In today's society, there is a proliferation of advertisements for men's sexual health products, which suggests that men's sexual health is well-researched and very well-funded, and it's given great importance in our society. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for women's sexual health products and conversations.
On this Preserve Podcast, we are joined by OB-GYN turned digital health entrepreneur Dr. Lyndsey Harper to address the disparity between the availability of sexual health information for men and women. Dr. Harper is the founder and CEO of Rosy, an award-winning women's health technology company that connects women with sexual health concerns with a supportive community and gives them access to research-backed solutions.
Named in Forbes' Top 53 Women Disrupting Healthcare, Dr. Lyndsey Harper shares how the Rosy app works to create personalized wellness plans for women of all ages and sexual preferences. Using a holistic model to combine medical, mental, and social approaches to treatment, each plan is unique to each user's needs.
Tune in to gain some insight into the process of raising funds and awareness for Rosy and find out how Dr. Harper's team is using the wealth of data they have collected to contribute to the collective body of knowledge about women's sexual health.
For a pertinent and compelling conversation about why we need to bring more awareness to women's sexual health issues, plus some actionable advice for aspiring entrepreneurs from Dr. Harper, you won't want to miss today's episode of the Persevere Podcast!
Topics discussed in this episode:
- The process of raising money and awareness for Rosy
- Trading IRL patients for a virtual community of over 200,000
- Helping women feel seen, heard, and connected at scale
- How Dr. Harper fell in love with heart-centered leadership
- Insight into fundraising and building relationships with investors
- Building a collective body of knowledge about women’s sexual health
- Opportunities to influence long-term public health outcomes
- Dr. Harper’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: use your network!
Catch Patty Post and Dr. Lyndsey Harper at HLTH 2022, from November 13 - 15.
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You can also find Patty Post on LinkedIn!
Connect with Checkable Health:
0:00:02.7 S1: Welcome to The Persevere Podcast, powered by Checkable Medical and hosted by Patty Post, a female founder, entrepreneur, wife, and mother of three doing all of the things. The strength to persevere in business is powered by passion, grit, and hard work. The Persevere Podcast is for entrepreneurs and business leaders who set out to innovate and change the world with their ideas. Whether it's fundraising your startup, product development, marketing, branding, or scaling your existing business, this podcast is for you. We'll discuss everything it takes to persevere and build the business you've always dreamed of. Let's make it happen. Welcome to The Persevere Podcast where we help founders create awesome businesses and products, and not run out of money. Hi, I'm Patty Post, founder and CEO of Checkable Health. I started this podcast because I experienced loneliness and solitude as a solo founder. I had no one to turn to and I couldn't find relevant content for founders of high-tech startups like me. So, like the true entrepreneur I am, I started and decided to do it myself. I really believe as founders, we need to keep persevering because what you are building in the world needs to be built, and if you don't persevere, no one else is going to.
0:01:28.9 S1: So keep on doing it. Today, my guest is Dr. Lyndsey Harper, she is an OB-GYN turned founder of a digital health app called Rosy. Rosy is a women's sexual health app, and it will help you create a personalized wellness plan. It's no secret that men’s sexual health is something that has been of great importance to our society. It's no secret that you will turn on a TV show and you will probably hear an ad for men's sexual health. It's been very well-researched, very well funded, and it's something that has taken great importance in our society. Dr. Lyndsey Harper, as a practicing OB-GYN, she saw that her patients were coming to her with these sexual frustrations, whether that was lack of sex, lack of desire, pain, she saw that this was something that was really common, and when she looked out into the market, she couldn't find any assets and/or communities or products that could help these women. So like the true entrepreneur that she is, she decided to create Rosy. She had raised just under $4 million to fund this business, and she has a team of over 10 that are developing this native app. She is the only one in the country doing it, and her story is incredible. I think it's inspiring.
0:03:00.4 S1: I also think that it gives me confidence that there is something in the world for everyone. Dr. Harper has a wonderful opportunity ahead of her, she has over 200,000 downloads on her app, and I'm excited to see her at the HLTH Conference, where she's speaking on November 15th. So if you're going to the conference, you should look both of us up because we would love to meet you. When you identified that there was a gap in the world and you were going to create Rosy, was it uncomfortable going out and raising money and sharing the story and building this? Tell us about that.
0:03:45.0 S2: Yeah, totally. I mean, I think it's so funny to think about it now. So yes, I had never... I was a doctor, I never asked anybody for money to do anything, right? That was a weird thing, that part, I definitely had to get my head around. I'm like, am I literally just... And I remember my very first pitch like it was literally yesterday, the topic for me, I had a bit of a self-reflection period where I was like, is this really about to be my life? I was not prepared to be a spokesperson for this, and I had never been such, really in any other manner in my life, and so... But I was angry enough about it where I was like, Okay, if I don't do this, I'm not sure that it's going to happen. So it was almost like a feeling of obligation, like I thought the thought I had the wherewithal and also the personal support to make it happen, so if I didn't do it, I was gonna feel really bad about that, you know what I'm saying? And so kind of once you have that realization, there's really no turning
0:04:51.4 S1: Back... Right, and you're ordained for it. This is for you.
0:04:57.7 S2: Go do this, you know? Then I had to be like, well, isn't the fact that I'm questioning how people are gonna receive me personally, and this topic, isn't that the problem in and of itself? It is, right. And so the fact if I was gonna be daunted by that, then this was doomed, and so I just made a decision like, no, that thought angers me that we can't have a respectable conversation about a women's health topic without fear of being judged. That makes me mad, and therefore I'm gonna do whatever I can to change it, so once the flip was switched for me and I realized, yes, I'm gonna have to be the face of this company, I'm in a great position as a physician to be a spokesperson about this like, I gotta go, I gotta do it. And there was also a conversation like, If you don't wanna leave practice, which was another huge issue for me, we'll get somebody else to run this, and I was like, Nope, this is my fourth child, I’m not handing her over to anyone, so let's do it. And kind of ever since that sort of maybe two-month decision time period, I have literally never looked back.
0:06:06.8 S2: And honestly, I have to share that it has been very well received. If people hate what I'm doing or think that I'm like, whatever adjective that you might wanna put on it, they're not telling me that to my face, which I'm fine with. Totally. And we've had so many like, so much wind in our sails from the medical community, from women, from people like you who are helping us spread the word, that it's just... You get all those signals where it's like, yes, we're doing the right stuff, we're on the right path, we're making great progress, like, we're gonna keep going. So all signs are continuing to point us in this direction for sure. That's awesome. Thank you.
0:06:44.9 S1: So you couldn't stop thinking about it. You took two months to be like, Okay, I'm a doctor, I have a practice, I have patients. Pregnant patients. Yes, that made a lot of women mad, I bet. Like, Oh no. Where are you going? I was upset. Yes.
0:07:02.3 S2: It was very upsetting. Yes, it was. And yeah, so I made the decision, I announced to my patients about six months before I actually left, so that if they wanted to find... I had partners they could see, I felt guilty about leaving my partners 'cause I love them so much. To this day, they're such great supporters. And then my patients, you have such a great connection with them and that was really hard and sad, but also I have other... This is a wonderful, great part of my life as well.
0:07:30.4 S1: Now you have... How many users do you have right now?
0:07:33.2 S2: So we have around 200,000 accounts created on the platform.
0:07:37.3 S1: Yeah, take 200,000 patients that when I try to call and get into my gynecologist is nine months right, so that would mean it would take me nine months to take care of my sexual health. Really what you're doing right now is you're giving me access right now and you're giving me the treatment, the access, the treatment, and the community, it's just so many different things that you're actually doing more than you were when you were practicing in your practice.
0:08:12.7 S2: Definitely, no, it's my…honestly, it's my pleasure for sure. It definitely looks differently because I don't... I still practice every once in a while at the hospital, so that's where I get my patient fix, where I get to lay hands and do surgery, and I love just the interaction. So I had to trade that regular one-on-one like, Let me hold your hand while we talk about this really tough thing, whether that was pregnancy loss or divorce or whatever that really tough thing was, that I love that moment where it's like, I am here for you, I hear you, I see you. Or this opportunity to do something that can change the world. And so for me, it's always a balance of like, how do I create that connection on the platform for women where they feel seen, they feel heard, they feel connected, but we are able to do it at scale, and that's the really ultimate dream for Rosy.
0:09:04.3 S1: It is a beautiful app, it is so well-developed, so you have definitely put in the thought leadership and the medical-clinical side of the app, but then aesthetically, it's very beautiful and the user experience is prime. Thank you. So can you tell us about that and your intentionality behind that, how you build that team just... Wherever you wanna go, I would love for you to share with us. Absolutely, yeah. Gen one to where you are now.
0:09:39.1 S2: Yeah, so the team has been such a... Just cherry on top of this whole experience. I did not know that I would love leadership so much, I did not know I would love each of my team members, have such a sense of personal responsibility for everybody on the team, because literally the first few employees, I was like, for real, you're gonna quit your their job and come and work on this with me? Are you sure? But you can't say that, but I still feel so just grateful that these people did that and I don't know, I think I've been really... I have always sort of hired and led from a really heart, it sounds so hokey but Brene Brown, heart-centered place, to say I really value hustle, I really value passion, I really value the ability to do what is needed when it's needed over titles and experience and accolades. And so that balance that's different than other people hire, I will say, but for me, what it's led to is a really invested, really talented, scrappy team, which is exactly what you need at a startup company. And we are all very invested in one another, and in the company's success because we are driven by this mission every day, and we know that it's not about our individual contribution but truly like, if the mission is successful, what is our global contribution? And so that's been my sort of tendency thus far. I plan to always lead that way, I think it's such an honor and a privilege, and it leads to your point, like such a beautiful body of work that you can tell people's hearts are in.
0:11:28.6 S2: For sure.
0:11:30.6 S1: I was just saying this to my team, we were... I was seeing the app in Figma, walking through, looking at this user experience, and I just had to stop and look at everyone and say, I'm so grateful that all of you are here committing to this mission. From a founder's perspective, is there any greater feeling?
0:11:53.7 S2: There's nothing greater... Like literally nothing greater.
0:11:56.6 S1: I’m so with you. And they're all just good people. And then you think of this beautiful product that you have. It’s so exciting, right?
0:12:07.3 S2: It is. It's very exciting for sure, yeah.
0:12:11.1 S1: Do you or your child have symptoms of strep throat, such as sore throat or fever? Do you want to help an innovative startup validate their at-home strep test? Checkable Medical is currently enrolling children ages five and up, and adults for a strep throat study, go to www.testforstrep.com to see if there's a site near you. Again, that website is www.testforstrep.com. When you raise, how much money have you... Are you past your series A?
0:12:46.6 S2: No, we have not raised our series A, we have raised a pre-seed and a seed, so a total of just over three million, like 3.15 or something. Okay, congratulations. Thank you.
0:12:57.4 S1: And you have... I think I first saw you because of looking at True Wealth Ventures’ website, and then that's where I sort of did some research and got Somi to put us together, so that was very nice. Yeah. How do you, out of curiosity, keep your investors updated on what you're doing and what's that relationship like with different investors?
0:13:21.0 S2: So it's been an interesting evolution, right. So since I started that very first pitch meeting that I was just telling you about was... And this totally threw me for a loop, but it was a yes, the very first time I ever pitched. And I was literally like, what? And so I had the same experience as I did with my very early employees, which is to say like, are you sure? I know this is literally a billion-dollar industry, but also like, me? And this? Are you sure this is it? And so you go through this evolution from being like, thank you so much for this opportunity to work on my passion and build this team and build this product. And then you start getting real and serious traction, and so it's wonderful to be supported by a team of people who really, once again, are driven by the mission, really believe in me as the founder, and have a set of portfolio companies who can support us in real ways through their experiences or through their connections or whatever. So from Carrie’s perspective, Carrie from True Wealth, I heard her talk on a panel, and this was before I had even left practice, and I was like, oh, she will be an investor in Rosy. And so I just worked that entire time on building that relationship, on showing her the data that she needed and then that they led our Seed Round, so that was a really awesome occasion for us because I wanted them to be a part of this from the very beginning. But that is also said for all of our angels, we have Portfolia in the round, we also had another VC called Mindshift, and there's...
0:15:05.2 S2: SoGal, which are great in New York. Yeah, and then Avestria, I’m sorry not Avestria, they have just changed their name to... It used to be Joyance. So anyway, wonderful VCs who wanna see us successful and who also help us to work on all the fundamentals that are always moving and shifting. So that's been great. I send investor updates quarterly to everybody who has invested in the company, and then when it comes time to raise again, we start getting the wheels turning with what are the plans for the next round, what are the milestones we're gonna raise and then I'll be touching base about all of those things pretty soon, so
0:15:47.6 S1: Do you use Carta? We do, I love that. Isn't that amazing?
0:15:52.3 S2: It's amazing. Yeah, there are definitely great things about it that make things a lot easier, but it is quite the investment, so that's.
0:16:02.5 S1: I agree, you're supposed to be for startups, but I can't afford you.
0:16:07.2 S2: That doesn't make sense, but I paid for it. We all pay for it because that's what our investors require, but it's an investment for sure. But it does make life easier, I will say.
0:16:17.0 S1: Yeah, and sending the updates, I think that's nice through there, and we just invested in the compensation package that I think is good as we look at budgeting for the next 18 months and go out to raise our series A. Then we can make sure that we're competitive in our compensation as well as with shares, how much is our option pool, and how much are we gonna give everyone? Are we being fair? So I thought that was worth the investment as well.
0:16:46.1 S2: Yeah, it helps you keep a nice high level instead of getting in the weeds, like sometimes you can. Yes, and better than Glassdoor. This is the only one we've ever used, so I can't speak, but... Yeah.
0:16:58.4 S1: That's all we can do. So I just wanted to ask you two questions and then I'll let you go. Great. The one question is, where are you at in the company right now, and what are you working on as your team, as the leader? What are you all working on?
0:17:12.5 S2: So I think we have a lot of things going for us. So where we are at is that we have lots of engaged and really, I would say, enthusiastic users. We have great data that we've been able to share at multiple conferences and that some of them have been published about Rosy's efficacy, meaning women who use Rosy show better outcomes when it comes to sexual health. But we also are able to contribute back to the field of just women’s sexuality in general. I think at this point, we probably have the largest data set in the field, there's not anybody else doing what we're doing, and we're very committed to expanding what everyone knows about women's sexual health. So using that data in a very responsible way to add back to the collective body of knowledge. I'm very proud of that. And we also have a very engaged and I would say supportive community of healthcare providers. We have more than 7% of OBGYN around the country recommending Rosy to their patients, more than 4,900, I need to update that number, physicians and therapists recommending Rosy to their patients, so extremely enthusiastic healthcare-provider recommendation network, which makes me so proud as well.
0:18:30.4 S2: And then the thing that we've started working on this year, and I think of where we're headed, are these opportunities for more pilots and partnerships. We just finished one this summer through the Roche Creasphere program, where we did a pilot with Roche Diagnostics and really looked at Rosy as an opportunity to improve educational understanding of HPV and cervical cancer screening and awareness, and then also intention to discuss screening with their healthcare providers. So not only can we as individuals receive benefit from Rosy when it comes to our sexual-health goals. But I think there are also some population-health opportunities where we can really change behavior, increase screening, increase early detection, change those long-term healthcare outcomes in women's health that we all are so concerned about. So that stuff is really exciting and I'm spending a lot of time working on other opportunities like that. Wow.
0:19:25.9 S1: That's huge. Roche is a great strategic to partner with.
0:19:30.7 S2: For sure. Congratulations. Oh, thank you. It came once again through one of the physicians that loves Rosy, she works there and she brought us up to their innovation team, and so things like that keep happening. We've have a ton of data coming out of Cedars for the same reason, we have some opportunities within all these systems that we would never be able to get to at our stage because of our physician champions within those organizations, so literally such a gift.
0:19:56.5 S1: That is incredible. And to get those physicians, are you leading that charge or are you? Yeah.
0:20:02.0 S2: Yeah, that's one of my jobs, it's not even the network as much as it is, I just do a lot of education in the field. One of my drum beats is women's sexual health, it's not that complicated. And so as far and wide as I can spread that message, then that brings physicians into this conversation that haven't gone here, but they recognize it’s a problem, but they didn't have that training, so how can we make that pathway to where they're not feeling confident to feeling really confident when helping their patients with these, and so that's a lot of the work that I do in medicine and in women's health.
0:20:38.6 S1: You have a perfect background for it too, I mean, you're excited about it, you’re a founder, you're a doctor, and... Very cool, I can see why you have had such great adoption of the platform and it's just a fantastic product.
0:20:51.7 S2: Well, thank you so much.
0:20:53.3 S1: You are so welcome. The last question that I have is for people that are listening that are aspiring entrepreneurs or they're very early on, which is most of the time, the hardest time to think of can I keep going? Yeah. Would you have any words of inspiration, advice or just something that you can share as a closing comment with the audience? Totally.
0:21:14.8 S2: Yeah, I would say if you're feeling stuck, examine where that feeling is coming from, right, and then just see in your network, whether it's like your friend group, your professional group, or just on a random podcast, or LinkedIn, who is available to you that can help you get through that problem. Whether it's a mindset change or whether it's actually the answer to your problem, there is somebody out there who is willing to help you and who is excited to help you, and they will get you from A to B. They're not gonna do the work for you, but they're gonna give you either the confidence that you need or the information that you need to solve whatever problem that you're working on. So if you're stuck, it's time to reach out, come out of your sand hole, ask around, and I cannot tell you how many times I've done that, and people are just so open and willing to engage, and that has gotten us over so many problems. And continues to today that I'm still just so filled with gratitude for all the people that take 10 or 15 minutes or make an introduction for me, or whatever the case may be for whatever problem I'm facing, 'cause there's somebody who's faced it before and is there to kind of help guide you through it, you're not alone.
0:22:25.0 S2: It feels pretty lonely sometimes, but in fact, there's enough of us out there who know that feeling to wanna change it and provide that support for others.
0:22:34.2 S1: You just gave the same advice that Kate Hawken did from Maxwell and Geraldine. I love that. She said her connection was, she asked and it was someone at Kate Spade. Amazing. And she got time with them, and then they introduced this manufacturer and a textile supplier, and it's like a snowball, and that is... It's not pick up the phone, LinkedIn email. Just do it because everyone is willing to help.
0:23:01.5 S2: That's right, and if they're not, then that's fine too. But if you're gonna... Yeah, for us, I was working on all this, and as I mentioned, I have had no therapy background, I'm a doctor, I don't know what I'm talking about. I knew a little bit more now than I used to, but I read a book by Laurie Mintz, who is a very well-known sex therapist, and she wrote “A Tired Woman's Guide to Passionate Sex,” and “Becoming Cliterate,” and I was like, this is the woman that I need. So I randomly, I don't even know how I reached out to her. I think I may have gotten her email or maybe I just reached out on her website, I don't know, and she wrote me back and is now part of the Rosy platform. I gave a talk with her at the national OBGYN meeting last year, she is one of my dear friends, and it's all because I just randomly wrote her an email on her website, you know what I mean? That is so cool. I can probably give you 10 more examples just like that, where the door is just opened when you push on them a little bit.
0:23:55.7 S2: Yeah.
0:23:56.3 S1: I did the same with Dr. Lester Hartman of a strep study, and I called this care coordinator and he was the only one to run a strep study with Boston Children's, and he loved it... he went to my FDA pre-sub. I loved it.
0:24:09.4 S2: That's amazing. Yeah. So people wanna help. They do. Well.
0:24:14.9 S1: Dr. Harper, it was so nice to have you on the Persevere Podcast. Thank you so much, and I am really stressing that people, women should download the Rosy app. It is a wonderful work, and I really hope to meet you when we are... I think you're gonna be at the HLTH Conference as well. You're speaking right?
0:24:36.7 S2: I'm speaking. Yeah, I'll see you there.
0:24:38.8 S1: Well, I will be there in the front row cheering you on. Thank you so much for your time.
0:24:44.0 S2: Thank you for having me. This has been great fun, I really appreciate it. You bet.
0:24:49.4 S1: Now, if you loved this episode, and if you wanna keep the conversation going, head over to LinkedIn and find the Persevere Podcast community, we will continue the conversation as well as connect with other founders and talk about the challenges that we're facing and the opportunities that exist. It's great to network as founders and everyone is welcome. Do you know someone that would be a good fit for the Persevere Podcast? Please direct message me on any social channel at Patty Post CEO. And I'd love to hear your suggestions. This podcast is brought to you by the Checkable Health Production Team and edited by the Grow The Show team. Well, that was an excellent episode. Dr. Harper, thank you so much for joining me. I think that this is a prime example of being an entrepreneur, finding a gap and then creating the solution and being driven to get it done. Dr. Harper, I love doctors that turn entrepreneurs, it's a very unique skill set, and it takes a lot of brilliance, and it takes a lot of gumption, I think, to take a very steady medical practice and move it into a high-tech company that's extremely risky, but as you heard, lots of people are on board with Dr. Harper.
0:26:13.8 S1: And you know what, I hope that she really inspires other people and other women specifically to help fill the gap in sexual health and just in women's health in general. We need more research done, we need more funding, and we need more products that help women's health move forward. We are so important, keep on changing the world. So with that, keep persevering, and please give us five stars, it keeps us going; subscribe, and until next time you keep on persevering in business. Thank you for listening to The Persevere Podcast, powered by Checkable Medical. Head over to perseverepodcast.com for notes, links, and additional resources from today's show. To continue hearing insights and gaining knowledge from those persevering, succeeding and making their dream of reality, be sure to subscribe through your favorite podcast app. Now go make it happen.