As you’re queuing up your Spotify playlists for Valentine’s Day (Love, Sex, & Water or The Sweet Suite?), finalizing plans with a special someone, or celebrating singlehood like me, Kubo’s bringing you a pre-Valentine’s Day exclusive with the 28-year-old Filipina founder of O.school, Andrea Barrica.
Andrea Barrica, the Filipina founder of O.school
O.school as in…orgasm? Maybe. The name of Barrica’s company is open to interpretation. She studied Linguistics at UC Berkeley and spent most of her childhood obsessed with language and social justice–she’s quite savvy when it comes to the science and art of communication.
Barrica explains, “I didn’t call [my company] ‘Orgasm School.’ People have grown up feeling ashamed about sex, so not everyone has the ease of saying something like the word ‘orgasm.’ Saying some of these words is hard for a lot of people.”
Founded in 2017, O.school helps people build sexual confidence through medically-accurate videos, articles, and live streams. Think sex-ed online, in a safe and educational way.
On the website, you’ll find Pleasure Professionals, who include gynecologists, dating coaches, sex educators, and therapists. They cover a wide range of topics including health, consent, gender, sexuality, dating, sex after trauma, sex and disability, and more. Viewers can join free live stream sessions and ask questions anonymously.
O.school is one of the only companies that has fundraised in the sex tech space. Considered a “godmother” of sex tech, Barrica is breaking down barriers. She is:
- A woman fundraising millions of dollars for a sex tech company
- A woman of color fundraising millions of dollars for a sex tech company
- A queer woman of color fundraising millions of dollars for a sex tech company
Keep reading to hear her experiences and insights on family, tech, and sex.
On her first company, inDinero, and her life coach:
Barrica: I had zero plans to be in tech and finance. I graduated from Berkeley and got a call from my freshman roommate, Jessica Mah, and she told me she just got into YC (Y Combinator). I had never been in tech before. She told me, “Let’s start this company together.” At age 20, she was closing a million dollars for an accounting software company.
I really just wanted to help my friend, so I started building accounting software. I was 20 at the time. I learned a ton and generated a million dollars in sales. This experience gave me foundational skills, a network, and street cred.
I had also moved in with my partner and […] began to work with a life coach. A lot of the problems that were holding me back were based on my relationships with my family and my sexuality.
On 500 Startups and O.school’s formation:
Barrica: [After building accounting software at inDinero] I got tapped to be a venture partner and entrepreneur-in-residence at 500 Startups. I jumped into a two-year venture capital crash course and I was also actively working through my personal issues. I started to invest and had a broader view of business. That’s where the idea for O.school started to bloom.
“I noticed that there was literally nothing between Planned Parenthood and Pornhub…there’s a 100 billion dollar market that no one’s looking at.”
I had a well-paying job at 500 Startups and I was traveling internationally. I had the best job in the world! But I knew I had to start O.school because none of that mattered and I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. [O.school] is my calling. Someone could offer me a million dollars, but O.school aligns with why I’m here, even at the cost of personal wealth.
Barrica walking through the anatomy of a clitoris
Barrica: My parents are my best friends and supporters, but they had also planted all this trauma about sex inside of me.
“Through therapy, I discovered that the real healing I wanted to create is that sex isn’t just about sex. It’s about all the things that are affected by our sexuality. I needed O.school when I was 15, and I’m also building O.school for the 15-year-old versions of my parents. I’m trying to stop cycles of trauma and abuse.”
My parents didn’t want children so fast, but they didn’t know about birth control. I’ve had healing discussions with my parents and they’ve expressed that they just didn’t know anything about sex. But we can’t penalize people for not knowing about sex. This informs a lot of the tone I take with O.school…this is the cause I want to spend the next couple decades working on.
On sex and agency:
Barrica: Sex is not just about sex. Sex is about agency. Who gets to be in charge of what happens to our bodies?
“When someone doesn’t feel agency, that affects how they ask for other things in their life that they really want.”
On the NowThis video:
Barrica: The NowThis video first hit the Philippines and it caused waves of eyebrow-raising. My dad’s barkada group in the Philippines saw the video and messaged my parents, asking them, “Do you know that your daughter is on the internet talking about sex?” My dad was the one who said, “We support her. This is amazing.” My parents are my shield of armor. I feel this sense of power by being connected with my family because I feel openness to express my sexuality.
I can take all the hate on the internet, but my parents know me. So bring it on.
On working with smart people:
Barrica: You gotta find the smartest people you know. Team is everything. Go find the smartest possible people and work for them. Be patient. Learn a lot.
“There’s no such thing as an overnight success. I invested at least 6-7 years [of preparation] before I was ready. My network had to be there. People had to trust me to build [O.school]. As people of color, we don’t have safety nets or rich relatives who will bail us out, so I’ve always had a side hustle.”
Barrica: Startups are the hardest, most painful thing. I was making 20k for two years. While my friends were in their early 20’s and were having gap years and having fun, I was pulling my hair building accounting software. That was a choice I made.
It’s a great litmus test…if you have a 9-5, but you’re mocking up stuff [for your company] over the weekend, and you live and breathe this, your side hustle just starts to win. That’s how I feel about O.school… there’s a problem out in the world and you can’t face the world without being able to work on it.
On sharing ideas:
Barrica: I knew I was making progress with O.school because people began to share their advice with me. But they were also beating up my idea. I wasn’t secretive about [O.school]. When I have an idea, I tell everyone. You want people to beat up your idea. Grow your idea. Iterate your idea.
I’m inspired by Barrica, not just because she is a queer Filipina business leader, but for her “why” behind starting O.school. It’s refreshing and empowering to see someone from our community normalizing conversations about taboo topics. I hope you’ll take some of that empowerment with you this Valentine’s Day.
Mallory is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Kubo. Follow her on Twitter.