While a lot of discussion of sex-ed focuses – as it should! – on how these discussions take place with children as part of their overall education, there’s no limit on the age at which you might have questions about sex, relationships, or the other trickier aspects of life.
OkaySo was started by two sex educators spurred on by the realization that Google is woefully inadequate when it comes to answering personal questions people may have about sex or relationships, Elise Schuster, co-founder of the company, told SEXTECHGUIDE.
“Our experts have a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. Some are health educators, researchers, sex workers, and teachers. Others are smart folks who have been there and want to share their experiences. Every expert is vetted by staff to make sure you’re talking to people who want to help you get the support you need,” Schuster said.
For now, it’s only available to download for users in the US and Canada – and is limited to Apple devices. There’s no work underway on an Android version just yet, but it is on the list of things to do in the future, Schuster confirmed.
OkaySo, where does the data go?
Given the sensitive nature of the questions that the platform is designed to accommodate – and the endless privacy violations in headlines from companies such as Facebook – people could be a bit more reluctant to share information like this with virtual strangers, but Schuster re-assures users that it’ll never be sold or shared.
“Users provide us with some basic demographic information and contact information in case we need to reach them. That information is stored on secure servers that only we have access to. We will never sell or in any way share identifiable user data. A user’s account is entirely private. They pick their username and they pick an avatar (no photos). Experts only see their avatar and username, they don’t see any other information about them and only the experts can see their questions.”
That position does leave question marks of the organization’s future funding options – right now, it’s a bootstrapped app funded by a grant from the HHS Office of Adolescent Health, but the aim is to become a platform for colleges and other organizations. In that scenario, students/staff/clients of the organization would then have direct access to OkaySo staff and the support they offer.
Where many apps offer support services by putting them in contact with other users or a set of chatbot-based activities, OkaySo has a huge advantage by having a trained human being with relevant knowledge responding to every question. In future, it could be expanded to include topics such as mental health, too.
How scaleable that approach will prove to be is a challenge that the company will have to face if it achieves its desired success – particularly if it wants to grow beyond the borders of the US and Canada.