Sex is everywhere. It’s on television, in the movies, in every magazine, clearly books and in a way, it is the focal point of the 2012 election. Even though we feel we have seen everything in this day and age, sex is still a taboo topic, especially in many business circles. But what if you had to go into a room full of male investors and pitch the importance of female sex knowledge in Silicon Valley? Well, that is what the women behind the new women’s media brand Vixely are doing right now.
Vixely was born out of the frustration over the lack of quality content for women on some of the most crucial topics, mainly sex. Nora Bass, COO & Co-Founder of Vixely, wrote in an editorial for The Huffington Post:
“Quality answers to women’s sex and relationship questions are buried in books or scattered online, and women’s magazines, by in large, remain completely out of touch with real women’s core questions on these topics. Cosmopolitan magazine, the number one selling women’s magazine, barely scratches the surface. Women’s understanding of their bodies, what they want, and how to communicate their desires are at the core of women’s comprehension of their sexual selves, and yet our society keeps women’s sexual experience shrouded in taboo. We believe there is an inequity between women and men that stems from a culture that encourages men to be sexually exploratory, but admonishes women for the same behavior. The proliferation of online pornography has made it the de facto sex education for young men, and without quality, digital resources for women, the result is a gap of information between Gen Y men and women, the societal implications of which we have only begun to see.”
The company provides a portfolio of interactive iPad products-including a Top 50 bestselling iBook on sex advice, the Vixely iPad Magazine with bi-monthly issues and a daily blog. I was lucky enough to chat with Bass and Jennifer Eident, CEO and Co-Founder about pitching sex content to a room full of suits, sexual politics in Silicon Valley and learning to code, which is actually the sexiest of all.
The Grindstone: So how did Vixely come together?
Nora Bass: Friends since college, Jen, Lara [Glaister, Director of Design and Co-founder] and I reconnected last year over our shared passion to solve women’s needs through content, technology and design. Vixely was born out of our frustration over the lack of quality content for women on our most crucial topics, including sex, in a voice that resonates and that fits our digital lives. We were fed up with with Cosmopolitan Magazine’s repetitive, inaccurate advice, empty Google searches looking for answers and the irrelevancy of books in our digital lives, and wanted to create a media experience that captures women’s real life experiences, as well as the questions and conversations we share with our friends. Further, we see the future of media on the iPad and want to bring women the visual engagement and unique experiences they want with our evergreen content in all the ways the tablet affords.
Before launching Vixely full-time, on the side of our day jobs, I was working on a women’s sexual products start-up and Jen was working on a media platform around sexual content for women. As soon as we connected, Lara joined forces to bring our imagery to life. We are our target demographic and, given our backgrounds, we knew we could fill the void for the 46 million digital Gen Y women who spend billions annually on sex advice and self-help.
The Grindstone: Did you all always picture yourself wanting to be entrepreneurs?
Nora Bass: My mother is an entrepreneur and I grew up around that “can-do” attitude and focus on a customer and creating products and brands to meet their needs. Since college, I was always working on side projects for products I believed in that filled an important need and that I thought could be the next big thing. My passion for women and for solving women’s needs was the catalyst that put me on the path of entrepreneurship and brought me to my like-minded co-founders.
Jennifer Eident: I have always had an entrepreneurial mindset and this is my third start-up—although my first where I am the co-founder and CEO. I really love innovative and creative environments and I am passionate about building products that impact people’s lives. I went to Stanford and learned how to code out of my desire to build a product in the online space for women, whom I feel are a very underserved demographic. Building a company from the ground up takes an incredible amount of dedication and perseverance—it is really hard for it not to take priority over everything else in your life. Starting Vixely with Nora and Lara was absolutely worth this sacrifice, we are all so passionate about our mission and really think we have the opportunity to change people’s lives and solve a problem that has impacted all of us. I definitely would not choose to be an entrepreneur for just the sake of it though—living a balanced life is something I look forward to in the future as we grow Vixely!
The Grindstone: Why do you think you guys work well together as a team? When founding a company how a team works together is pretty damn important. Are you all very similar or different?
Jennifer Eident: It was very important to me that we had a very collaborative, hands-on environment and way of working together. I brought the “design-thinking” methodology with me—all our walls are covered in whiteboard paint and all our ideas and decisions start with Post-It notes. The process of design-thinking—need-finding, brainstorming, rapid prototyping, testing, and refining—is instrumental to how we work as a team and how we see the future of our company. While we strongly believe that these processes are crucial for productivity and decision making, we appreciate that there also is an individual focus needed for other parts of the business, such as content production and execution, that require speed and strict attention to detail. Our different skill-sets as well as just our different outlooks have also been very helpful in shaping the product, but as with any brand, it is also crucial how much we agree on the voice.
Nora Bass: We work well together because while our skill sets are complementary they are also highly differentiated—each of us brings something unique to the table. We love the “design-thinking” technique to collaborate, ideate and get on the same page with the next steps for our company and then drill down on what we each do best to get the highest-quality content and products out for our audience. I think it also helps that, collectively, we always start with thinking about who our audience is, talking to them about what they want and actively following what they do, so that every idea stems from a need and every outcome (whether it’s a single piece of content or an entire product) fills a void. We lean on each other when we need each other’s support and bond because we believe in the purpose of what we do and work tirelessly together for it.
Jennifer Eident: We work really well together in large part because of how much love and respect for each other we have—we are like family!