Julie is co-founder and CEO of femtasy, a streaming platform for erotic and sensual audio stories. She started her company at the age of 23 after leaving a corporate job at Xing. The platform reached 1M plays 4 months after launch.

On product and listening to your users.
We started our company out of a comprehensive study to understand the sexuality of 1500 women. We used waterfall models to identify this new approach to erotica. We were super user-centric: before launch, we had 400 women pretty much building the product with us. They were giving us feedback on the audio, the platform, the design, everything. We launched and reached one million plays in 4 months. And then basically stopped asking. In a way, I think we felt we had understood it. We started by being super humble and grew somewhat proud about all the knowledge we had gathered. It was subconscious, but what's important is that we stopped asking our users. We built features, like these very complex content filtering methods, assuming they were just what our users needed. When we started asking again, nine months later, we realized: it wasn't the best decision.

On her current setup for feedback.
Now, we formed a user research panel of almost 2000 subscribers. We survey from this group almost every single day. We try not to no longer make decisions without involving our members. We test everything from marketing ideas to new features, voices, and writers. This in addition to the voting systems we have on the platform and the daily interactions on private Facebook groups. I personally interact with our customers by email and comments and check our NPS multiple times a day.

On marketing, and lockdown consequences.
We started off with mostly influencer campaigns and PR. As we grow, our challenge is in finding the right marketing balance with more scalable channels we have. It's an emerging product category and making women aware of it is a challenge per se. Usually, our peak times are after 8PMs or on Sundays. In the first week after the lockdown, there was a second peak time between 12.30 and 2.00 PM on weekdays: lunch break! People were spending their home office lunchtime much differently! We saw an 89% usage uplift at that time.

On hard things defining her as a founder.
When our first employee left the company. We were a team of five and he was the only tech person. We are half content production house, half tech startup and we were lost. We did not have to knowledge on leading the developers in the agency we were using. This made me realize how I needed to start focusing more on the individuals in my team and their roles, and not only on my personal goal in building the product. It defined me in a way that it has taught me to celebrate the small wins more and understand others' personal growth needs.

On her setup for balance.
I don't stick to routines dogmatically, yet. For now, they are more of an emergency thing. My only habit is practicing journaling several times per week. Β When I am stressed out I also do something I call the "Shit List". I take a pen and jot down every single thing that annoys me or is a source of anxiety. Then I take an hour off to work through this list to find solutions. It helps me realize how much of my stress comes from small things that pile up. I solve, delegate, or just delete these. It's equally about actioning them as much as throwing them out of my mind. Once done, I feel ready to tackle the truly important problems. Another thing that really helps me is exchanging with founders that have the same issues of mine: things always look so much shinier from the outside.

On maintaining focus.
No notifications. At all. Everything on silent. My mindset is one of being present in the moment. No multitasking. Focus remains a challenge: our team is still 25 people and I am very much operationally involved beyond strategy and leadership. I tried to follow an attitude of importance ahead of urgency. By writing everything down, I can distinguish between the two better.

On managing anxiety and her inner critic voice.
This is a tough one for me. It's a rather loud voice, and with me very often. On the one hand, it's draining energy out of me, but on the other hand, I am also realizing how it pushes me forward. I have a lot of built-in resistance, but when I really get caught by stress, I try to reset by changing up my routine to wake up very early, around 5.30 AM. I used to start the day by reading the news while still in bed, but I realized it works much better for me to take time to journal and get ready. Around a year ago, my partner and I started to talk with a coach, proactively. We are both, co-founders and a couple, and it's helping us to work better as a team.

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