With Scott Orn

A Startup Podcast by Kruze Consulting

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Scott Orn

Scott Orn, CFA

Gina Gutierrez Forbes 30 under 30, brand builder, storyteller, chaser of big feelings and founder of @dipseastories, an app featuring sexy audio stories, wellness sessions, and sleep scenes. Available on iOS, Android, and web app

Posted on: 01/25/2021

Gina Gutierrez

Gina Gutierrez

Co-Founder and CEO - Dipsea

Gina Gutierrez of Dipsea - Podcast Summary

Gina Gutierrez Forbes 30 under 30, brand builder, storyteller, chaser of big feelings and founder of Dipsea Stories, joins us to talk about her company’s app featuring sexy audio stories, wellness sessions, and sleep scenes.

Gina Gutierrez of Dipsea - Podcast Transcript

Scott: Hey, it’s Scott Orn at Kruze Consulting and welcome to another episode of Founders and Friends. And before we start the podcast, let’s give a quick shout out to Rippling. Rippling is the new cool payroll tool that we see a lot of startups using. Rippling is great for your traditional HR and payroll. They integrate very nicely, but guess what? They did another thing they integrate into your IT infrastructure. They make it really easy for when you hire someone to spin up all the web services in their computer, which sounds kind of like not a huge deal, but actually we did this study at Kruze, we spent $420 on average just getting a new employee’s computer up and running and their web servers up and running. It’s actually a really big deal. It saves a lot of money and the dogs are in the Dogwood. We see a lot of startups coming in to Kruze now using rippling. So please check out Rippling, great service. We love it. I think we have a podcast with Parker Conrad. You can hear it from his own words, but we’re seeing them take market share. So, shout out to Rippling and now to another awesome podcast at Kruze Consulting’s Founders and Friends. Thanks.
Singer: (singing). It’s Kruze Consulting. Founders and Friends with your host, Scotty Orn.
Scott: Welcome to Founders and Friends podcast with Scott Orn at Kruze Consulting. And my very special guest is Gina Gutierrez of Dipsea. Welcome, Gina.
Gina: Thank you, so glad to be here.
Scott: Yeah, it’s awesome. Well maybe you can start off just by retracing your career a little bit and telling everyone how you had the idea to start Dipsea.
Gina: Yeah, happy to. I don’t think I have the typical founder journey, not that there necessarily is one, but I studied psychology at Duke University and I was always really excited by what makes people tick, why people do what they do. It’s just fascinating to think about all the motivational psychology behind everything in our lives. And why has always been the question that fascinated me the most. It’s not how or what. Now I feel a lot more how’s and what’s [crosstalk 00:02:04].
Scott: You’re out of academia and into business.
Gina: Exactly, but the why has always struck me the most as the most exciting. And I think that that really drove my career path. I was a brand strategist for many years. I was the first brand strategist at a design agency called Character. They were super well-renowned for their design, but they were hoping to sell clients on understanding why they were making the choices that they were making. So, for example, Reebok was going through a major change. They were number three to Adidas and Nike, and they were playing in this group fitness space, sports space, and they weren’t winning and they saw this opportunity to win in CrossFit. And so, I helped them to build a story of how they could authentically connect to that community. So, it’s always been about connecting businesses and people. Why should people care about a business?
Scott: Yeah, I don’t know if you know this, but Character is a Kruze client has been a Kruze client for like four or five years.
Gina: I didn’t know that. That’s awesome. So, you talked to Ali?
Scott: Yeah, Ali Ralph, yup.
Gina: That’s my guy. That’s awesome.
Scott: That’s awesome, so you did Character and you had those insights and that experience.
Gina: Yup, and I worked with a ton of startups, of course, it’s a Bay Area focused studio. So, I was working with the companies like Stitch Fix and Third Love, Heidi Zak, the CEO of Third Love is actually an investor in Dipsea and really was connecting to the idea of what it means to start something from the beginning. It’s so powerful. You can really craft that story, so fun. And then I joined another design studio called Wrapped, and Wrapped is actually focused on architecture and experiences. And I was really excited about designing real experiences. So, the classic prices brand end up are like websites and digital ads and packages, but Wrapped really took it all the way into space. And when you surround someone three-dimensionally, you’re suddenly like, wow, you can really impact someone. So, building the future of retail and building the future of what a winery experience could feel like or what… Google was doing this crazy stuff where they were helping to teach their top execs empathy, for example, like what kind of a space would you design to help people learn empathy? Really cool stuff, super cerebral. Yeah, it was really fun. So, I think from the start, it’s always been what are amazing experiences? How do you create amazing experiences? But at Wrapped, I already had the idea for Dipsea. And so, it was keeping me up at night when I was daydreaming at my desk, that’s what I was thinking about, it was nagging at me. You do that for long enough and you realize you have to follow your heart and try the thing.
Scott: Yeah, that’s amazing too, because it’s almost like the idea is pulling you into the startup because you’re right, you can’t sleep at night and you see so much potential and you see what it could be and how many years ago? Was that three or four years ago? How many years ago was that starting Dipsea?
Gina: That was three years ago, yeah.
Scott: Yeah, fantastic. And you guys have come so far, we’ll talk about a bunch of stuff, but maybe just talk about what Dipsea is and how your customers relate to it.
Gina: Totally, so Dipsea is the first audio platform for sexual wellness. And the basic principle of it was we thought it was really interesting that when people talked about helping people have better sex or better sex lives, they talked about it as purely physical. What kind of experiences are people having physically? And they really weren’t talking about the brain at all. And I saw that as such a miss, especially for women. For me, it wasn’t like, “Okay, there needs to be a better vibrator for women,” it’s really cool that there are companies focusing on that it’s super important, but to me, that wasn’t actually the biggest opportunity. The biggest opportunity was to help women get out of their heads and into their bodies to find that right head space where they felt like suddenly this unattainable idea of getting into the flow of things didn’t feel so hard. And so that was really what I wanted to focus on. And that was the early idea was that audio could be super powerful for telling these stories that hopefully were going to get people into an erotic mind state. So essentially a Dipsea makes original short format, audio content. They’re short, sexy stories, we also make a ton of non-narrative content. So, erotic meditations to help you get into your body and partner sessions for things like massage or conversation, you name it, we do it in audio. But the real principle there was the storytelling and that audio were super powerful to let people lose their worries and lose themselves in something that felt really erotic and hopefully tap into something more easily than they were able to.
Scott: That is incredible. And you said something which I hadn’t really thought of, we’ve been working with Dipsea for a long time, but it sounds like you made the conscious choice to go audio instead of video. Is that a conscious choice you made and why would you do that?
Gina: Absolutely, I think to take you back to the very beginning, I was having conversations with girlfriends in college about how things were harder than they wanted them to be. Why is it hard to have an orgasm? Why is it hard to feel like you’re connecting to a partner? Do I have low libido? These questions that were really tormenting friends in my life. And I realized that almost a decade later in my late 20’s, women were still having the same conversations. And to me again, this wasn’t a question of understanding your own anatomy better, it wasn’t a question of a lack of education. It was a question of a lack of inspiration. What is the content that actually helps me to get there? So, to me, audio was really interesting because it did a couple things. First of all, super immersive, it’s almost the closest medium we have to our own thoughts. Super intimate, it’s right up in your ear.
Scott: Beautiful point, yeah. That’s an amazing point, yeah.
Gina: So that’s really special. And then I think the second thing that’s really important is that it’s imaginative. So, your brain is creating a visual movie on what you’re hearing and it can be exactly what you want it to be. You can imagine the bodies that feel right to you, you can put yourself inside that story, you can be a voyer of that story, you can imagine the scenario that they’re in, and Dipsea does a really good job I think of creating just enough of a blueprint that you can decorate the house, and that’s really powerful too. And so not only was it really powerful in all these ways, I think it’s diametrically opposite from video in so many ways, because video gives it exactly to you straight. There’s nothing to really imagine. It’s that you’re watching it. It’s super graphic, it’s right in front of you. And there is a gender difference there. I always say I don’t know whether that’s nature or nurture. I don’t know why women and men are different in these ways, but sex researchers have found that there is a big difference, that men are more likely to say if they go into their browser and they look for a body type or a sex act and women are much more likely to be romance, love, connection, chemistry, intimacy, and that tends to be romance novels or stories or literotica because it’s more of a narrative.
Scott: Yeah, the romance novel analogy makes so much sense. You said two things that I can really relate to too, the immersiveness and the imagination with audio. And I have found, especially with COVID, I’ve actually found that I’m listening to so many podcasts now and so much audio even around the house sometimes when I’m doing dishes, things like that. And it’s very soothing, and it is, you escape your own world. I have a little daughter and I’m married. But I can kind of have my own time in a very weird way just by putting the AirPods in, and that’s really crazy. The other thing I’ve found is some of the podcasts I listen to, they’ve become that imagination aspect. I almost feel like they’re my friends. It’s a combination of immersive and imagine. Like, I can feel, and I know it’s a one-way relationship, but it’s like this, like you said, you just get so into it. Like, “Oh, it’s my friends, their new podcast is out. I get to talk to my friends or listen to my friends talk.”
Gina: You know what I think you’re hitting on, which is really smart, and I haven’t really thought of it that way? I think audio when it’s suspended your disbelief, which video can do too, which film can do too, but when audio does it, it’s almost suspending your disbelief that these are people that you don’t know.
Scott: Yeah, that’s a great way of saying it. Because I feel like I know them. And anyways, I just think that was a super smart choice. And I asked that question I know also because I know guys tend to be very visual, but through COVID, I’ve discovered this other aspect of I really like the audio aspect of things and it is just so immersive and it’s really fun. So super smart choice for you to make in the early years.
Gina: You’re not alone in that. Audio is blowing up for a lot of good reason. There’s crazy statistics that 13% of millennials listened to a podcast every single day, 37% listen to a podcast every week. Those are huge numbers. Really exciting.
Scott: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m at least one a day for sure. Maybe you can talk about the different variety of stories, the different varieties of content you have on Dipsea.
Gina: Yeah, totally. So, it’s probably not a surprise to anyone listening that everyone has a very diverse preference. What person A is into is different from what person B into is different from what person C into, and there’s a lot of beauty in that, but it’s also really hard as a business to make sure you’re making everyone happy. So, we think a lot about what it means to create enough content for a lot of people to find what they like. And that is just an interesting question as a content business, how much do you need? And so, we started with our intuitions and now we’re better guided of course by data, since we have so much more of it with so many more subscribers, we have all sorts of content. We have content for straight folks, we have content for queer folks, we have content voiced by people of all different backgrounds, ethnicities, races, because it’s important to hear yourself in these stories. We believe that very firmly at Dipsea. You can search by how explicit stories are. So, some stories are just super romantic and flirty and cute and other stories go all the way so to speak. And it’s important to really be clear about what you’re going to get in the story because expectation setting matters here. And that’s really important for feeling these experiences, not just premium and that it looks beautiful but premium in that it keeps you safe. So, if I am triggered by a story about infidelity, I’m going to tell a user that because I do not want them surprised by that information. So, we think about that too.
Scott: I was thinking of the safe word too. Because it’s so immersive and because you’re so into it, it needs to be a safe type of thing for the person so they don’t have a adverse reaction. And that makes so much sense. On the content creation side, I’m assuming people go once… Because you’re such a new paradigm, I don’t think anything Dipsea has really existed aside from the romance novel kind of thing. Are people just going… Once they find you and once they find what works for them or what they like, are they just going super deep? Are you getting constant… One of those categories you named, are you just getting a constant request for more stuff? Because I could totally see that happening.
Gina: You know, people ask a lot, what is your most popular content? And while we do have a couple of standout stories and characters that people love, the honest answer is that there is not one piece of content that works for everyone. So, it’s not like we have this one category that is just like, “Oh, this is it. This is our winning type.” But there are definitely people who follow a character and follow a series and will listen all in one night. And so that’s a recent feature that we launched. We were realizing that people sometimes wanted to come in for a 15-minute story, which is the basic timeline of most of our stories, they’re pretty bite-sized. And some people want to listen to all six episodes of that series. And that’s much more akin to listening to a romance novel. It’s just a different style of listening. And so, we just recently released seamless play features so people can listen to them all at once, which is a super different paradigm. And for those who want to go deep, we want to let them do that. It’s pretty cool.
Scott: That’s cool, it’s so analogous to a Netflix binge though, right? I feel like we’ve all been trained… I get tired after a couple episodes, but now Netflix has trained us to have that option. So that’s really smart that you made that available for people
Gina: And you know what else I think it is too? Say you can’t go to sleep, you’re in that bedtime zone and you’re just not super tired yet. It gives you the option to extend that interesting liminal hour where you have this time to yourself and you’re cozy and you’re comfy. And if it takes 15 minutes in that space before bed to like have a great self-pleasure experience, awesome. Maybe you have that and then you just want to keep listening to the story. Great, so we just allow it to meet you where you are.
Scott: You might even be connecting with a different need post-it or something where you said friendship or other types of things. That’s really interesting. Hey, it’s Scott Orn at Kruze Consulting. And before we get back to the podcast, quick shout out to Chart Hop. ChartHop is one of my favorite new SAS tools on the market. And basically, what ChartHop does is it puts your org chart in the cloud. And I always like to say it brings transparency to your organization. And so, everyone in your organization can see who they report to, they can see the full org chart of the company and how their group relates to other groups. It also has a lot of information on the individuals in the company. And so, you can click on the ChartHop profile and just get where people live, their experience, Slack handles all this kind of stuff. And it’s just a really great tool. The other thing is ChartHop has started doing some cool stuff around compensation and budgeting planning. And so, you can actually start seeing what the cost structure of the company looks like for certain scenarios. So, I’m loving ChartHop, check it out, We use it at Kruze, really like it. And I can’t recommend it enough. All right, back to the podcast. Another thing that you have just started doing is celebrity storytellers. Do you want to talk about that a little bit?
Gina: Yeah, totally. So last week we released our first co-produced voice acted story with a celebrity. We worked with Sarunas J Jackson. He is an awesome actor who you might know as Dro from HBO’s Insecure. He has this amazing deep voice. He’s known as this guy that a lot of people have major crushes on because he’s kind of a super charismatic, amazing real person. And he was really excited to co-create with us. It was really fun. He did a three-part series with us. It’s actually still coming out this Sunday and the next Sunday as well. And it’s all about this rebellious fashion designer guy named Malcolm, who feels wronged by the press and people don’t get him. And then this reporter comes and he realizes it’s an old friend of his from school and she starts breaking down his walls. And it’s an interesting opportunity for him to portray real people who have sex lives and actually get to see that full experience. Because from his perspective, media is just starting to do that. It’s just starting to show people who are real outside the bedroom and real inside the bedroom, doing both is not necessarily common. So, he is really aligned with the mission and was a really awesome partner for us.
Scott: That’s a great point about are people real inside the bedroom? Because in any TV show or movie you watch, there’s the cliched love scene or make out scene or whatever and it’s always the same.
Gina: It’s perfect, it’s shiny, there’s no negotiation, there’s no like, “Hey, will you move your hips this way?” Like none of that. And so I think that that speaks to something else too. I could go on and on for a long time about working with celebrity voice actors. I think it’s going to be really exciting for us to have people come into our platform because they love a voice and want to hear them. But what would that really is is speaking to Dipsea’s greater mission and the importance we think that this has, which is hearing people have successful relationship interactions and successful sexual interactions just helps you model real stuff. You can read 18 blog posts on consent and still be like, “This feels awkward. I don’t know how to do this right.” And then you hear it a couple times in the story and you’re like, “Oh, that’s not weird at all. That’s super easy.” And someone like Sarunas plays that to a tee, right. You’re like, “Wow, so smooth, easy, I can do that.”
Scott: You said the word model, which I really like because, and this is a little bit my just personal growth just in life, as a father now I realized modeling the right behavior is so important to my… My daughter’s watching me constantly. And you don’t quite realize it until they start doing exactly your stuff.
Gina: Once you say that one bad word.
Scott: Yeah, exactly. And this is a different… We’re talking about different types of modeling behavior, but I really come around to understanding how important modeling the right behavior and how that actually helps you, the modeler, and the person that’s observing it. So, I think that’s really cool. I never would’ve thought about that even for guys, historically or traditionally, guys are often the initiator of stuff and there’s no handbook that they give a guy when he’s 18 years old that says how to do this kind of stuff.
Gina: Unfortunately, there is a handbook and it’s porn and it’s not a good handbook. It’s a bad handbook.
Scott: Yeah, that’s a really good point. So, there’s so much anxiety and so much like… You just don’t know what to do and things like that. Or the negative model. So, I hadn’t even thought about that, that you’re providing that service or benefit or just helping the world in that way.
Gina: It’s really interesting. I love the point that you just made that this is so super important with kids, the idea of modeling. And what I say sometimes is it’s really obvious to us as society that we teach kids with storytelling. Like if you want to teach kids about morality, read them Aesop’s fable. If you want to teach them about being nice to their friends, you read a children’s book. And so, it makes sense to us that we teach kids through story, but we teach adults their story too. It just feels like less of a direct obvious thing, but it really is powerful and a way more interesting way to learn.
Scott: Yeah, again, and I keep coming back to that immersive and imagine… It’s such an intense way to learn, but it’s such a practical way to learn because you’re role-playing through the character and through what you’re hearing in your headphones. So, I really love that. Dipsea is also an early pioneer of this type… There’re other companies that are doing different things audio wise, like Calm, and we talked about Moshi, which is for kids and things like that. How did you go to market with this? Because it was such a unique idea. You had to create the content, how’d you find distribution? How did you do advertising? How did you build the brand? What’s been your story there?
Gina: Yeah, in the beginning, I think the biggest question was what are you talking about? Whether we’re talking to friends or investors, you can wax [inaudible] about the philosophy and your girlfriends are like, “Yeah, I want that.” And then you’re like, “Okay, but audio stories, do you think you’d listen?” And they’re like, “Well, I don’t know. What is it?” We had to make it, we had to make it exist for people to understand. And so those first six stories true… Our version of the startup basement or the startup garage was being in Faye’s kitchen, plugging all the appliances or unplugging all the appliances because they make more noise than you think and recording friends of friends to make the first six stories. And those first six stories are not our best work. Compared to recent stories, they’re laughably bad, but they at least expressed an intent, like this is what we’re going for. And so we used those first six stories to put them up on a Squarespace and just see if people got it. And we sent it to 200 women and the next day we saw that the website had seen 1,200 unique visitors. And we were like, “Okay, that’s cool.” Even if this isn’t-
Scott: So, people sent it to their friends, basically.
Gina: Exactly, so even if it wasn’t like, “Oh, these stories really turned me on,” it was like, “Whoa, this is interesting. I’m curious about this and I want to share it with someone.” And so that was enough to start verifying that this crazy idea we had was interesting to people. We just had to execute it right. And of course, execution remains the hardest part. So, I joked earlier about the why is my favorite question. The how and the what suddenly were hitting me in the face, like, “Okay, how are we going to do this?” We raised some money with that early excitement, this idea that this new space obviously had huge potential and romance was just an exciting… It was bolstering the publishing industry, essentially, so a lot of opportunity to capture millennials in that way. And so, we started making more pieces with this one producer that we had, Angela, she is very much, Dipsea was built on Angela’s back. She’s an extremely talented producer. We made a ton of content, as much as we could before we launched, we launched a year later, and we wanted to create something that even if it wasn’t perfect yet, felt different. It felt like it cracked through. And I think my background in brand definitely helped with that. Whether you’re trying to stand out from competition or whether you’re trying to change people’s perception of a space, the most powerful thing you can do is create something that feels like an experience. And I think Dipsea felt like an experience from the start. Even if it wasn’t what it was today. What are all those-
Scott: You said a couple of things, if I can jump in for a second, that I find super fascinating. I think you and I might have similar personalities. I like the dream and to figure out the why. And then you said the how and the what. And so that’s the beauty of doing a startup is you’re forced to do the how and the what and really do it. Looking back now, because you said a couple that it wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t our best work, but we did it, we got it out, all these kinds of things that really Vanessa started our company. And then I joined five and a half years ago, but we had the same thing. We knew we weren’t perfect in the early days, but we were a big improvement over what else was out there. And we also knew that we were learning really rapidly. And I as a dreamer person feel like I got a ton of personal power or personal improvement or something going through that experience of learning how to do a how and learning how to do a what. Did something like that happen for you? Or how do you feel about that?
Gina: Yes, you’re hitting the nail on the head. Okay, so my first job, or my first real job as a design strategist, as a brand strategist at Character, to their credit, perfection was the expectation. Client presentations were polished, they were scripted, they’re super precise. And then at my second job, there was more of a, “Let’s let the client in on the messiness of the process. Let’s show them the post-its,” and it made me super anxious. I was like, “I don’t want to show a client post-its, I want to show them something that they’re going to be like, ‘that’s great work.’” And this creative director really pushed me to let go of the perfectionism a little bit. I think if I hadn’t had those training wheels before Dipsea, I would have had a really hard time because basically what I learned pretty quick at starting a company is there’s a perfect way and there’s a bad way. And then there’s a way that works. And that is not necessarily the perfect way.
Scott: Yeah, but you’ve also experienced the perfect way so you can work towards that. Dipsea is not just about getting more listeners and subscribers, and you’re probably also perfecting the experience. And probably that part of your brain is probably doing that kind of work too, which is really cool.
Gina: Oh yeah, and having a co-founder that is so different than me is helpful. If I’m more likely to be like, “Let’s get it pixel perfect. And let’s make sure that everything sings,” Faye is more likely to be like, “Let’s ship it and see,” and that balance has really been helpful. And yeah, I think we are constantly pushing for perfection and probably other people would call it that before I would call it that. But it helps to have that balance of perspectives where you’re like, “We got to try, we got to see and let’s see what comes back.” And of course, that’s what you’re doing for the first couple of years.
Scott: You’ve built a really cool company and I’m so excited for your future because it feels like you also… I think I met you probably two or three months into the journey and even just having this conversation, there’s so many more nuggets that I can see how it’s really come together and you’ve learned so much and you’re not just learning, but you’re taking that learning and doing, it’s really cool. I think the celebrity stuff will be huge because there’s certain… We talked offline, but my daughter listened to Moshi a million times, Goldie Hawn on Moshi a million times. I think probably for a year straight, every night. And there’s something about those, first of all, they’re professional actors and actresses and they know how to tell a story with their words and I just think this is going to be humongous for you. And I also think there’s also that prospect of these people have fans and people who consume all of their work. And I think that’s going to turbocharge that aspect of it too for you.
Gina: Yeah, that’s what we’re betting on. I think there’s a lot of ways you can grow and the most exciting way to grow is to bring groups of excited fans in to get more of what they already love. And celebrities definitely let you do that. And I’m excited to work with more people whose voices are just so beloved. Calm does such a great job with that too. People freak out over Harry Styles. How many people have asked now, when is Harry Styles going to be in the Dipsea platform? Let this be known, Harry Styles, we want you on Dipsea.
Scott: Luckily Harry is a listener of Kruze podcast. So that’s going to come down.
Gina: Amazing, that’s what I want to hear.
Scott: Well, I’m so excited about Dipsea. Maybe you can tell everyone where to find Dipsea, how to reach out if they want to get in contact, or if there is a celebrity listening to this, how they can get into contact to do a celebrity reading.
Gina: Amazing, so you can find us that, that’s D-I-P-S-E-A And our app is on the app store, it’s on the play store and we have a web app too. And yeah, we’re always looking for collaborators, we’re always looking for voice actors. We’re definitely looking for celebs to partner with, so you know where to find us and we’re excited to keep building this thing to reach more people. I can’t wait.
Scott: Awesome, thank you Gina, I really appreciate it.
Gina: Thanks for having me.
Singer: (singing). It’s Kruze Consulting. Founders and Friends with your host, Scotty Orn.

Kruze Consulting is regularly reviewed as one of the preeminent providers of finance, accounting, tax and HR services to high-growth companies. For our offices in San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Monica, New York and now Austin, TX, our experienced team serves venture and seed backed companies in diverse industries from SaaS to biotech to hardware to eCommerce.

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