EARLIEST ENTREPRENEURIAL MEMORY: I sold Aflac insurance after college to save money for a one-way ticket to China. A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION: My Ancestors. FAVORITE DISH: Ginataang bilo bilo (sticky rice balls in coconut milk porridge). SOMETHING I’M REALLY PROUD OF: I devote many hours each week to watering friendship.
Building a world between stiff science & sexiness
INEVITABLE, YET UNEXPECTED. If someone had told Andrea Barrica in her early twenties that one day she’d be the Founder and CEO of O.school, a shame-free sexual wellness and technology company, she would never have believed them. “I love business and I love being queer, but my life didn’t start out that way. In many ways, it began with a love for innovating anything that seemed hard or challenging—because I’ve always welcomed a challenge, I’ve always felt the best things in life are almost always worth the risk,” she says.
Andrea grew up as a first-generation Filipino-American in a conservative, Catholic family. She planned to go to college, and expected she’d probably marry a man. While she did earn a degree in Linguistics from UC Berkeley, her path was interrupted by a phone call from a friend. She says, “I got a call from my freshman year college roommate who had just gotten into YCombinator, and said she needed me to drop everything and come help her build accounting software. She was a smart woman building a company, so I dropped everything. I figured I’d give it a few years at most and then get back to my life.”
That was eleven years ago. Andrea reflects that this moment was such “an important start to much of my story: women helping women,” and it changed the trajectory of her life. After several years helping to building her friends company, she was tapped to become a venture partner at 500 Startups, a global venture capital firm focused on uplifting people and building economies around the world.
In time, Andrea embraced her sexual orientation and came out of the closet, and she kept searching for answers. She notes that though she had “all this technology, all these online communities and resources in my professional life, I couldn’t find anything that helped me navigate this new world in my personal life. I kept asking myself, ‘what exists online between Planned Parenthood and porn? What exists between medical websites, health sites, and just porn?’”
DEVELOPING A NEW LANGUAGE OF TRADITIONALISM. At O.school, they have grown a global, from all walks of life, of all ages that are excited and eager to help people build their sexual confidence through science-based videos and articles.
“Some people assume my linguistics degree became instantly worthless when I moved into the world of tech, but it’s just not true. I’m translating all the time as a salesperson or trying to educate business owners and founders on the new technologies, around bookkeeping and accounting and taxes. Now that I’m the founder of a sexual wellness company, I’m translating intergenerationally. I’m translating between communities. I’m translating from the language of business to sex to wellness and to activism,” she laughs.
“My entire journey with sexual wellness has been rewriting and pushing back on the narrative that sex is about having babies. Seeing beyond those false narratives is so rewarding. You can see the future some days, and you can accept your current life so much more readily. ‘Traditional’ doesn’t mean ‘everlasting’; it means ‘the norm’. And what O.school is trying to do is change the norm and build a new ‘traditional’ for those who need it,” she concludes.
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