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Real Talk app

Real Talk is a mobile app that uses crowd-sourced stories to help middle school students learn about sexual health topics

Photo of Cristina Leos
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Opportunity Areas – Select those that apply

  • mHealth

What specific problem(s) are you trying to address? (300 character limit)

As high school teachers in rural eastern North Carolina, our team witnessed nearly 20% of their female students became pregnant by the 10th grade. In many places, lack of access to comprehensive sex education contributed to teens facing an unintended pregnancy and having to forego college.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the problem(s) you are working to address? (500 character limit)

We are currently testing our user acquisition and user retention strategies to ensure that we have the reach and adoption necessary to have an impact. We are also conducting preliminary evaluations to determine the effect we have on students' knowledge, attitudes, and communication skills related to sexual health outcomes.

Who are your end users? (1000 character limit)

Our product is designed primarily for low-income and rural middle school students of color (13-15 years old) who lack access to comprehensive sex education in school. This segment has distinct design needs (e.g. no computer at home, limited literacy) and high smartphone ownership, so by designing with them in mind, we created a product that many other teens can access easily. There are approximately 20.6 million students ages 10-14 in the US and reports estimate 73% of teens have smartphones, so our target market includes about 8 million students across the U.S In the long-term we hope to reduce rates of teen pregnancy, but as a first step, we aim to increase teens' confidence and skills to have conversations about sex and relationships with their peers, partners, and trusted adults. Research shows this outcome is significantly associated with safer sex practices and ultimately reduced rates of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections

Explain your idea. (500 character limit)

We engaged with over 500 teens and tested multiple prototypes to find the concept that resonates most with them, specifically that they want to learn from the experiences of others. All our content is carefully screened and curated, and aligns to national sexuality education standards. Our stories also link to high quality online resources and allow students to share their own stories via a guided in-app story submission process.

What is your value proposition? (500 character limit)

Real Talk helps middle school students know that everyone has issues when it comes to puberty and sexual health and they are not alone. We engaged with over 300 teens throughout our research and learned that students prefer not to learn about sex and relationships in school, are concerned about privacy and their reputations, and prefer mobile apps over desktop or browser. This led us to select a mobile app, which students can privately access both in and out of school, as the medium.

What's different about your idea compared to current solutions? (500 character limit)

Students reviewed different sexual health websites, mobile apps, and in-school programs and described them as “boring”, “too much reading”, and “not in teen language”, “one size fits all” (especially for LGBTQ teens), and students thought they covered “only the basics”. Real Talk has three distinct advantages: 1) We use storytelling over facts and information. 2) We specifically include LGBTQ stories. 3) We use stories from real teens and authentic experiences -no other mobile app does this.

What are the key reasons why end users would turn to your organization over another?

  • Newness: Satisfying a new set of needs

What would success look like for your end users? (500 character limit)

Success for our teens would mean that they use Real Talk consistently to learn about others' experiences with sexual health topics and know that they are not alone in facing these situations. Success would also include having teens use what they read and learn in Real Talk to talk with others and access additional information about these topics. Our immediate goals are to improve teens' confidence and skills in having conversations about these topics.

How would you measure the impact your idea has on your end user(s) ? How will you measure the success of your program? (500 character limit)

Our KPIs include: # of downloads # of users acquired each month % of users who visit the app more than once # of stories read per user per visit % of users who click on links to external content to learn more Monthly active users (i.e., visit the app 4+ days per week) Referral rate (# of new users referred by an existing active user per month) Churn We will measure changes in knowledge, attitudes, and communication in the short term, and other relevant sexual health behaviors later.

What strategies will/are you testing to acquire end users? (300 character limit)

Our hypothesized strategy includes: social media advertising, peer-to-peer in-app referrals, and referrals by institutional partners. We used Instagram to drive users to our online story submission portal and achieved a 10% submission rate.

Key partnerships - Who will you partner with to make your idea work? (500 character limit)

Local, regional, and national institutional partners serving youth (e.g., non-profits, schools); corporate partnerships to explore earned revenue strategies; foundations and other grant-giving organizations; technical talent (design and development); teens, parents, and educators

What is your organization’s name? (150 character limit)

MyHealthEd, Inc.

Tell us more about you: (750 character limit)

We are a team of 3 female co-founders that joined forces while we were each in graduate school (for business and public health). We have undergraduate and graduate degrees from Stanford, Princeton, Yale School of Management, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and have experience in education, engineering, business, and public health. We are a 501c3 and have hired several contractors to help us build the mobile app. We launched our beta version in the app store in September 2017 and are now looking to measure our impact, refine out product, and scale.

Organizational Characteristics

  • Women-led organization

Where will your idea be implemented? (200 character limit)

Primarily in the United States, though if we are successfully domestically we will look to scale beyond this region.

What do you need to get started? (500 character limit)

We need financial capital to help with growth and scaling, as well as human capital to help fill technical roles, particularly as we begin to scale.

What is the current scale of your proposed innovation?

  • Community - one or a few communities within one country

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

Expertise in Sector

  • I've worked in a sector related to my idea for more than a year.

Organization Location (200 character limit)

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

What is your organizational status?

  • We are a registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.

What is the maturity of your innovation?

  • Existing Prototype or Pilot: I have tested a part of my solution with users and am iterating.



Join the conversation:

Photo of Jillian Gedeon - IYAFP

Cristina this is awesome and so needed! We've got a similar idea for a project but instead of an app, we came up with a comic card idea that can be distributed everywhere. We should brainstorm together!

Photo of Cristina Leos

Hi Jillian Gedeon - IYAFP - thanks for the comment! We would love to hear your lessons learned and think through areas for improvement.