The Talk is an online platform made specifically for teens to learn about sex in a positive, balanced, and accurate approach, that takes into account the discomfort around the topic. It was created during a Startup Weekend with Aude Boos, Kaitlin Kallini, Seonghoon Park, Geronimo Ramos, and Molly Reddy, and won second place.
In 2016, only 13 states required sex education to be medically accurate. Not even half mandate that sex education exist. Any yet, we assume teens will somehow learn what they need as they enter adulthood.
Instead, teens are left feeling:
1 in 3 women will experience sexual violence in her lifetime.
So where do teens get their information?
Much of the weight of sexual education has fallen on the shoulders of parents - making most teens wholly uncomfortable.
While it's recommended doctors talk confidentially with teens, on average these conversation last 36 seconds.
Over 55% of teens admit to using the internet to find information for themselves or friends. The question is which sites?
All of this is just to get to the basics of what is sex, how does it work, and how do I protect myself? Our sex education policies are unprepared for a changing Generation Z that is asking tougher questions -- only 48% of Gen Z identify as exclusively heterosexual, compared to 65% among millennials, and we're seeing a growing trend of transgender, fluid and non-gendered students.
Despite all this, our sex education is still missing a critical piece: Healthy Relationships. Whether adults want to admit it or not to teens, our relationships are based on a healthy conversation with our partners not only about safety, but enjoyment. If teens never see this happening - and instead only see media representations lacking this - our sexually violent society will only continue.
Pleasure is off limits
When interviewing college students about their experience with sex ed, we met a 26 year old grad student we'll call Matt. Matt was happy to talk to us about all he had learned, about how his relationship has grown and developed through open conversation about safety and being ready.
Then we asked if he and his partner ever talk about pleasure, and Matt proceeded to hide his head in his T-shirt out of embarrassment.
Enter The Talk. A website for students to get information about sex that is relatable, accurate and judgement free.
The Talk offers teens a safe and trustworthy place to get all their questions answered without fear of what the 'accidental click'. And it does it in a language that they can relate to. Instead of dry medical speak, The Talk acknowledges where they're at, that this might be scary, and aims to alleviate fears.
Using playful gifs and emojis, and language to match, the site helps students feel normal and comfortable while learning what it means to be an adult.
Imagine, a site for teens that gives them accurate information, in ways that acknowledge them and in language they can understand.
The Business Model
We love feel good ideas, but how do you fund it? Hidden in our problem is a huge financial opportunity. As brands struggle to find ways to reach Generation Z, sponsored content that provides actual value to them becomes an attractive and moral advertising strategy.
With everything from deodorant and razors to period care and condoms, teens are entering a new market with new products. Providing not only the correct information, but access to the products they'll need is a huge value to companies.
An editorial board that controls content, verifies its accuracy, and lastly finds advertisers who see the benefit in helping to educate teens is our recipe for sustainable profits and continued education.