Launching a Sex Therapy App During Covidby@purpur
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Launching a Sex Therapy App During Covid

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Purpur is a therapy app that helps to improve relationships through conversations. We cover a lot of topics connected with sexual life, but we believe that relationhips is much more than that. At Purpur, you can find questions about family planning, budgeting, home chores, and so on. The discussion passes are created by a team of certified psychotherapists and make it more comfortable for partners to discuss sex and relationships without any stigma. The idea is to help people better understand themselves through sharing stories and experiences and developing communication skills.

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Anfisa Savchenko HackerNoon profile picture

@purpur

Anfisa Savchenko

About @purpur
LEARN MORE ABOUT @PURPUR'S EXPERTISE AND PLACE ON THE INTERNET.

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In the beginning of 2020, when Covid-19 had just started its procession around the world, my adventurous colleague and I had just left the jobs at a major cosmetics brand in order to launch our own sexual wellness company. And, because people were locked down together and plenty of them lost their jobs, our timing to introduce Purpur, a new sex & relationships app that helped people comfortably discuss important, but sensitive questions, couldn’t be better.

What is Purpur

Purpur is a therapy app that helps to improve relationships through conversations. We help people to discuss challenging topics and be in sync. Our concept is somewhat similar to the “We are not totally strangers“ card game with some distinct differences:

  • Purpur is online, so you can play even if your partner is far away;
  • We raise important sex & relationships questions that you always wanted to ask, but were afraid to;
  • Purpur grows together with the players: we constantly add new topics and questions for discussion

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The questions are created by the team of certified psychotherapists and make it more comfortable for partners to discuss sex and relationships without any stigma. We cover a lot of topics connected with sexual life, but we believe that relationhips is much more than that. At Purpur, you can find questions about family planning, budgeting, home chores, and so on. For example: What does an open relationship mean to you? Is it more about sex or intimacy?


Currently a Purpur user can choose between three different modes:

  • Play to answer random questions;

  • Peep, a Reddit-like platform to share experience anonymously;

  • Discussion Passes for a deep dive into the issues of money, abortions, sex drivers, and other aspects of relationships.


We’ll be soon adding a new Pass on sex in long-term relationships and we are planning to add new Passes on sensitive topics every month.


Moreover, with more players joining Purpur, we’d like to spice up the user experience and offer an opportunity to play with a random person online. At Purpur App, there are no user profiles with personal data, and all communication is anonymous. The idea is to help people better understand themselves through sharing stories and experiences and developing communication skills.

Testing concepts

At the beginning, Elena and I wanted to make a sex product that would have some positive, playful, and delicate associations. We found our inspiration in Hims whose ads were all over New York City’s metro, with their amusing cacti visuals. This was the approach to a sex product that totally matched our vibe. So we started looking for references and tried to synthesize our own style.


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In the beginning of 2020, just before Covid-19 came, we quit our jobs to dedicate all the time to Purpur. We had around $7,000 to fund the business venture and lots of energy and inspiration to see it through. Purpur’s first product became a lubricant. Our main inputs were:


  • creating and patenting the formula;
  • manufacturing;
  • launching a website as a major sales platform.**
    **

We spent practically $0 on marketing. To avoid extra expenses, Elena and I created all the promo content and wrote hundreds of emails to establish a community of loyal people with similar values.

Then, in the midst of the pandemic, we experimented and made 1,000 candles that smelled like the best destinations for sex adventures such as a rooftop, a leather salon of a convertible in the south of Italy, or a cinema back row, which became unavailable in the times of lockdown.


Our community grew, and more and more people eagerly shared their intimate stories and experiences among themselves. It seemed like the public discussions and commenting brought comfort to those who were afraid of an open dialogue with their partner, a dialogue that would enable them to learn more about each other.


These stories inspired us to create various card sets with questions to improve communication and bonds among partners and different tasks to add a spark into their sex lives and relationships.


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Attracting First Investments

The idea with card games was a success. There was plenty of positive feedback from the Purpur customers, so we set ourselves a goal of reaching a larger audience from around the world. In order to achieve this goal, we had to go digital and launch an app. This idea required investments.


Our first step was to write to all our friends and acquaintances, as well as our friends’ friends and acquaintances who might have even the slightest interest in startups and could invest as business angels. I personally sent dozens of super detailed emails and messages, but the results were lackluster.


Step two was to get into different pitching communities. There’s always a syndicate of business angels, who organize business meetings with startups and make subsequent investments. Still no success.


Finally, I decided that we have to get investment by any means necessary and just googled different top managers and business angels and tried to contact them one by one. We were immensely happy to find the investor who closed the whole round and provided us with $220,000. We immediately discussed the conditions of the deal, but after that there was a “Valley of Death” period and six months of paperwork.

Strategy and Promotion

Purpur is about drive and flexibility. We don’t want to be limited by a framework of a strict strategy, but it doesn’t mean that we move forward blindly. In the beginning of the year, we set a plan with certain milestones, like the number of users we need to attract to make the project self-sufficient and the new products to launch, but there’s no particular way of achieving them, because it all depends on the resources available at the moment.


We plan to use free methods to promote the Purpur App. Instead of spending an enormous budget on buying traffic, we want to grow organically and invest in content and our marketing team.

The first platform we used to introduce the Purpur App was Product Hunt.

1. First users came from Product Hunt

It was the first and for some time the only listing Purpur applied to and we managed to get into the top 3 products of the day on our first try. We carefully prepared for the launching and read up on the experience of different startups.


There were two popular options:

  1. Engaging with popular hunters who have their own large audiences.

    + The arrangement used to be the following: a hunter launched a new product, their subscribers got notification pushes, went to ProductHunt, installed the app, and voted.

    - However, this algorithm no longer works.


Moreover, we were not familiar with any hunters, so it didn’t seem a good idea to contact a random hunter and entrust the important launch to them.


  1. Launching the Purpur App ourselves. There were many startupers who said that if the product is great, it doesn’t need extra promotion to be noticed.


When preparing for the launch, we used Twitter to tag hunters with more or less large audiences both at Product Hunt and on Twitter. We expected such to-the-point notifications to help attract more people who would at least see our product announcement.


We had all the necessary materials, prepared the screenshots, and pushed the launch button at 00:00 Pacific Standard Time, so that we had 24 hours to gather votes. Shortly after the launch, we wrote a tweet and mentioned Ryan Hoover, the founder of Product Hunt. He tested Purpur and left a nice comment**.**

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As a result, Purpur got into Top 3 Products of the Day. Product Hunt brought us 800 users with 20% retention. I think it was a great result!

2. Instagram community and juicy content

Our social media content strategy is simple: get tips and hints from the experts (we call them sexperts) and mix them up with personal stories. We collect a lot of user-generated content through IG polls and Q&As, then edit it nicely and make beautiful posts. Basically, we’re like Reddit if someone picks the best posts for you, fixes the spelling, and visualizes this content with the help of great designers.


The creation of fun memes is a collaborative effort of all our team members. Someone sends a joke, another person makes a Purpur version of it, and SMM hits the “Post” button. Our strategy is to respond to any sex- and relationship-related news, be it Prince William #princeofpegging or Kim Cattrall’s birthday.

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It’s not easy to find a responsible, energetic, and inquisitive SMM manager with a great taste and a good sense of humor, so we approached this task very thoughtfully.


We listed the job opening first at Indeed, and then at Girlboss. Girlboss is a great community. It lessens the quantity of responses, but they are of a much better quality. All in all, we held about 20 interviews and we were absolutely in love with how open-minded the candidates were. For example, оnе candidate told us from the start that she was asexual and could look at things from an absolutely different angle.

3. Partnerships and collaborations

We love collaborations! We have this idea to team up with other companies and create Discussion Passes to help partners talk about contentious things and prevent fights. It’s a great way to show how closely sex and relationships are tied to such everyday things as money, living together, careeer, and so on.


At the moment, we are super excited about partnering with different budgeting apps like Zeta, Cash App, Splitwise to observe different approaches to sharing expenses, joint budgets and personal money, savings, and acquiring common property.


As you can see, the topic of sex and relationships is much deeper and more complicated than simply going to bed together, and it has more to do with communication than with physical activity.


So, if you want your brand to collaborate with Purpur and find alternative ways of engaging with the audiences, please, don’t hesitate to write to us at [email protected] or in our Instagram DM and we’ll set up a call :)

4. A very troublesome Facebook

In the future, we want to grow organically, without paid traffic, but it’s nice to have a small audience at the start. So we tried to set up a Facebook AD account to promote the App.


If somebody asked me what is the one thing I would have changed, it would certainly be hiring a Facebook AD specialist right from the start. It’s been more than two months since we first tried to run a promo, but our AD account got blocked for whatever reason. Still figuring it out.

5. PR

At the beginning we pitched media on our own, but recently we hired PR professionals to run the operations. At some point, if you want to grow, you need to delegate.


We’ve recorded a podcast with a sex therapist, published an interview about ways spouses can spice up their relationships after years being together, and we apply to different events as speakers. We are excited about attracting more and more people to play Purpur. I’m sure, one day Kim Kardashian will also install our app!

6. Wild posting

This fall we’re planning to do a wild posting in New York, LA or whatever locations we have the money for :) We want it to be fun and catchy. For the first campaign, we want to highlight the living together issues and the importance of mutual respect for each other's habits. Purpur is there for you to help establish a connection and communicate better.

Design

Design is responsible for half of the product’s success. The choice of colors, fonts and visuals and the app’s overall usability create a dialogue among users. Purpur addresses some rather serious and sometimes unpleasant questions such as breakups and abortions, so we wanted the process of discussing them to be as fun as possible. Our goal was to make the users feel that they are going to play and get closer with their partners, without this ‘we need to talk’ cloud hanging over them.


When modeling various options of interaction with the users, we decided there would be an anonymous online chat without any personal profiles. Instead of real photos, our artists introduced a set of avatars for chatting. These animated characters inhabit the Purpur universe. They are absolutely agender, without age, without any identification. They are progenitors in the game.


We’ve come up with our own creatures, mixing the features of existing animals and fantastic beasts.

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The symbol of Purpur is Cunilon. We think it’s super sexy because it has this curvy tongue. A tongue is a symbole of both sex and communication, and it’s in the Purpur’s DNA, which is why this design won our hearts. We chose the name for our anteater together with our insta community through voting.


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Conclusion

These days, we are working on creating high quality expert content and promoting the culture of open communication to improve relationships between partners. Our business plans include an expansion on the US market and raising a Seed round in the near future. Follow us on Instagram: purpur_xoxo, download Purpur App from the App Store, and feel free to write to us, we’d love to talk!

Anfisa Savchenko HackerNoon profile picture
by Anfisa Savchenko @purpur.Hustler, reels diva, CPO and co-founder of Purpur, a sex & relationships app to build deep & transparent relationships.
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