As women’s needs and the growing business behind them takes center stage, New York OBGYN and surgeon Dr. Alyssa Dweck and marketing strategist, business builder, and author Rachel Braun Scherl are launching a podcast this April that explores the intersection of women’s health and the groundbreaking startups and businesses in the female wellness sphere called Business of the V.
What motivated you to do this podcast?
Rachel: During quarantine, I started a zoom series to fill the void left by eliminating all in-person meetings and conferences to keep important conversations in the forefront. Over the first few months, I completed 120 interviews with FemTech, SexTech and women’s health leaders. I really loved learning from, listening to and speaking with the changemakers in the space. I was thinking about what to do with the content or how to keep the momentum going.
Alyssa: Around that same time, I approached Rachel to consider a podcast. We had collaborated on a number or programs as our paths crossed many, many times at speaker engagements; the most notable being to a room full of dudes interested in pantyliners. We have always had a very natural rapport and an easy conversational style. We both felt there was an opportunity and need to integrate what is happening in my office and other clinical settings around patients’ questions, concerns and unmet needs integrated with the companies trying to find solutions. And so, Business of the V was born!!
Can you tell us a little more about your journey into the FemTech space?
Rachel: I have always worked in businesses that affected women from the tops of their heads to the tips of their toes. About 13 years ago, a venture capitalist showed a business plan to me and my long-time business partner which was a product that improved arousal, desire and satisfaction. In short order, we raised venture capital money and created a company around that product. The rest is history.
Alyssa: I live and love the clinical world of gynecology. My entrepreneurial spirit emerged a few years back when I started the journey to bring a now patented and novel menopause product to market. I found myself immersed in brand, product and strategy courses at NYU’s Stern School of Business, and now I’m hooked. My courses were with an incredibly motivational and influential professor Scott Galloway at NYU Stern. I had time during the pandemic to dive in and became truly engaged. My own personal product is in progress. Have been working on it for years…. it’s a new category device for menopausal hot flashes, now patented…. a long journey indeed. Rachel lives and breathes this fascinating world… and we are always learning from one another. We make a good team.
So, what is the podcast about?
Rachel: Thankfully over the past few years and certainly during COVID, there is a great deal more discussion on all aspects of sexual, reproductive and gynecological health. Many experts are leading podcasts about the “how–to” of sexual health – what products to buy, how to learn specific sexual techniques, how to create strong relationships, learning to self-pleasure, evaluating products. We thought there was a white space for our combined perspectives.
Alyssa: Ultimately, we hope to marry the unmet needs in gynecology that I hear from patients every day with the products and services being developed to provide solutions for those needs. We bring a unique, serious and real-world boots on the ground clinical perspective and strategic business thinking view to provide informative, unapologetic, conversational and highly informative content.
Why do you think there is such a big gap in people accessing sexual wellness healthcare?
Rachel: I think we are seeing the confluence of a number of factors that have resulted in a broad societal discomfort around topics of health and wellness: lack of or quality of sex education in schools, ubiquity of porn that is replacing sex education, different cultural backgrounds, lack of preparedness that most parents feel and the disinterest most children communicate when they think their parents might start a conversation.
Alyssa: First, access to accurate and easily digested clinical information is difficult to find and tease out from the many myths, misinformation and overwhelming amount of noise online. Second, these are still uncomfortable topics for so many people. We speak directly, factually and without hesitation. We speak vagina.
How do you feel we can overcome this gap?
Rachel: We have seen the positive impact of frequent, direct, factual and educational discussions about these important topics. We have to say these words and discuss these concepts frequently enough that we take the discomfort or stigma out of them for people.
Alyssa: Our varied experiences allow us to identify needs and solutions for women and business. We will overcome this information gap through investigation, science, real-world experience and direct conversation.
Why do you think people are more confident to speak about sexual wellness in recent years?
We have more entrepreneurs, more investors, more creative sources of capital, more companies, more social media conversations. This category is a great example of the concept that “a rising tide raises all boats.” Specifically, in COVID, we have seen increasing conversation around the uniqueness and complexity of women’s health. Business people, medical practitioners, investors, policy folks are speaking about women’s health in 3 ways: conditions that affect women only (think ovarian or uterine cancer), affect women differentially (think COVID, heart disease) and those that affect women primary (think breast cancer).
Sexual health and general health go hand in hand. We are keenly aware of the need to foster our general health and well-being. And that is becoming a much more frequent foundation in the narrative.
A final word?
As they say, if you build it, they will come. The response that we have gotten to the launch announcement from companies, entrepreneurs, sponsors and investors haves been really exciting. We are building this incredibly informative, interesting and exciting conversation into a tower of knowledge that we believe will benefit the worlds of gynecology, sexuality, reproduction and the many businesses that are providing life-changing solutions.