Badge of Honor
This is a weird place to start a blog. I had planned to ease readers into my background and the Nymph app gently before getting into the nitty-gritty. But something happened today that I have GOT to talk about NOW.
I guess I owe you at least a little background.
My name is Liz Bradley, and I am the founder of a company called Nymph LLC. It started when I had a problem with no modern solution. I entered the dating world for the first time at 28, after a 9-year monogamous relationship. I knew I needed to be responsible with my sexual health, and I also knew how forgetful I can be. I wanted a way to track my sexual activity, and something to remind me to get tested frequently. But when I turned to the app store, there was… nothing. The best I could find was to make notes in my period tracking app. This was a poor substitute for what I really wanted. And what about people who don’t menstruate? What do people without period trackers do? Write it down? With a pen?? On paper??? The unfortunate truth is, they probably don’t record it at all. We live in a society with terrible sex education, and with loads of stigma against even discussing STI risks. So many sexually active people find it much easier to ignore the problem than address it head-on. Which, of course, only makes things worse.
So the idea for Nymph was conceived (lol). It would be a calendar-based health tracker, similar to a period tracker, but for ALL sexually-active adults. It would allow you to track anything that could affect your sexual health, and remind you to get tested and take other precautions. In the event of a positive result, it would be easy to see exactly who you need to talk to (Who have you been with since your last test? What kind of contact did you have? Did you use protection?) and then guide you through that conversation without shame or stigma.
The idea has come a long way since then, but that was the seed. I have been slowly plugging away at it for a few years now, but I am no longer content with slowly plugging. Something happened that made me realize that we need Nymph, and we need it NOW:
Suddenly, everyone is talking about masks, social distancing, hand washing - cautionary measures that a person can take to protect themselves and others. Suddenly, the conversation about protection seems a little less weird. A major talking point in our society has become: What is our responsibility to others? How much do we surrender our personal comfort for someone else? How could our actions affect even a stranger? It has become part of the culture war, with one side acting with empathy - willing to sacrifice greatly on the off-chance it will save the life of someone they don’t even know. And the other side, ehem, decidedly not.
I watched with great interest as the vaccine became available, and as one after another of my friends proudly posted photos of themselves with their vaccine card and a bandage on their arm. They wanted the world to know what side they were on. The side of science, empathy and self-responsibility. (The side I’m on, if you couldn’t guess.)
One of my big goals for Nymph has been to have badges on dating apps. Just like you can show your support of the ACLU on OkCupid, I wanted modern daters to be able to proudly display that they use Nymph, signaling to prospective matches where their values lie. I feel that the more we have this discussion out in the open, the easier it will be, the more people will practice safer sex, and the lower the STI case rates will fall.
So, I’ve always wanted badges. But the major dating apps have been hesitant to address STIs in any way (despite their obvious contribution to them). They don’t want their names uttered in the same sentence as Gonorrhea, etc. So, will they ever be interested in working with Nymph? Go ahead, use our name as a buffer. We don’t mind at all! But will they?
So what happened today that got me so excited? Match Group (Tinder, Hinge, OKCupid, Plenty of Fish, and more) has added Covid-19 vaccine badges! From now until July 4th, users will be able to share if they are vaccinated, and may choose to prioritize other users who also got the jab. This is fantastic, in general, but what I hear as the founder of Nymph is: Match Group understands the cultural divide, has chosen a side, and is willing to stick their neck out to support users who prioritize safety.
So, my big question: Will they be willing to do the same when it comes to sexual health? Match Group is my Big Fish. My ultimate goal is to see the rate of new STI cases drop by 80% in my lifetime, and stay down. I don’t know if I can do that as a bootstrapped app just hanging out on the app store, relying on grassroots marketing and word-of-mouth to gain users. A partnership with the biggest dating app company in the world is exactly what I’d need to get Nymph into as many hands as possible. The more people using Nymph, the brighter the future will be.