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CEO of Clue Ida Tin sitting in her office holding a notebook.

Photo by Claire McWeeney

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Making money at Clue: our principles and promises

Making money. How you do it defines who you are, as a startup. At Clue we have experimented with various business models, and are always thinking hard about what kind of company we want to be. These questions are fundamental: What do we believe in as founders, as a team, as humans? What do we stand for as a technology company? What kind of world do we want to be part of creating?

While we were experimenting, the news about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica broke, and yet again tech, data, and money were intertwined in ways that felt icky and lost peoples’ trust. Too many companies in the digital economy have business models based on exploiting people’s data in ways that are only possible because the companies are not transparent. People do not understand how their web or mobile apps make money—if they did, they might feel less compelled to use them. Hardly anyone reads the terms of service or privacy policy for their apps, because most of them are impossible to understand.

We want to be able to look our users in the eyes when we explain how we make money. Clue is a mission-based company. We want to push menstrual and reproductive health forward. We want women and people with cycles to make good choices for themselves, and live full lives not in spite of their biology, but in tune with it. And we want to have a business model that supports this vision.

We want our users to know the principles we keep ourselves accountable to as we aspire to become a self-sustaining company. Here they are:

  • Clue is the product, and our users are our customers. This means that we do not want to build a business model that relies on sharing our users’ attention or personal data with third parties.

  • Clue aims to be affordable to all, without compromising our integrity. This means that we will price our services such that as many people as possible can use Clue, while still making enough money so that we do not resort to selling data.

  • We want to sustain the company so that we can improve people’s lives. This means that the main motivation for making revenue is to build a sustainable company, both financially and in other dimensions, such as trustworthiness. It also means that we do not optimize for short-term financial gain at the expense of our long-term commitment to helping our users live better lives.

  • We want to sustain the company so that we can push menstrual and reproductive health forward. This means that we have an ambition to improve the state of menstrual and reproductive health around the world—not only for Clue users.

We know that when you choose to use Clue, you need to trust that you are in a 1:1 relationship—where you know where your data is going, and you know that no-one is listening in. Here are Clue’s terms of service, and our privacy policy. We want you to understand what is going on with your data.

We are just about to go from a solely venture-backed startup to a company making its own money. Before we show you what we have come up with, we want you to know where we are coming from, what we believe in, and how we think about making money.

Recently, the answer has become pretty clear. We wanted to build an app that’s supported by you and other users like you—not by selling your data, but by creating real value in your lives. We decided that the best way to do this would be to include some of our features in our premium subscription, Clue Plus

When you subscribe to Clue Plus, your contribution goes toward improving the app’s features and helping our team make bigger and better changes. Not only that, your subscription funds research the world sorely needs. Menstrual and reproductive health is criminally under-funded, and for years Clue has advocated and supported that research as much as we could, but your support allows us to take that even further. With this premium subscription—educational information and Clue’s core period tracking experience in the app, which so many people love, is able to stay free for everyone.

I wrote about why building an app costs so much—it’s the reality we live in. But it doesn’t mean we can’t build an inclusive, ethical, sustainable app. It just means we need your help to do it. 

Tap here on your phone to get Clue Plus now

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