Tech Open Air, the summer interdisciplinary technology festival in Berlin, hosted a hardware startups competition (“Work Hard. Play Hard. Ware Hard”) this year. I interviewed Jakub Konik from the winning startup team – the Krakow-based Lovely, a toy that helps people have better sex. It monitors and stimulates your sex life, and sends the gathered data to the Lovely app which provides you with personalised sexual suggestions, calories burned, and more.
I also chatted about sextech with Cindy Gallop, one of the contest judges, who also had an amazing power talk at TOA16. According to Cindy, the golden age of sextech is coming. “Sextech is important because sex and sexuality lie at the heart of everything we are and everything we do. Society’s conflicted attitude toward sex – we all enjoy it but we don’t talk about it,” says Cindy. Cindy is also founder of MakeLoveNotPorn – a platform for #realworldsex videos.
And here is the interview with Jakub Konik, founder of the smart sex toy Lovely:
What is Lovely? What problems do you solve?
Jakub Konik: Lovely is a sex toy that helps couple’s have a better sex life. There are more than 120 variables associated with sexual satisfaction, of which most we are not even aware of, and because of that enhancing your sexual satisfaction is often a challenge. Lovely is a sex toy that simply helps every couple to have a better sex life without knowing about all of that stuff. it simply makes your sex life even better by providing you with highly personalized ideas & suggestions on how to have even better sex.
What did you win at TOA16? How was the competition?
Jakub Konik: The competition was strong, as most of our competitors are using highly advanced technology, however Lovely as an ecosystem consisting of hardware, software and knowledge base from our sexologists was still a superior product, which gives the most value to the people by improving their sex, and as a result, improving their lives. The networking and introductions after we won was valuable. We’ve been contacted by two angel investors and two VC funds that are interested in our next funding round that will happen before the year’s end.
What kind of help does your startup currently need?
Jakub Konik: Currently we are mass producing Lovely and will be starting our preorder campaign soon. At the end of the year we will be looking for additional funds to scale our production and distribution channels. Interested investors can request our deck at email@example.com.
Do you see that investors do not want to invest in sextech? Why?
Jakub Konik: It is something you hear about, however it is improving and we are seeing a huge interest from angel investors, VCs and accelerators. Sex toys are becoming more and more mainstream, nowadays you can buy them in more and more places like pharmacies, grocery shops or even large chains like Tesco. It’s because they look better, are made with better materials and provide much more value than the “normal” sex toy that only vibrates. So I think that new sex toys will be treated as every other IoT or wearable product, but of course they will always make you smile – which is good, because sex is fun!
Why is sex so important, in your view?
Jakub Konik: Good sex is a vital part of any relationship. It needs to be there to keep the blood flowing, the emotions present and prevent partners from steering into the hands of infidelity. At Lovely we believe that when people have more and better sex they will live better lives, which is what every sexologist, sex educator or sextech startup also believes in.
What is good and bad in sex business?
Jakub Konik: So far we have not encountered anything bad on our way, just normal startup challenges. Sextech startups support each other and we received tons of help from fellow sextech companies, like for example from MysteryVibe, creators of Crescendo, who connected us to various factories, or from Cindy Gallop who supported us at TOA. The most challenging part is always manufacturing, as it requires huge amount of funds and is always full of uncertainties. However, it’s nothing different from other hardware startups and can be managed with the right approach.