We caught up with Andrea Oliver, CEO and co-founder of Emjoy, the audio-based intimate wellbeing app for women, to hear about their mission to raise women’s confidence, close the ‘pleasure gap’ and normalise the concept of ‘sexual wellbeing’ for all…
Tell us about Emjoy
Emjoy is an audio-based wellbeing app enabling women to explore their bodies, learn about their sexuality, arouse their minds, and feel empowered throughout their sex life. Emjoy encourages habit-building through the knowledge of our in-house sex therapist, as well as renowned experts, to provide over 100,000 users with guided practices, educational sessions, and audio erotic stories.
We are on a mission to raise women’s confidence by bringing about awareness and an understanding of their needs, and are doing this in a way that is both safe and inclusive to all. Emjoy is all about providing women with the practical tools to connect with themselves, both physically and mentally, whether the aim is to become more confident, learn about themself, understand their sexuality, have some well-deserved me-time, or just unwind.
How did you come up with the idea for Emjoy?
In all honesty, I was becoming a bit bored with my work as a VC. Instead of solely focusing on high-level strategy, I was keen to get stuck into the operational side of things for myself. I knew that I wanted to found a company that aligned with my beliefs, that provided enough value to both myself and society, and that I would enjoy running for the next 10-15 years. I wanted to found a company that I could grow into something big, and that would also make a difference.
When researching possible concepts, I came across several studies and reports that analysed the pleasure gap and showed that women consistently experience less than their male counterparts. After talking through it with my friends, it dawned on me that this was an experience that was widely shared. To my surprise, given that I was well aware of the size of the growing wellness economy, I was unable to find an app on the market that addressed sexual wellbeing from a habit-building perspective. On the other hand, I noticed that mental health, fitness and meditation apps of this nature could be found by the dozen. I saw this as an amazing opportunity to start this journey of broadening society’s views of wellbeing. At Emjoy, we are defining a new category within the industry, whilst drawing inspiration from meditation apps.
I was also acutely aware of the rise in popularity of podcasts and audiobooks, as well as the surge in female consumption of sex toys and porn, both of which also played a key role in Emjoy’s conception. We really want to meet our users where they are, presenting them with a format that feels familiar and, therefore, accessible. For this reason, Emjoy is split into two sections, ‘Wellness’, that contains guided practices, and ‘Stories’, that houses erotic audio content, making it simple for our users to explore their own sexuality and engage with the app in a way that suits them. As with Headspace’s ‘packs’, our wellness practices have multiple sessions, similar to a lesson plan. There’s also a ‘Journey’ tab within the app where users can see what they’ve already listened to, making it easy for them to work their way through the areas they wish to focus on, whether that’s body acceptance or staying present during intimacy.
What is the ‘pleasure gap’ and why do you think it’s important for us to address it?
Research from the International Academy of Sex Research has found that 95% of heterosexual men usually or always orgasm during sex, compared to only 65% of heterosexual women. This is what is deemed to be the gendered pleasure gap, and it is a real cause for concern given the multitude of studies which have found that sexual satisfaction directly correlates with positive physical and mental wellbeing.
Emjoy has been created as a holistic solution to aid in closing this gap, and reduce pleasure inequality. We hope to empower women to embrace, understand and vocalise their needs, encouraging them to seek, and demand, enjoyment. But also to do so in a way that is inclusive to all. An example of this is Emjoy’s recently released collection on sexual trauma which provides specialist guidance on how to support oneself in healing. We are conscious that no two individuals’ journeys will look the same and therefore are keen to provide content that addresses the difficulties one can encounter during their sex-life.
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What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs looking to start their own business?
- Start a business in an area you feel passionate about
- Do plenty of research into the market
- Remember that you don’t have to have a personal story to want to innovate in a specific space
What does the future hold for Emjoy?
While we still have work to do, it feels to me that an increasing number of people – from women and their partners to investors and advertising networks – are becoming aware of the importance of an app like Emjoy. That being said, the market is still emerging, therefore, our role to continue educating.
It is my hope, to eventually normalise the concept of ‘sexual wellbeing’ so that it can be incorporated into the wider ‘health and wellbeing’ movement, and its associated technology, e.g. apps, wearables, and trackers. This shift will, in turn, change how innovation in the space is viewed so that it will become as important as that which we are currently seeing in the fitness and mental health spaces. Lest we forget, these were once also viewed as emerging categories and it is only in recent years that widescale acceptance has been achieved and the big household names have come to the fore. From here, investment will follow, and Emjoy will cement its position as one of the key global players heading up the market.