
Gina Gutierrez is the co-founder and CEO of Dipsea – a web and mobile platform for women to tap into their sexuality on their own terms, unlock confidence, and develop a more holistic sense of well-being.
I can’t wait to share Gina’s story and inspirations with you – we talk about what it takes for women to navigate venture capital fundraising in Silicon Valley – and how women can use business for social good and empowerment. It’s a mission we both share – along with a passion to encourage women to “lift as we climb” by collaborating with one another.
Gina Gutierrez will be here in a moment … and first,
Now back to the inspiring Gina Gutierrez.
Gina describes herself as an empathy-driven entrepreneur – and her mission is to help women feel sexually, mentally, and emotionally empowered through audio storytelling.
Her company is called Dipsea and her design-forward, female-focused, sex-positive app delivers short-form audio stories that help women and couples tap their inner sexual powers accessibly.
Just one year since launch, Dipsea has already been featured by ELLE, Marie Claire, Vox, and TechCrunch, and has raised $5.5 million in venture funding. All this despite Gina and her co-founder Faye Keegan being told that a startup focused on female pleasure and erotic content wasn’t “venture-backable.”
Gina started out as a brand strategist in San Francisco where she applied her psychology degree from Duke to help leading startups and Fortune 500 companies, including Facebook, Google, Reebok, ThirdLove, and DoorDash.
But many late nights spent talking with friends about their experiences with fun, sexy content made her realize something: there was actually very little of it made for women, especially not in audio format. So, in 2018, she and friend Faye Keegan combined their left-brain and right-brain strengths to launch Dipsea.
So are you ready to fly into audio storytelling with Gina Gutierrez? I am. Let’s fly.
Melinda Wittstock: Gina welcome to Wings.
Gina Gutierrez: Hi, thanks for having me.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, I'm excited to talk to you. I was so intrigued by your bio: that it says, “Gina Gutierrez will probably ask you how you're feeling when she meets you”. And how wonderful to be dwelling in the realm of feeling rather than thinking! My question for you is, you're an intuitive, how much do you feel you already know about how someone's feeling when you first meet them?
Gina Gutierrez: I think this question is so amazing, and I honestly have never been asked it. I think that when I ask someone how they're feeling, I pretty much have a reason to be asking it. I assume that something's going on. So there's probably some sort of pre-qualifying, judgment or idea that's happening that I want someone to be able to give me what's going on with them, and work through it with them. But I don't think I'm always right. And I think that hopefully I have the curiosity to know and be open to the fact that I'm not going to always be right.
Melinda Wittstock: Well, I ask too, because sometimes what we see in others is really what we're seeing in ourselves. And this is-
Gina Gutierrez: Absolutely.
Melinda Wittstock: Right? And this is something that I've recently learned, and so whenever I'm triggered, or whenever anything like that. Or you feel the need to go into judgment about somebody else, you're like, okay wait a minute. What's inside me? What's an old belief or a pattern or something that I can just let go of right now?
Gina Gutierrez: It's hugely powerful to recognize when you are projecting yourself onto someone else. And I think we do it way more than we think. And it's interesting and the Myers-Briggs, you know the last one where it's like you could be someone who perceives the world with kind of a judgmental frame. That word sounds so scary, right? Like if you're a judgmental person. And I think in some ways it is, because you move quickly to an opinion, and that's good because it helps you sort through things fast.
But it's bad in that you have to let go of it sometimes. And so that's something I think about a lot. I think I naturally veer towards judgment, which can be good, it can be bad. And you just have to keep an open mind that your opinion is not always [crosstalk [spp-timestamp time="00:11:00"].
Melinda Wittstock: Gosh, yes, this is so true. Right? So it's taking a verbal clue from it, because sometimes the judgment is your intuition speaking. It could be right? It could be, you need to know something about the person you're just meeting. Like say, it's a potential investor, say it's a potential hire, it's a vendor, it's someone in your business that is going to be really important. Because some of these relationships are make or break say in your business. Right? Make or break.
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: So you're initial reaction when you meet that person is really important. So you could be triggered by some sort of judgment and maybe that's your intuition. Or maybe it's not, maybe it's just some old pattern or belief system within you. How do you know the difference?
Gina Gutierrez: Well I think judgment relates to empathy in that way, right? Because the quicker that you can understand where someone's coming from, the quicker that you can relate to each other. And that's really positive, that builds connection. And so I think you evaluate that as you talk. I think that's what conversation does, you keep feeling for what emotion or what intention is loaded into what someone is saying. And if you don't understand, and if you really feel you don't get it, maybe just to have the guts to say, I'm not sure I understand where you're coming from, can you explain? You know?
And people don't do that, that often. But when they do I find it pretty powerful.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. It's true. I love entrepreneurship for so many reasons. The freedom of it, the fact that it's a constant, like every day is different. But what I've come to really, really love about it is this self discovery. To really succeed at it, there's so many inputs and challenges and things being thrown at you all the time that you have to grow as a person. To really succeed. And I've come to where that used to kind of, like oh God it used to be kind of hard or you'd be threatened by change, or challenge. Or it'd be difficult.
I've come now to just love that part of it, it's fascinating to me. It's like, if you're curious and you're curious about what makes certain people succeed or not, or different businesses succeed or not, like getting curious about this kind of stuff. Yeah. It's been fascinating to me on the journey to actually hear myself even saying, I love all that stuff. I love the challenge.
Gina Gutierrez: Right. Like you couldn't have imagined yourself saying that a couple years ago.
Melinda Wittstock: Absolutely. No, it's really, really true. Because that's where the gold it. All the diamonds and all the gold, and all of that stuff is in the letting go. Is being open to a different path, allowing yourself to fail, allowing yourself to fall down, or fall backwards and be caught. You know?
Gina Gutierrez: And I think for people listening to this who might hear that and think, that sounds really scary, it might be really scary until you're in it. And then, I don't know, I feel like we're such contextual creatures. We as people. And I feel like when you're put into an environment where change is just happening constantly you just adapt. Like even if you think that you couldn't, you would. I'm like that. I don't [crosstalk [spp-timestamp time="00:14:14"] necessarily hunt down change.
And now I swim in it. You know? Just like you were saying.
Melinda Wittstock: It's it interesting though because like when you read things about what people fear, they fear change more than anything else. And I think that's just because our left brain or our ego is keeping us in this domain of like self protection, right?
Gina Gutierrez: Right.
Melinda Wittstock: And yes, we need to survive, right? So that's like kind of lizard brain or whatever. And yet to be aware that that's going on, but there's something beyond that required I guess a discipline, right? It's hard.
Gina Gutierrez: Do you have any mental models for how you think about this? I'm going to give you my example, maybe you have some of-
Melinda Wittstock: Oh yeah, please go ahead.
Gina Gutierrez: I think about swimming and having buoys or like having floating stuff that you hold onto. And you always want a couple things that float, so like whether that's friends. Like your friendships are in a really good place. Or whether that's your partner, like your relationship's in a really good place. Or your job's making you really happy. Or your family's really connected and feeling good around each other. Like what's buoying you up and feels kind of stable?
And then like where the sea is kind of rough. And if the seas are rough in a bunch of different places it's way harder to deal with change. And I think in the entrepreneurial life, and anyone who's really having a lot of stuff going on in their job, it helps to have some other things feel stable and to invest in those other things so you can kind of deal with the turbulent seas where they're more choppy. Because if you're dealing with everything that's changing at once, that's where it's just almost unfathomable. It's almost impossible.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, well that's just beautifully said. Right? So what are these little safe haven spaces? These places that you know are not changing, that they're like bedrock. They're a buoy. I love that.
So many things that are beyond your control. And if you measure yourself by your ability to control the uncontrollable it's like a recipe for real disappointment.
Gina Gutierrez: And feeling so bad about yourself. You know?
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. Right, because you think, how did I not see this? Or, what's lacking in me? And it spirals out. And I see a lot of women in particular to internalize that and take. It means something about them, when it doesn't. It's just like stuff beyond your control, like it's just stuff going on.
Gina Gutierrez: Why do you think that happens more with women than with men? What [crosstalk [spp-timestamp time="00:16:48"]?
Melinda Wittstock: You know, that's a really great question. And I've been pondering this for a really long time, and I have a couple theories but I'm open to testing them. I mean, one of them is just that I think we're part of the tribe. Like we're more social than men in the sense that we're very relationship focused. So we really care more about what other women, in particular, think of us.
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: Because we fear deeply on some sort of like existential level that we'll be cast out of the tribe. Like oh-
Gina Gutierrez: And so you're looking to some external validation.
Melinda Wittstock: External validation, like and also almost like sameness. So I think this leads women to play sometimes a smaller game because we think, oh wow if I really succeed, if I really become, like if I really go for it, will other women like me? Will I be shortchanging other people? Will a man be attracted to me anymore if I'm all strong? Right? Like there's all these sort of questions, right? That keep us playing smaller.
And this is something that I'm fascinated with because I see now that there's this amazing opportunity for women in business where if we actually step into and leverage our authentic feminine power. Not an oxymoron, like feminine power, all this wonderful intuition and empathy and relationship and all these skills that we have in a way that's powerful. We have the capability to use business as a canvass to really solve a lot of the world's biggest problems. And to me that's playing bigger in a mission driven way that in a more evolved way than men have done it so far.
So I think it's really good news, but I think it still requires us to get out of our comfort zones a little bit and just dare to go a little bit bigger. Right?
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah. I agree with a lot of that. Totally.
Melinda Wittstock: You know? I mean, what do you think it is that kind of makes us sort of internalize that? Or makes us think, oh man, it must be me that's wrong not like, I don't know, like a system or something beyond my control?
Gina Gutierrez: Well I think in any context where there is a group that is given less space to exist, like whether that's women or whether that's people of color, or whether that's people who are queer, they feel that they need to operate at a specific and extremely high level of excellence to even just be like baseline taken seriously. And baseline be respected. That they have to work so hard to even get to the baseline.
And then I think if you feel that bedrock that you built for yourself, that foundation that you build for yourself is getting questioned, it can feel really devastating because you've already worked so hard to just get to where it feels like people are listening. And it's just so disheartening when you feel like all that work that you have to do all the time, and you're tired of having to do all the time gets rocked. So I think our foundation is something that we have to protect more, and that just makes us maybe a little bit more risk averse.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, I think that's right. I think there's so many layers to this, and so many textures to it. And this is why I love what you're doing with Dipsea, with the female storytelling. Because I think as we tell our stories in a very fast changing world where the relationships between men and women are changing, society is changing, like at warp speed. And our roles are so different. And what does it mean, really, to just be ourselves and be true to ourselves? Storytelling is really the way forward. [crosstalk [spp-timestamp time="00:20:32"].
Gina Gutierrez: Storytelling, and I think connecting to your eroticism, and both of those things are what Dipsea is tapping into. And I think both of those things are paths to feeling really empowered. Feeling like you really are taking some agency over yourself and over your life. If you're putting your story out into the world, that is a brave thing. Right? Like that is taking up space in its own way. And we love to tell people's stories.
Dipsea is a creative hub, but work with so many, so many writers that are outside of our company to tell their authentic experiences and their authentic fantasies. And that's so empowering for the creators as much as it is for the listeners, which is really amazing for us to get to make happen. And then from an erotic perspective, our stories are designed to make you feel turned on and excited, and connect to yourself. And you get to walk into the world, I think, with that not just being excited that felt good and you were aroused and turned on, but that means something bigger.
Like being able to pay attention to that erotic self and give it some credit I think makes you feel like you're allowed to do more for yourself at ever other aspect of your life. Your friendships, your relationships, your sex life. There's so much more that you can ask for yourself and that's what we're excited about in making these things. You know? It's such a bigger idea.
Melinda Wittstock: I love it. It's interesting that so many women I think over time we've been somehow hoodwinked into hiding the conversation about eroticism, right? Like not really talking about it. I think in business too. Like think back to the 80s and the shoulder pads and all that kind of stuff where we masculinized, I guess. Is that a word? Ourselves.
Gina Gutierrez: So true. [crosstalk [spp-timestamp time="00:22:18"].
Melinda Wittstock: Because we thought … We had no female role models so we thought we had to do it in a way that it's always been done, it's always been done by men, so we have to be like mini men. And that doesn't really work. And so being able to kind of own this power, which the eroticism, which our sexuality, our sensuality. I love the word sensuality, I mean that's so much a part of who we are. And yet we don't talk about it. It's sort of still a little taboo, like it's still kind of … I don't know, how do you see this? How do people react? I guess. I mean I've got so many questions here. But how do people react when you say that you're doing a lot of stories around eroticism and women and eroticism? Does it make people uncomfortable?
Gina Gutierrez: Great question. Yes, of course it does. I think a lot of the change that my co-founder and I had to deal with in the beginning was reckoning with what it meant to have business identities connected to eroticism. That was kind of a wild trip, we didn't quite anticipate what that really meant. That in the same sentence we would be described as being people who were persuasive and great communicators and able to lead our business. And also that we were kind of talking about a space that was so deeply feminine and what a contrast that was.
And yeah, it definitely makes people feel uncomfortable. I think we got asked while we were fundraising all the time, is this romantic, or is this erotic? And we'd be like, both? And I think the reason that question was being asked is because historically I think romance novels, for like greater culture, you now read between the lines greater culture, ie. men, romance felt safe. It's just stories, it's like these cute books that women read. And it's sexy and kind of fun, but it's safe.
And the erotic, the word erotic felt scary. Erotic is not power, right? [crosstalk [spp-timestamp time="00:24:05"]-
Melinda Wittstock: It is about power. How interesting. Let's just talk about that for a little bit, that erotic is power. Because that erotic was taken away from women, or we let it go, or both. And [crosstalk [spp-timestamp time="00:24:21"]. Yeah. And lost our power. And we're claiming it back.
Gina Gutierrez: I think we get to be multiple selves, right? And like more and more women are realizing that. We are not just one thing. We don't walk into the office and be that same self that we are on the couch with our dog, that we are at a date with a new person, that we are in the living rooms with our family. Like those are all different variations of ourselves because we contain multitudes, we are all these things. And one of the things that we're allowed to be is someone in touch with our sexuality. And that doesn't make us any less capable in a boardroom, or any less make our parents proud.
But it's really important that we allow that part of ourselves to live. And I think when people start to do it, when they [inaudible [spp-timestamp time="00:25:04"] do it, they realize how connected it is to power. They actually feel that viscerally. Because when people talk about listening to our stories, we don't hear like, oh that was so fun. Like what a great solo sesh I had with myself. We don't hear that. We hear, wow, I feel connected to my erotic self in a way that I didn't know I could be. That's bigger, right?
Like people make that connection without us even saying it. It's fascinating.
Melinda Wittstock: I'm fascinated by this because you've gone out and you've raised $5.5 million in funding. Is this angel funding or venture funding?
Gina Gutierrez: It's venture funding. Yeah. [crosstalk [spp-timestamp time="00:25:39"] angels as well.
Melinda Wittstock: Okay. So I just want to be a fly on the wall in the room for a moment when you're talking about female eroticism and power with a bunch of dudes in the valley. [inaudible [spp-timestamp time="00:25:54"]. I mean, how does that go?
Gina Gutierrez: You know, a lot of goes like you would expect. You just conjured a visual scene that is real.
Melinda Wittstock: I'm imagining you on Sandhill Road, like I know that scene. And how does that meeting go?
Gina Gutierrez: [crosstalk [spp-timestamp time="00:26:09"] involved. There's definitely a lot of khakis. I think that meeting goes the message of how I would talk about eroticism here aren't the exact words that I'm going to use in a board meeting, because it's just not as relevant, right? Like thinking about context again, we are contextually driven beings as people. And when we put ourselves in the context of a boardroom, what matters?
What matters is thinking about the opportunity of this space, that there are people out there that are ready for this type of experience, that want this type of product. That we are the founders that are going to make it happen, right? And so, sure, it makes sense to position myself and it makes sense for us to position ourselves as people who get women. Right? Because we are women. Right? We wanted this to exist as listeners, we weren't like, oh look at his shiny opportunity. That could be worth millions. Like we were not like that at all.
We were like, we want this to exist, let's make it happen. And so we put ourselves out there as people who could get it from a user perspective. But we also put ourselves out as people who would get it from an investor perspective. Like we were going to make you proud. If you invested in us you could trust us to be really tight in our message and be really specific in our editorial strategy, and really grow the business intelligently. And thought about that, right?
In those moments, in those meetings where you just have to lose people, or you start to realize that they're drifting away. That they're not interested in what you're saying, you tailor that message to the next time because you just learned something. And a huge learning that we had for ourselves over time is, the number one thing that we needed to communicate in this space that is fraught with a lot of discomfort is proving that we were going to make these investors proud. And if we could prove that, they were going to feel a lot safer putting their dollars behind us.
Melinda Wittstock: That's wonderful because so many women entrepreneurs who aren't even in this space, like just have a typical AI business, okay. Like a nice scalable business, okay, only get like 2% of the available VC funding.
Gina Gutierrez: I know, aren't those numbers just dramatically wild. I just read a report like that, and it still blows my mind.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. So when you put your empathy and intuition hat on here, right? What's going wrong with that? Like what can … Because you've been successful raising money, what can women do differently in those scenarios to raise money to change that number? 2%, oh my God. It was 2% a decade ago.
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah, and you know what [crosstalk [spp-timestamp time="00:28:46"] like I don't know if my advice is that women need to do something differently. Because I don't know what women are saying in those boardrooms, or those meetings. And I don't necessarily feel that they're doing anything wrong. I think the system is really F'd. And I think that we need to move past this nice step part A that we're living in, where now there's these venture funds that are really focused on diversity. And are specifically investing in people that are under represented in this space and have less of a chance to get their startup off the ground.
And that's amazing, that is progress. But now that doesn't let these khaki wearing investors off the hook. Just because those exist doesn't mean that they get to keep doing what feels safe to them, which is more white men. Like that's not how it works. So we have to move it onto a step B. And I think part of that is just being like being loud. I don't know, like taking up space. I think it's like for people like Fay and myself as founders to really talk about the fact that we are not female founders anymore than we are founders. We're founders, first.
And the more of us that there are, that just prove that that's true regardless of our gender. Like the more we can take it into the space that gender shouldn't even matter when you're investing in people. It's insignificant. [crosstalk [spp-timestamp time="00:29:56"].
Melinda Wittstock: It shouldn't matter at all. I mean, I think one of the things that happens that I've witnessed a lot of women do is, variously ask for the money with a question mark at the end. Or not ask for enough money. Or, come up with numbers that are actually realistic and which get discounted because the VC's are so used to seeing the hockey stick and like the crazy numbers.
Gina Gutierrez: All really good points.
Melinda Wittstock: Right?
Gina Gutierrez: Really good points.
Melinda Wittstock: Like, so there's a whole bunch of things like that, that we just have to understand how they're thinking and to meet them where they are. But at the same time really understand the question bias that we're going to get. There was a really interesting study that showed that women were often put on the back foot because they would ask a man, hey, how are you going to maximize this opportunity? But a woman was asked, how are you going to write like you know stop yourself from doing X or Y, or failing in some way, or like how are you going to minimize-
Gina Gutierrez: Defensive versus proactive.
Melinda Wittstock: How are you going to minimize risk? Or those sorts of things. So automatically the women who we tend to be very … like we answer the question that was asked. Right?
Gina Gutierrez: Yes. Okay, I'm so happy you said this [crosstalk [spp-timestamp time="00:31:17"] because you're right.
Melinda Wittstock: We naturally will please, right?
Gina Gutierrez: You're right.
Melinda Wittstock: So we fall into this trap over and over again. And I mean, I know this personally because I've raised money for business, tech businesses, and I'm on the company number five, so I totally get this. And I see all the mistakes that I've made in that context in the past, just not really knowing any better. Just being myself.
Gina Gutierrez: 100% [crosstalk [spp-timestamp time="00:31:41"].
Melinda Wittstock: -answering the questions and it's like, no no no, you got to change the question.
Gina Gutierrez: I think you're focusing on exactly the right thing, and I think it's actually really important to get tactical about this. I think my 3,000 foot level is like women should not feel guilty that they're not raising enough money. That's true. But then actually going into the details of it.
Gina Gutierrez: I think what you're saying about women answering the question directly is so spot on. And by no means do Fay and I have this perfectly figured out, because we tend to do that as well. And we've gotten some really interesting feedback where our investors have said things like, we really appreciate the rigor of which you present your answers to us. Which make us go back and be like, are there other companies not doing that? [crosstalk [spp-timestamp time="00:32:29"] are other company not putting up at the top of the slide, like hey here's what's hard right now.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh God, so yes there are. And someone, oh gosh on my podcast recently was talking about this where women are asked a question. Say like they've just done a beta. And they say, well yeah, so here's all the things that went wrong in the beta, but here's what we're doing about them. Right? Like this didn't work, and these users had this complaint, and as a result of that we're doing this. And we're going to fix this and this is what we learnt. Right?
And answer it really from that perspective. Whereas the guys say, hey we had a great beta. Our customers are co-creating with us. We're learning all this stuff from our customer.
Gina Gutierrez: [crosstalk [spp-timestamp time="00:33:11"] is active.
Melinda Wittstock: Awesome, right? Like it's a framing issue.
Gina Gutierrez: It's a framing issue, and I think I came from a background in branding, where I think I had a little bit of a pre-lesson in shaping the message. Right? And like positioning it. And yeah, the truth is important. Like it is important for businesses to tell the truth. We have seen in the last five years the businesses that don't tell the truth how wildly wrong that can go. Right?
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah.
Gina Gutierrez: But I also think it's about being optimistic and it's about procon proing, it's about sandwiching negative news around positive news. It's about showing your negative news honestly and then saying, and here's exactly what we're going to do about it next. So it's not like an open weak spot, it's just like a, we know this is happening, we're looking at it in the face, and we're now concerned and here's why.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. And framing it as a lesson that you've learned something from, and that you have the flexibility to learn and you're coachable. I mean, all those things are really important too. So this is all just fascinating stuff. And I mean, congratulations on doing that because most women, like 98% don't get as far as you guys have. So that's really … Like really I just want to take a moment and honor that, because it's not easy what you've done and what you've built. So it's really, really cool.
Gina Gutierrez: I appreciate that, and I also feel a little bit like, I don't know that I want to celebrate it as like doing all the things right. Because I don't think we necessarily are … I don't know, maybe this is like truly the internalized stuff that we've been talking about. I have a hard time accepting that compliment. That's hard for me to hear. You know what I mean?
Melinda Wittstock: [inaudible [spp-timestamp time="00:34:46"] that so funny. So women really have a hard time receiving. And I'm trying to figure out what's at the root of this, because we have a hard time asking for things that we actually want. And we have a hard time receiving. Why? Yeah, why?
Gina Gutierrez: Those are big questions. It requires me to do some real soul searching.
Melinda Wittstock: This is why I launched this podcast, right? Because I really think that to succeed and for women to really step up into our true power we've got to really look deep at this kind of stuff. And business growth and personal growth are so intertwined. I mean, I've just arrived at that place through my career of actually understanding that. And through all the women I've interviewed you start to see patterns in terms of what it takes and being interested and open to really go there is a big-
Gina Gutierrez: Okay, so can I ask you? Like of the patterns you've noticed, what is one that is maybe like a sleeper pattern? Like what is one that surprised you in women that have seen success? That maybe wouldn't be like what you'd write at the top of an article, but is connected across these people.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, it's just so interesting. It's that willingness to surrender stuff that doesn't serve. Because we all have these limiting subconscious drivers and beliefs, right? So the folks that succeed kind of figure out how to get beyond that.
The thing that's interesting to me though is I see a lot of women going into business as doers. Like they're really good at doing something, so they launch a business to do that, and they create jobs for themselves rather than coming at it from the perspective of a business owner. And thinking of themselves as an asset. Because the minute you shift the equation where you're now an asset and not a doer, not an employee, right? That you're an asset, then suddenly how you spend your time as an asset becomes incredibly important.
I find that a lot of women, and this is true of me too, and it's something that I still battle, but I'm getting better at. Which is that we become human doings, we think we have to do it all. We think we're sort of somehow heroic for like, oh look at me I can do this and I can do that, and I can spin 50,000 plates at the same time. And oh my God, and still look good and here I am bouncing in my heels. You know? And it's crazy because what we should be doing is just doing the things that only we can do. Because that's the intellectual property in the business, that's the asset. Hire the rest. Persuade interns to do the rest. Like whatever it is you have to do.
But that's the thing. So I've just noticed that the women who are happy. It's not just about the women who succeed, but the women who are happiest succeeding do that. Because if you can figure out how to create a business that's growing without guilt, without trade off, without feeling like you're pulled in 97 directions at the same time, then that to me is success. So I'm thinking of it more in a holistic way. And so you went into business because you wanted to have a big impact in the world, or you wanted freedom, or you wanted to be able to do the thing you want to do. Well you also really want to be happy.
So you don't want to be a slave to your business. You want your business to support you. And so this whole idea of how we get burnt out and how we spend so much time, like trying to perfect everything and do everything. And oh my God. That's what holds us back.
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: So I think [crosstalk [spp-timestamp time="00:38:47"]. I think we do better if we just really figure out, and it takes a lot of soul searching and a lot of time sometimes, to figure out what's the thing that only we can do? Like only Gina can do, only Melinda can do, nobody else can do. And do that. And all the other stuff I find now that I'm brave enough to actually live, and live into it, I find that all the other stuff sort of magically gets taken care of. Just like weird things like the right people show up at the right time.
And I don't know, I'm not sure if an investor would buy that, but it's true of me.
Gina Gutierrez: That's such a great way to feel. Like congratulations for getting there, because that definitely took a lot of work. That's amazing.
Melinda Wittstock: And it's a work in progress, I'm not going to fool anybody by saying, oh yeah like everything's perfect with me. I mean it's not; you always get challenged. Like the universe always says things like, are you sure? I'm just going to test you. I'm going to throw something in there, I'm going to give you a huge amount of work, and you're going to have to say, oh yeah I can do it all. Or you're going to have to say, no, I'm going to have boundaries around this. Somebody else can do this. I'm going to ask for help. I'm going to prioritize what's really important, what's the highest leveragable activity I can do right now in this moment.
I mean because you have a choice in every one of these things. And the more you live into it, and the more you get consistent, the more this kind of magic happens. I mean this is what I've learned on my journey. I didn't know this. I wish I knew this earlier. I wish I knew this in my 20s and my 30s, you know like I really do. I really do. It took me a while to figure it out.
Gina Gutierrez: Right. It takes a lot of time.
Melinda Wittstock: It does. And so, did you always know, Gina, that you were entrepreneurial? Like when you were a kid did you have a lemonade stand? Were you like, entrepreneur, or did that come a little bit later on?
Gina Gutierrez: You know the word entrepreneur never connected to me as what I wanted to be. It still feels a little bit distant. I think the idea of making things happen has always been something that I really connect to. Like I would read these books when I was a kid that were like, how to set up a babysitting business. And I was like nine, like no one wanted to have me babysit their children. I was not ready. The market was premature.
But I was always thinking about how I could create little businesses. And yeah, so like maybe I showed early [crosstalk [spp-timestamp time="00:41:00"].
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, I think you did.
Gina Gutierrez: -the future of that.
Melinda Wittstock: I think you did. I don't think most kids who were nine were reading books about how to create businesses.
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah, but they were illustrated. Someone made that for a kid.
Melinda Wittstock: That's awesome.
Gina Gutierrez: I'm trying to think about that. But I really wanted to … I think I really wanted to be independent. I think childhood was actually like a constant push for adulthood for me. I was like, when am I going to be old enough that I can do all these things? [crosstalk [spp-timestamp time="00:41:26"] it's cool to be old enough to do all these things.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh me too, I was like that. I felt like I was looking at my watch all through my childhood. I was like, oh my God when can I finally, like oh please just God like can I just-
Gina Gutierrez: And that's the thing. My dad always says youth is wasted on the young. And I remember hearing that when I was young and being like, okay dad. And now it's true. Like you go back and you're like, you got to nap in the middle of the day. That was a life, you were living the life. But I think the downsides of childhood actually that you really don't get to be that autonomous person. And being an entrepreneur is probably an opposite [inaudible [spp-timestamp time="00:42:00"] as possible. So maybe I was just ready for that kind of control. I don't know.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. It's so true. So back to Dipsea for a moment. I know we're going all over the place in this interview but it's fascinating to me, I'm really enjoying this conversation. And the thing about Dipsea that's so interesting is this idea of looking beyond the body. Right? So there's a lot of female focused businesses that are like Fem Tech, Sex Tech, like right? It all focused on the body. And yet we are very, when it comes to sex or sensuality or love or any of these things, we're so mental and emotional. Like it really is in our head. And so the whole storytelling piece.
So what was it that sparked the idea for that? That kind of acknowledgement that there was this, first of all not only a gap in the market for this, but that made you want to fill it?
Gina Gutierrez: So I think longer term, before Dipsea was even a twinkle in either my or Fay's eye, I just always thought of sex as very psychological. It always struck me that when people talked about having issues with their partners, or maybe having a hard time having an orgasm that they really weren't thinking about what their brains were doing, or what anxiety they were feeling. They were only talking about how they should be touch, or what they should ask for. Which felt like a limited perspective to me. So I think that was kind of the precursor to coming to this idea.
And then Fay and I were talking with our group of friends in San Francisco, and would talk about the fact that Fay had been watching Outlander, which is this series if people aren't familiar, that is a fantasy series about a woman who travels back in time to Scotland in the, I think 1700s. And it's definitely romantic, it's definitely very erotic content. The show itself has five minute sex scenes that are really, really sexy. But this show isn't positioned as erotic content, it's positioned as entertainment. And if you find the erotic content in that you're like, oh this is amazing. But it's not positioned as that type of experience.
And what we realized is the things that were positioned as that type of experience weren't really working for us as millennial women. And so it just struck us that there could be better options that just haven't been dreamt up yet. And then one night I was listening to Headspace, that meditation app.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah.
Gina Gutierrez: And I was like, wow, this is making me feel so much. And it carries with me to beyond just the moments or minutes that I'm listening, it makes me feel something for the rest of the day, ideally, right? And I was like, audio. That has to be it, it has to be audio. And suddenly the idea wasn't just like this shouldn't there be better erotic content? But it was like, we should make audio stories for women, and that could be a really cool idea.
Melinda Wittstock: I love it.
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah, that's what we're trying to [inaudible [spp-timestamp time="00:44:37"] I think. It's not just the body, the body is hugely important as part of a sexual experience, for sure. But it's also a mood, how we feel. And it's also our context. Like what's going on in the world around us, and what's erotic about the world around us, and what's really a turn off? And there's like, unfortunately a lot of things in our daily lives that are active turn offs. And in a story you can remove so many of those, and suddenly you get to put someone in a really different space. And that's what we're excited to do with our really immersive soundscapes.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh I love it. I love the word soundscape, by the way, that's really, really cool. So how do people listen to Dipsea? Is it an app? Do you go to the website? Are you on like Audible? How does it work?
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah. So many people think that we're a podcast, which is a really easy mistake to make, we are an app. So we are available on iOS if you have an iPhone. And we are actually launching our Android in a week, so we will be available on that platform too. And we think it's really important to create an experience that feels super accessible and super approachable, and really premium. Because a lot of the erotic experiences you might have had hunting around the internet haven't always felt like that, and so an app really lets us control things so that the design is really beautiful. And you're not interrupted with ads. And so you can access our stories with a subscription, or a monthly, or an annual.
But we also do free trials, so you can explore around before you make that decision. Because you know, for everyone this is a new thing. Everyone needs to explore whether it works for them.
Melinda Wittstock: How wonderful. And so you just go to the iTunes store and soon Google Play, and you just search for Dipsea and there it is, and off you go.
Gina Gutierrez: And there it is, happy listening.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh how wonderful. Well I just want to congratulate you on just what you've achieved here, Gina, you and your co-founder. I think it's really awesome what you're doing. And I want to make sure that anyone who wants to follow up with you, or wants to work with you or get the app, how can they best find you?
Gina Gutierrez: So if you head to Dipseastories.com you can learn more about us as a company, you can find a link to voice act for us, you can find a link to write for us, you can see what career options we have available, what job listings we have up. We want to be in contact with anyone who wants to get into this space, so please reach out. We'd be really happy to talk to you.
Melinda Wittstock: I love it. Well thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us.
Gina Gutierrez: Thank you, this was such a lovely conversation. I really enjoyed it.