Entrepreneurs Melisa “Meli” Chamorro and Elayne Safir came up with the idea for Do You, their text-based, interactive erotica app, over drinks one night in the summer of 2018. Their thinking was simple: If the brain is truly a woman’s largest sex organ, then why aren’t there more sexual wellness products for women that engage the mind?
“The next day, we called each other, and we were like, ’I’m a little hungover, but I still think the idea is great,'” Chamorro tells NewNowNext. “We just went a full hour with it and started to look through the research.”
The app development process evolved naturally from there. Chamorro, an accomplished creative director and advertising professional, handled the visuals; Safir, a product design specialist with more than 20 years of experience, brought “a lot of the technical thoughts and considerations to the app design itself.” The pair secured funding from investors and hired a small, diverse team of writers to craft queer-inclusive, choose-your-own-adventure sext-capades for Do You.
Chamorro and Safir don’t consider themselves business owners in the porn industry; instead, they view Do You as tool for solo sexual exploration and general wellness.
“As a lesbian, I know that there’s no content that’s really targeted not just to women, but also to the LGBT community that feels really authentic in the space like this,” Chamorro says. “We were really excited about creating a female-first, inclusive app that lets people explore their sexuality.”
Do You’s interface simulates sexting between the user and a fictional person. Upon opening the app, users can choose a gender to play as (currently, the only option is “female,” although Chamorro and Safir plan to add “male” and “nonbinary” choices later this year); a gender to chat with (“female,” “male,” or “nonbinary”); and a scenario to “play” through, including dalliances with a sexy stranger, an ex-lover, or a sci-fi/fantasy character. From there, users select a specific storyline; one of three tones (“romantic,” “racy,” or “dirty”); and where the convo starts (“flirting,” “foreplay,” or “fireworks”).
There are no images involved in the text exchanges on the app, which was completely intentional. “We’re not telling you, ’This is what a sexy person looks like,'” Chamorro says. “It’s what you think is sexy.”
The user experience is designed to be customizable and highly secure—two priorities Chamorro and Safir emphasized in their development process. Do You is only available as a mobile app, Safir explains, and “only you have access to it.”
“We don’t collect any information about you—all the payments, you could choose to subscribe, all that is through the app store,” she says. “We don’t see your user data. We just ask you to verify that you are over 18, which is the app store requirement, but that’s it.”
Chamorro and Safir soft-launched the app as a beta product in August 2019 and asked 70 of their friends to try it. What happened next surprised them: From those 70 initial invites, Do You’s user base grew organically into the thousands, with strangers reaching out to Chamorro and Safir for the password to the private beta. “That was when we knew we were onto something,” Safir says.
Do You went public in the Apple app store on January 1, 2020. With the coronavirus pandemic forcing Americans to stay home and minimize physical contact with others, the app—which is free with optional in-app purchases—has only grown more popular. “We’re seeing basically a thousand new users every week,” Safir says. “People are signing up all over the world.”
New York City’s Department of Health said it best: Right now, you are your safest sex partner.
“[The app] could be a good tool during this time when everyone is stuck at home, where we can still feel sexy—you can still enjoy yourself, you can discover new turn-ons, you can play with someone of the same sex, if that’s something that you’ve been thinking about for a while,” Chamorro adds. “You could do it in a really safe way. Not just mentally safe, but also physically safe with everything that’s going on.”
Do You is available for Apple devices. An Android version will be available later this year.