If you’ve ever had women and health-centric questions but weren’t sure who to bring them to, Tess Brooks started an online platform for women to share their best tips and advice. With its information all backed by professionals in health, research, and sex, Confi provides the answers that many young women have always been looking for.
For readers who may not know, what is Confi and why is it awesome?
Tess Brooks: Confi is an online platform for young women seeking advice on sensitive health topics (OB/GYN, sexual health, relationships, mental health). We create relatable, infographic content based on what real women want to know, and have doctors validate everything. Our tagline is “Crowdsourcing big sister advice” and we pull from the survey results, research studies, doctor interviews, and sex educator books, to synthesize content that resonates with people and answers their questions in a holistic way.
Most young women currently turn to online forums for women’s health and sexual health information, but don’t know what they can trust. We are a free, discreet resource on important health topics that impact everyone and their relationships, but can be uncomfortable to talk about.
In Confi’s mission statement, it’s noted that Confi is for people of all sexualities and gender identities. How does your content and staff work to achieve that accessibility and inclusion?
TB: It is very important to us to create inclusive content, and we work to attract diverse participants in our focus groups and surveys (which drive content prioritization), and actively seek feedback on our content. We are always asking ourselves if our current draft answers the questions our whole user-base has.
For example, when writing our article on STDs, we wanted to include which may be more or less common for lesbian or bisexual women, or we are also working on an article to spread awareness about the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation. Being inclusive and accessible is embedded in our content generation and editing process. We have also brought in expert advisors whose research and professional experience is more focused around the LGBTQ community.
Is there something specific that sparked your interest in entrepreneurship and women empowerment?
TB: Since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated by the power of entrepreneurs to create something totally new from scratch and disrupt the norm, especially to positively impact their communities. Yet I did not expect to start a business while at business school, largely because I did not feel ready. The exposure to various founders and business leaders in class and at events here has shown me that no one ever feels ready, and business school has helped me build my confidence as a leader.
Women’s empowerment has always been a main passion of mine, but I did not know how it could directly fit into my career. My mom is a partner at a law firm and my dad was very involved in raising us, so I grew up learning to not be limited by gender norms. They raised my sisters and me to be ambitious and go after big things, and we’re all enthusiastic about seeing more female leaders rising up the ranks.
I love how Confi dives into the intersection of women’s empowerment, healthcare, and education, since health is one of the few areas of life that impacts everyone universally, and increasing access to healthcare and education is one of the most fundamental challenges today.
What are your hopes for your future and the future of Confi?
TB: Our goal is to be the go-to resource globally that women turn to before Google whenever they have a sensitive health question or want to more broadly learn about women’s health. We also want to help change the culture around these health topics to reduce some of the anxiety and insecurity around it. We believe this information should be free for everyone, and we are testing other revenue streams to be self-sustaining, as well as finding new ways to spread the word about Confi to those who need it most.
I believe that Confi’s ability to increase access to information and empower women can impact the root causes of widespread social issues like STDs, unplanned pregnancies, and unhealthy relationships.
What advice would you give for other women who are considering becoming entrepreneurs?
TB: If you have an idea you are passionate about, find a way to start testing it out with real potential users and research what is already out there. It’s low-risk to explore a startup concept, and even if it fails, you will learn a ton in the process. One of the hardest barriers to overcome is just getting started – every startup started from nothing (and often evolves along the way). The world needs more female entrepreneurs!
I grew up wanting to always please others, get the gold star, not screw up, etc. and I think many other women had similar experiences of being pushed more toward seeking affirmation than putting yourself out there. It can be incredibly uncomfortable as a founder to open yourself up to feedback and criticism, and make decisions without having anyone tell you “Good job” along the way. Knowing that this is normal and seeking the right peers and mentors can help.
Can you describe one of your proudest moments since starting this community platform?
TB: I have been extremely proud to see the Confi team grow, especially experiencing the college-aged team members take ownership over driving our mission and bringing new ideas to the table. I have also found it very rewarding when users share how Confi has helped them feel more comfortable or has enabled them to communicate more effectively with their partners.
What has been one of your biggest career challenges, and how did you overcome it?
TB: It is very difficult to figure out what work to do yourself, to delegate to the team, or to contract externally. I naturally try to do everything myself, but that does not work in a startup, and you have to learn to leverage the extremely talented people around you to survive. It’s involved some trial-and-error facilitated by open communication within the team, where I encourage people to speak up about what work they want to do or learn and give frequent feedback.
Do you have any advice for young girls who feel insecure in their bodies?
TB: You are not alone – everyone has insecurities. Confidence and loving yourself are incredibly attractive and are key for having healthy relationships and being happy. As a 26 year old woman, I can share that it never gets completely easy, but valuing yourself and others for more than appearance opens you up to more meaningful connections with people and frees your mind to focus on becoming the type of person you want to be.
If you are feeling down about yourself, talk to a friend or family member about it. I guarantee they can relate, and probably don’t even notice whatever it is physically that you wish you could change.