The Most Unconventional Customer Acquisition Strategy We’ve Seen in Telehealth

How a female sexuality card game led to product-market-fit and a $100 million Series B.

healthcare startup acquisition strategy, tia, carolyn wittehealthcare startup acquisition strategy, tia, carolyn witte

As we put together our newly released thesis on verticalized telehealth, we asked founders how they acquired their first customers and validated their product-market fit. Coming off a $100 million Series B led by Lone Pine Capital, we sat down with Tia founder Carolyn Witte. When discussing the early days of Tia and how she acquired her first customers, Carolyn easily had the most memorable answer, and it’s a story we had to share to hopefully inspire other founders and operators—as well as show you how not sexy startups can be.

“We had no money at the time. We rigged very little paid marketing. Venture cap was like sub $10 because it was all organic," Carolyn says. "The wait list was so big that we were just basically spending no money on ads, but we had wild posters all over New York City. We invented a card game called Taboo Tales that was like Cards Against Humanity, but a female sexuality version. It was designed to get women talking about the things we all want to talk about but never say out loud. I literally played it in random women's apartments in New York City five days a week for three months. And all those people became Tia members.”

Talk about guerrilla marketing. When we asked Carolyn why she dedicated herself to taking this approach, she emphasized the importance of an experience-first model.

“Tia has always been a brand-first company, and we've created a product that doesn't exist in the market, which I think has really generated that brand love and flywheel. We think a lot about experiences. Women don’t use Tia. They join Tia. And so selling a community or that experience of joining something is part of the ethos.”

For those interested in learning more about Taboo Tales, Tia displays the game in their waiting spaces as an emblem of the conversations they aim to spark between patients and providers as well as amongst women in their communities and also hosts Taboo Tales nights in their community spaces and at members’ homes.

Curious to learn more or swap ideas about digital health? Reach out to me at or @jasonrshuman on Twitter.

Tags: Success