Let’s talk about sex and how these startups can make it better!
Every sphere of our lives can use a bit of innovation, can’t it? Innovation can improve how we dispose of food waste and even remind us about when to reapply sunscreen. With sex being an important part of our everyday lives, it is only natural that companies are trying to innovate how people engage with sexual pleasure as well.
It is this desire to innovate sexual pleasure that has led to the advent of sex technology. It is expected that by 2024, the sex tech industry will be worth more than US$122 billion. With that said, let’s take a look at the kind of products the sex tech industry is creating to enhance sexual experiences.
Lover – sex therapist in your pocket
Lover is a sex therapy app with the goal of increasing conversation around sexual health. Lover’s co-founder, Britney Blair, is a licensed sex therapist who says that she was inspired to create the app because of the sheer number of people (43% of women and 31% of men) who suffer from sexual dysfunction. The company says that more than 85% of its users have reported a 50% reduction in stress about their condition within a week of using the app. Besides Blair, Lover has six other therapists on board. Through its app, Lover intends to make sex therapy less taboo and lighter on the wallet.
Bump’n – making masturbation accessible
Bump’n (originally called Handi), an inclusive sex toy maker, was co-created by Andrew Gurza and his sister Heather Morrison. Gurza has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, which has rendered him disabled. When he shared how inaccessible sex toys are for people like him, Morrison came up with the idea to create their first product—Bump’n Joystick. The duo has consulted with the disability community and created a product that is a combination of a body pillow, a vibrator and foam roller. Users can hug the product and maneuver the sex toy onto their body in a way that feels good to them. The product is expected to hit the market by the middle of this year.
Giddy – combating erectile dysfunction
Giddy is a piece of wearable tech that aims to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) without medication. Giddy helps maintain blood flow in the wearer’s penis. Unlike a typical penis ring, Giddy is not restrictive and has an opening on one side. The product costs US$99 and with it, you also get a 30-day free trial of training sessions to help the user treat ED over time. Not only can the user strengthen their pelvic floor, they can also identify the causes and levels of their ED. Then, users will know how to address those causes and talk to their partner(s) about it.
Awkward Essentials – helping women clean up after sex
Frances Tang founded Awkward Essentials to help women deal with that awkward problem of cleaning up after sex. The company has created a single-use product called the “dripstick”, which is essentially like a tampon (made from a medical-grade sponge) that helps you clean up excess semen in the vaginal canal. The product is available in a multipack set and ranges from US$5-US$69. Yet, one has to use it carefully and gently because improper use can lead to micro-abrasions of the vaginal canal, which might increase the chance of contracting sexually transmitted diseases when having unprotected sex.
Coral – providing interactive sexual wellness for couples
Coral is an app meant to help couples enhance their sex lives. The app consists of an encrypted in-app messaging thread that delivers guided intimacy exercises and prompts for couples to complete together. The app is available for free to use for these guided sessions. Users can also pay US$60 a year to unlock premium features, such as a personalized sex tracker as well as a couple’s connect feature. This feature gives couples prompts to think more proactively about their sex lives and talk about changing levels of desire.
Lioness – redefining how people experience pleasure
Lioness is the world’s first biofeedback vibrator that collects arousal and orgasm data. Users can study the data collected by Lioness on their involuntary pelvic floor movements to understand how various factors, like mood, diet, sleep and medications, impact their sexuality. Co-founders Anna Lee, Liz Klinger and James Wang hope that the product will empower users to engage in active discussions about sexual pleasure with the help of quantitative data.
It is good news that these startups are all actively working towards making pleasure more inclusive and accessible. However, a problem facing sex tech startups is fundraising. Some venture capital funds do not invest in sex tech (as well as other non-traditional companies dealing with cannabis, alcohol, gambling) as stipulated by their vice clauses. Hence, if we were to promote liberty and innovation in the sex tech scene, an increased dilution of the vice clauses is needed. Only then will we see more innovators enter the space.
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