Identify the concern: Solving problems can bring to life never-before-mentioned concerns. That’s important to think about: when you identify a problem, you’re bringing forward a unique and important perspective that can make a life altering impact for a person. For my patients, struggling with low sexual desire was a very real and personal challenge that even I, a trained physician, wasn’t aware so many women dealt with. As I searched for resources to help support these women, it was clear that a modern solution was not available — so we set out to create one.
As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful App or SAAS”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Lyndsey Harper.
Dr. Harper is the Founder and CEO of Rosy, the evidence-based mobile platform helping women with decreased sexual desire. After completing her Ob/Gyn residency in 2011 at Baylor University Medical Center, she saw patients in her private practice for 7 years. She is an Associate Professor of Ob/Gyn for Texas A&M College of Medicine, a Fellow of The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and a Fellow of the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, the oldest of 2 siblings. I went to the University of Arkansas for both undergrad and med school, met my husband, Scott, in 2006 and we have three children who make us really proud and really tired.
I wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remember. Even as a young child, I loved taking care of my toys and “fixing” whatever ailment they had. And after what seemed like an eternity in school, medical school, and then residency, I was fortunate enough to work in my own private practice as an Ob/Gyn for seven years in Dallas, Texas, where I delivered more than 2,000 babies and cared for some of the coolest women I have ever known.
In 2018, I transitioned from full-time medicine to the startup world, working with a team of designers and engineers to develop a platform that provides evidence-based resources for the 31 million in the U.S. women who suffer from low libido.
Now, I wear many hats — mom, wife, doctor, and CEO — and I am excited for what 2020 has to bring.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led you to think of the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
I began noticing a trend when many of my patients would come into my office and share that they had lost sexual desire with their partner. It was adversely affecting their relationship in real ways, and my patients were looking desperately to me for answers. And to be honest, based on my medical training at the time, I had none. As I began searching for solutions for my patients, I quickly realized that resources for women struggling with low libido were sparse — and training for physicians on the subject was severely lacking, to put it nicely — and so I set out to do something about it.
Why not create an app that would empower women to improve their sexual desire by giving them the tools they need right in the palm of their hand? Several months later, we introduced Rosy to the world to help women take control of their sexual health.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
When I first started Rosy, I felt like I stepped off of a spaceship onto a completely new planet. I had come from the medical world where I spoke with patients about their health to determine the best treatment options. Next thing I know, I found myself in an office talking about usability, branding and project management workflows. It was like learning a new language.
I was starting at ground zero again in my career, and I dealt with a lot of self-doubts. I had to work on my communication skills, leadership abilities and how to get a team on the same page. To be quite honest, I often questioned if I could pull it off.
However, I knew that women desperately needed more options, and I had to believe in myself — that I was the one who was going to bring this vision to fruition. So, I hired strategically to compensate for my own weaknesses. I read books, listened to podcasts and talked with many people in my network about developing a strong business strategy. Mainly, I learned how to listen better and ask for feedback.
Still, on the day we launched, we were very close to missing our deadline. Our team was underwater with the amount of work we had to do, and we were low on resources. It was our most challenging day yet as a team, and it was one of the days that shaped me the most as a leader. That day taught me of the importance of transparent and collective communication when it comes to problem-solving in the business world — of course, the same principles also apply in the medical world!
So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Since our launch in 2019, more than 12,000 women have joined the Rosy community to take matters regarding their own sexual health and well-being into their own hands, and we are continuing to grow. We’re listening to our users and learning more about what they are looking for every day. We are introducing new content and resources all of the time to improve the experience.
For me, personally, I think that a continuous commitment to just learning as much as possible — sometimes by figuring out what doesn’t work — and being open to new ideas and new ways of doing things has played a big role in the success of Rosy. I went from a profession where I had nearly a decade of education into one that I knew close to nothing about. There is not a lot of comfort in that! Yet, I believe so strongly in what we are doing, I am highly motivated to keep doing what has to be done.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
Let’s just say that early on, I learned the stark difference between Cc and Bcc in an email when sending a follow-up email to every investor I had ever pitched. I intended to blind copy everyone on the email and instead revealed everyone’s contact information to the entire group. I wanted to crawl into a hole and hide!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I created Rosy for the 38% of women that we know are dealing with a low sexual desire, and I would argue that the number is much higher. No one is talking about it and that can feel terribly isolating.
Much of the conversation surrounding sexual health and sexual desire has been very male-centric. Just take a quick glance at the number of medications focused on male sexual health, 23, compared to female, 2. It paints a pretty unbalanced picture. And that’s just from the medication standpoint. Coupled with the fact that this is such a common issue for women to have and yet our medical community is not adequately equipped to provide guidance or resources on these matters to patients is simply astounding.
With Rosy, we are making women feel heard and seen and we are offering them real solutions in a way that no one else has. Rosy provides women with a private, safe environment to talk about sex and the challenges they face surrounding sex without shame or embarrassment. Learning that you are not alone, and finding ways to take back control of your sexual health and relationship, is incredibly empowering. I’ll never forget the first time I read, “you helped save my marriage.” My heart was full. And now we receive those messages on a regular basis.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Everyone is different, but for me, I really have to check in with myself regularly so I don’t burn out. I spend time journaling and goal-setting to ensure I’m spending my time and energy on the goals that I have set for myself. I make sure I stay on track with the things that I need to do, before doing the extra things that might seem more fun and easy.
Checking in with yourself can look different on various days and for various people. Sometimes it’s reviewing your goals, exploring a new self-improvement class, working out, journaling, reading, organizing your calendar, taking a hot bath or spending time in a thought download — it just depends on what you need on that day or at that particular moment.
What really matters is focusing on the bigger picture and your purpose. It can be easy to get lost in the minutiae of daily life and begin burning out as you stress over all of the little things.
Focusing on your purpose, or end goal, is incredibly motivating. Sometimes what you need is to take a step back, check in with yourself in whatever way is best for you and remind yourself why you are doing this and what you are trying to achieve.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I am incredibly thankful for my husband, Scott.
He co-founded a successful technology company so he has been a tremendous resource for me. He understands how hard and scary it can be, and he is not afraid to be vulnerable with me about any of it. He has taught me several strategies on how to overcome my fears, which helped me to step into the role of tech founder and CEO more confidently.
Hearing honesty from people you respect is galvanizing, and Scott has done nothing but be honest and support me throughout this journey.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Approximately how many users or subscribers does your app or software currently have? Can you share with our readers three of the main steps you’ve taken to build such a large community?
I launched Rosy on Valentine’s Day 2019. Since then, Rosy has been downloaded more than 12,000 times, and more than 2,400 physicians have signed up to receive materials on Rosy to share with their patients.
I would attribute our early growth first and foremost to the amazing network of physicians from around the world that are actively exploring research and resources for their patients with low libido. Women are going to their doctors to share something extremely personal to them, and I wanted to create a solution doctors would feel comfortable directing their patients to. Establishing trust with your network is number one.
I also think because this topic still has a stigma around it, women are looking for a safe and discreet resource to get the help they need. I take that very seriously, and early on, we created a feedback loop for those early users to share comments and questions.
To this day, I still personally read and reply to every single Rosy message, comment and review. It’s our early users that have helped to shape Rosy and inspire new topics for everyone to explore.
Finally, so much of our early success has also been about timing. There is an immediate need for us to start having conversations about women’s sexual health. There are real benefits — and real consequences — when we don’t talk about it and make it a priority. But, more than conversations, we need solutions for women to get the help they need no matter where they are in their journey.
What is your monetization model? How do you monetize your community of users? Have you considered other monetization options? Why did you not use those?
I strongly believe that sex education should be available for free and for all. It’s why I made the decision early on to make Rosy a free platform. I figure since we have the resources and tools available at our fingertips to lift women up — let’s make it accessible for her to actually use it.
As our community grows, we are learning more about women and their sexual health journey than ever before. The data is showing us that Rosy is working — women are reporting back progress in their sexual wellness. We are continually adding new content and resources. And we just recently launched a first-of-its-kind community where Rosy users can anonymously ask questions or share advice with each other.
Establishing trust with our community is the most important, and we honestly couldn’t exist in a meaningful way if the education and community were behind a pay-wall.
At the same time, our company wouldn’t exist without a monetization strategy. So, I had to strike a balance and I added a premium subscription model where Rosy users can gain access to all of our content — educational videos, sexy stories, and guided Master Classes.
What we have learned is putting a value on this education has helped users stay committed to seeing it through and giving it enough time actually to see results.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful app or a SAAS? Please share a story or an example for each.
Identify the concern: Solving problems can bring to life never-before-mentioned concerns. That’s important to think about: when you identify a problem, you’re bringing forward a unique and important perspective that can make a life altering impact for a person.
For my patients, struggling with low sexual desire was a very real and personal challenge that even I, a trained physician, wasn’t aware so many women dealt with. As I searched for resources to help support these women, it was clear that a modern solution was not available — so we set out to create one.
Offer a clear solution: When you identify the concern, start to peel back the layers and reveal the pain points and longer-term effects that the concern is having on a person and how it impacts all those around them. When you do that, you can more clearly see a solution.
We knew that Rosy had to be more than just an “app about sex.” Instead, we needed to follow an evidence-based approach to understanding sexuality as a whole, taking into account the mental, emotional and physical aspects it entails and offering educational resources and support that encompasses each of those components.
Listen to your users: SaaS products do not exist without a loyal user base. In order to grow a strong community of users, you need to listen to them, frequently, and work to make sure your platform benefits them. This adds to your value and creates a much bigger difference.
With Rosy, we have worked to maintain a constant feedback channel to hear from our users to learn and understand what they need. Otherwise, we are just guessing.
Create an engaging and approachable environment: Make your customers feel comfortable and safe with you and your product. Become a trusted resource for your customers that they can feel secure in.
This is obviously of paramount importance to our Rosy community. While we are working to remove the shame and stigma that many women feel when dealing with low sexual desire, we understand that many of our users still feel very vulnerable even having these conversations.
One of our goals has always been for Rosy to be a community where every woman feels safe and confident. We want women to know they are not alone and they can find the resources they need to feel empowered to improve their lives however they see fit.
Continue finding new ways to add value: This really is a culmination of everything else. Make sure you are always thinking ahead on what your users want and need. Your product should look different today than when you first launched it. The moment you stop focusing on adding new value to your product, is the moment your users will start searching for something else.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I hope I am starting a movement with the work we are doing at Rosy. We are working to erase the sexual shame and isolation women experience around the globe. This starts by allowing women to be open and honest about their sexual wellness and feel empowered to take control of their sexual wellness. It’s time to change the way we talk about this issue and change the cultural norm from “join the club” to “you are not alone, and there is help.”
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Dr. Lyndsey Harper: “Here Are 5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful App or SaaS” was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.