Dipsea raises $5.5M for short-form, sexy audio stories

A new wave of female-led businesses wants to help women get off.

Dipsea, an app-based platform for short-form erotic audio stories, is the latest to grab funding from venture capital investors. The female-founded, San Francisco-headquartered startup, which officially launched in December, has raised $5.5 million in a round led by Bedrock Capital and Thrive Capital. The funding comes amid a notable explosion in interest and investment in audio content consumption and creation, as well as an uptick in AirPod sales, easily removable wireless earbuds that encourage listeners to enjoy snackable audio like Dipsea’s erotica.

In addition to Dipsea’s seed financing, podcasting platform WaitWhat secured a $4.3 million round this month. Days earlier, Himalaya nabbed $100 million to scale its podcast distribution tool and a pair of podcast startups, Gimlet and Anchor, sold to Spotify in a nine-figure deal.

Meanwhile, as the audio content space booms, more attention is being paid to female entrepreneurs eyeing venture capital. Enter Dipsea, whose founders say the business captures the zeitgeist of female empowerment.

Dipsea’s subscription-based app, available for $8.99 per month or $48 per year, offers short audio stories meant to turn women on. The app’s library, which is poised to expand with the new cash, includes narrative sexy stories and non-narrative guided audio pieces. The stories are designed to be listened to at any time, with the company’s examples including solo in bed, while getting ready for a date or to help turn off boss brain on the way home from work. The subscription business model made me wince at first, but auditory erotica doesn’t exactly lend itself to an advertising business model, after all, and once I listened to a few of Dipsea’s short stories, I understood that the service is something many women would pay for.  

Since the onset of internet porn, there’s been a gaping hole in content crafted specifically for women. Most women use “mental framing” to get turned on, meaning they imagine scenarios, often with detailed story-lines and characters to stimulate themselves, per a study by OMGYes and The Kinsey Institute. Dipsea’s sensorial audio storytelling sets the mood and sparks the listener’s imagination.

“Audio is amazing because it’s imaginative; it requires you to paint a picture in your brain that’s very stimulating and it’s super intimate and very personal,” Dipsea co-founder and chief executive officer Gina Gutierrez told TechCrunch.

The brand and design strategist started Dipsea alongside chief technical officer Faye Keegan, a former product manager at Neighborly. Gutierrez said she came up with the idea while meditating with Headspace, a wellness app.

The founders have prioritized diversity of perspective, working with freelance writers of different backgrounds on various episodes, as well as consensuality, ensuring a form of verbal consent is worked into storylines. They recently hired their first staff writer. 

“To me the future of entertainment is sensory,” Gutierrez said. “This felt like it could be a medium for women that hadn’t been harnessed or attempted before.”