21 Apr 2016
Confi
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Confi creates credible, fun online content on women's health/sex, plus sexual assault prevention events. Team members: Tess Brooks (MBA 2016), Polina Dekhtyar (MBA 2016), Montita Sowapark, Nyla Fuller

How did the idea for your company come about?

I have always been passionate about gender equality and improving reproductive health (reducing unplanned pregnancies, STIs, unhealthy relationships), but coming into HBS, was not sure what I could personally do to make an impact.

I was inspired to create Confi when a close friend awkwardly told me that sex had been hurting and was embarrassed to talk to her boyfriend or doctor about it. She was even uncomfortable talking to me about it, who is one of her best friends. I wanted to help, but it made me realize that there wasn’t a trusted resource that I could recommend. Everyone has questions and insecurities, and there should be an accessible resource to make it more comfortable to get information on common (but sensitive) health topics.

What does your company do? How is it distinct in its product/service category?

Confi is a free online community focused on providing young women with expert-approved, engaging information about sexual health, OB/GYN questions, and mental health. Users gain access to real-time, user-friendly content in the privacy of their own homes to questions that greatly impact their health and relationships but are uncomfortable to talk about. Our mission is to empower women to be confident in themselves, their bodies, and their relationships. Confi also organizes university sexual assault prevention ideation events (“The Exchange”), starting with Harvard in April 2016 and expanding to other universities this fall. We bring together hundreds of students to engage in open dialogue and brainstorm actionable solutions to reduce sexual assault on campus.

Where do you hope to take it in the future?

Confi’s long-term vision is to expand globally and adapt our health content for different cultures. We are working to be the go-to trusted resource where women turn when they have questions about women’s health or reproductive health (instead of Google search), destigmatizing these topics and helping women feel more confident in the process.

How has your time at HBS influenced your efforts on your company?

The community at HBS has been incredible for starting a business. From the start, I had several main business ideas and e-mailed my section asking for advice– I ended up with 70 coffee chats that week and have been amazed by all of the support this past year (e.g. spending hours helping me learn how to build the website, giving feedback on new features, introducing us to doctor advisors). Our team works out of the I-lab and is in the Rock Accelerator program, and in addition to the great workshops/programming, being surrounded by other student entrepreneurs to learn from who are facing similar challenges really accelerates getting off the ground. Class case studies also often directly apply to Confi (e.g. hiring, go-to-market strategy, design thinking), and professors have been key mentors.

Any advice you’d offer to other young entrepreneurs?

One of the most difficult parts is going from an idea to actually doing. It can be easy to put yourself into a box, like: I’m a “business person,” not a “design person” or not a “technical person,” especially since many of us grew up trying to be the best at what we do. One of the most rewarding parts of starting a business is discovering that you can still learn new things and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Our team figured out how to build our online platform ourselves, design infographics, go out and sell our events, etc. and we now know what to look for if we hire specialists in the future, plus learned a ton about our customer through the process. Having the confidence to try it yourself first (while also asking peers/mentors for help), also speeds up getting your product in front of customers.

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