Sex Tech: The Next Big Frontier for Female Entrepreneurs – with Andrea Barrica

Andrea Barrica is founder and CEO of O. School, a virtual classroom that provides shame-free, troll-free sexual education for women in the hope of changing the way we talk about female pleasure and female bodies, both online and offline. Before launching O. School, Andrea was a venture partner, an entrepreneur in residence, and startup coach at Silicon Valley Accelerator and Seed Fund 500 Startups. She was the co-founder of inDinero, where she led the team to its first $3 million in annual recurring revenue and sales, and she generated $1 million in sales personally in less than a year. In this episode, Andrea and I chat about how she became a sex tech founder, why she built O. School for underrepresented communities, how women are making sex tech the next big frontier for growth, and why sexual pleasure is foundational to wellness.

Entrepreneurial ventures

Andrea actually started out in another sexy industry: accounting software. She had zero plans to be in business, technology, or entrepreneurship. Her degree was in linguistics, and she had big plans for that until a friend called with bigger dreams than she had for herself. She dropped everything and moved to CA to help build a startup accounting software company for small businesses. There was something about their youth and inexperience in the business world that allowed them to serve their customers in a new, yet terrifying way. As a child in a first generation Filipino-American family, Andrea had zero exposure to entrepreneurship in her culture and her family. She just went to help her friend because loyalty and friendship were ingrained in her. 

Overcoming cultural indoctrination

Being Filipino/Catholic meant zero sex education when Andrea was growing up, other than, “Don’t have sex before marriage.” Her entire experience with sex was based on shame and fear, and when she came out as queer, it took years of healing to be comfortable to who she really is. Since she had lived this transformation, she embraced the cause and wanted to use her power to spread the word, solve existing problems, and make an impact. It took therapy to work on herself and reconcile with her parents, who are now some of O. School’s biggest supporters! Andrea’s courage comes from the movement of people who want the next generations to have more access and a better relationship with sexuality.

A big challenge

Andrea admits that it’s hard to build a business to solve a new problem with a new business model. There is not a playbook. You’re trying to grow something and solve a problem that’s constantly changing. Andrea calls sex tech “a blue ocean,” which means it’s necessary to have the agility to change as you go because there aren’t a lot of competitors. To Andrea, this means that we need different people building tech companies and internet platforms that take into account the problems of marginalized communities.

The next big frontier!

The sexual wellness industry is the next big frontier for growth – thanks to women. Andrea believes this new industry of sexual wellness that’s forming will improve things for everyone. People realize that sexual health is just as important as other areas of health. By 2026, sex tech will be a $22 billion industry, driven by the demographic changes taking place in the world. Big changes have taken place in the ways sexuality is perceived because it’s been an underserved space. Andrea shares how more funding is needed in the field of sexual medications, but easy access won’t solve the problems. What’s needed is a more holistic approach to sexual wellness.

Misconceptions of sex ed 

Statistics show that only half of the students in schools are getting sex education, and about ⅔ of those programs are strictly abstinence-based. The field of sex ed has changed a lot over the past 20-30 years because sex ed is about so much more than disease and contraception. Andrea fears that many people are graduating high school without even the most basic information about their bodies and their sexuality. A big part of her work is helping people “unlearn” what they’ve learned about sex, with one example being the shame we’ve been taught around masturbation.

Common themes and topics at O. School

Andrea deals with many people about genital shame. People feel shamed and weird about their sexual desires. Other common issues include sexless marriages, sexual dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and vaginal dryness. These are all things that people don’t feel comfortable discussing with a doctor or therapist. This is the space where Andrea wants to offer help!

Why we discount pleasure

Most people treat pleasure like it’s something not “respectable” or not as important as problems with fertility or menstruation. People blame themselves if there are pleasure problems, but Andrea wants to make it normal to talk about this sexual topic and more, including the fact that sex isn’t just for having babies, but affects your life, health, and overall wellness. Andrea wants all women to know it’s ok to have pleasure within the kind of sex you want to have.

A culture of sexual respect

With the #MeToo movement, we see that we don’t have a culture of sexual respect in the world. Unfortunately, we don’t teach kids about body autonomy – that each person is in charge of their own body. Andrea wants parents to teach children that they don’t have to let anyone touch them unless they want to be touched, hugged, kissed, etc. Respecting everyone’s body autonomy is a skill set we all need to learn. We teach people to say no, but we need to teach them how to say yes.

What delights you?

Andrea teaches that self-care is connecting with the core inside you and figuring out what it wants. There is pressure for women to be as “hot” as possible, and they don’t really know what they want and don’t want in sex. Andrea advises women to make a list of the things that delight us, both sexual and non-sexual. The key to developing a pleasure practice is to identify what lights you up. Sexuality has a lot of limiting beliefs that keep us from opening up to new possibilities. Women feel constant pressure and are afraid to accept their needs and desires. Most of our judgment comes from within, and not from others. Andrea wants each of us to be an open, non-judgmental friend to ourselves. She says, “You like what you like, so don’t be ashamed of that!” Andrea shares some of her favorite resources, too. Check them out!

Highlights of this episode:

  • 3:04 – What Andrea hadn’t seen in herself
  • 5:51 – How Andrea became a sex tech entrepreneur
  • 7:35 – The online void between Planned Parenthood and PornHub
  • 9:34 – The excitement and determination
  • 14:05 – One of the biggest challenges
  • 16:34 – How women are rebuilding a man’s world
  • 20:57 – The next big frontier for growth
  • 23:20 – Easy access to sex drugs – good or bad?
  • 26:47 – What’s happening in sex ed?
  • 28:59 – How Andrea helps people
  • 31:30 – Common themes at O. School
  • 33:31 – Why pleasure isn’t prioritized
  • 36:34 – Andrea’s ideal view of pleasure as part of wellness
  • 38:14 – Consent, pleasure, and sexual respect
  • 42:00 – Being more present with our sexuality
  • 45:52 – Advice for alpha females
  • 51:43 – Favorite resources
  • 53:37 – Fem Five

Resources mentioned:

The Fem Five:

1. Favorite book to recommend for women?

  • The Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer, and Visionary by Angeles Arrien

2. Favorite self-care hack?

  • “Paying attention to my pleasure practice.”

3. Best piece of advice and who gave it to you?

  • From a mentor: “Pay attention to your wounds and heal them.”

4. Female CEO or thought leader you’re into right now?

5. One piece of advice you’d give your five years younger self?

  • “Don’t mistake a clear view for a short distance.”

Last Time on The NextFem Podcast

Creating a Diverse Workforce Where Women Thrive – with Sandra Rivera

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