There is nothing wrong with going traditional (read: flowers, chocolates, jewellery) this Valentine’s Day. But during extraordinary times (read: pandemic) it could also be a good idea to change things up a bit and go for the more innovative, techy vibe for your V-day gifts.
Every year at EU-Startups, we compile a list of European startups to help you celebrate Valentine’s Day. This year, mindful of the on-going pandemic, our list includes wellness apps, sextech products, food and skin care, all for you to enjoy this ‘love month’, whilst considering limited mobility and from the comfort of your own home. It also includes a number of presents to ‘self-gift’, whether you’re single or in a couple.
Meditation subscription – First on our list is something that will help your partner reduce stress, which is particularly relevant right now. With a tagline of “mindfulness, meditation, music”, Meditopia aims to help users calm their mind by changing their personal approach to mental wellbeing. This Berlin and Istanbul-based startup is the most downloaded wellness app in the non-English speaking regions. It’s three-pronged personal approach to mental wellbeing starts with relaxation through personalized meditations and music followed by a resolution step that lets you participate in 7-day mindfulness-based programmes to change behaviour. Participants can then “transcend” and dive into deep thought and contemplation with its community.
Meal for two at home – Two things that the pandemic has shown us: food delivery apps are booming, and more people are rediscovering the joys (and pains!) of home cooking! Recipe boxes delivered to your doorstep combine both these trends. Launched in London in 2015 by school friends Giles Humphries, Myles Hopper and Robert Grieg-Gran, the Mindful Chef delivers ethically sourced ingredients from small UK farms and producers. Mindful Chef has a social impact component in that it also donates school meals to children in poverty for every meal ordered. In 2020, with 40 staff and having delivered +2 million meals, they were voted the UK’s number 1 recipe box. If you’re located elsewhere, check out these other alternatives across Europe.
Wellness audio subscription – Emjoy is maybe among one of those Valentine’s day gifts that are so unique, yet so in keeping with the times. Emjoy is an audio subscription app of personalized sessions, based on science and psychology from real therapists, to guide users toward a more fulfilling sex life. Founded in 2018 and based in Barcelona, Emjoy is among the sextech startups that have experienced an uptick and increased usage since the start of the pandemic, and with good reason. From staying present, to setting boundaries, Emjoy’s audio guides help users navigate tune into their body and put their mind at rest. This is a perfect gift for yourself, a friend, or a partner.
Vegan skincare – Less confusing and affordable skincare products? Check-out Typology, a relatively young Paris-based startup, founded in 2019, that aims to demystify skin care through its offering of premium products with formulas that are pared-back and distilled down to the most essential and natural active ingredients. Typology is available exclusively online, selling their products directly to customers. It bundles its products into “routines”, examples including for blemished skin, wrinkles, and fine lines, etc.,but also sells each formulation individually. Typology may be a young startup but its founder, Ning Li, has already got a wealth of experience building the successful startup MADE.com, which offers high-end design without the high-end price tag.
Sustainable clothing – Ecoalf is a sustainable clothing brand based out of Madrid. Founded in 2012, Ecoalf prides itself as more than a conscious clothing brand. Its mission is to create the first generation of recycled products with the same attention to quality, design, and technical properties as the best non-recycled products in the market. It manages the full process from waste collection to recycling technologies, manufacture and design and finally retail to maintain transparency in the process. Their stylish sneakers, clothes and accessories bear inspirational messages like “there is no planet B” or call to actions like “act now!” that make a great planet-friendly gift.
Make love network – MakeLoveNotPorn is a user-generated, human-curated social sex platform, which is referred to as the ‘Facebook’ of real-world sex. MLNP allows the sharing of that one area of all our lives no other social platform will allow – its social sex videos aren’t just something to watch but also provide inspiration and self-help. For Valentine’s day, you can purchase access to MNLP’s videos and gift them to someone or share MNLP to your network and ask them to join for free to access previews and free content. For more on MNLP and it’s efforts to build a ‘social sex revolution’, check out our interview with Cindy Gallop, MNLP’s Founder and CEO.
Ecological water – If you have not started giving environmentally friendly gifts, this Valentines is a good time to start. Why not consider Ocean Bottle, a London-based startup selling water bottles made from recycled plastic and stainless steel, and teaming up with global recycling communities? Founded in 2018, Ocean Bottle’s plastic raw materials are collected by individuals in local coastal regions. Collectors then exchange the plastic they collect for things they need like tuition, healthcare, and access to microfinance. Every Ocean Bottle sold funds the collection of 1000 plastic bottles. This is a great practical gift for a planet-conscious partner that’s into walking, hiking, gym-ing or commutes/travels regularly.
Melanin rich skin care – A skincare line for melanin-rich skin, 4.5.6. skin’s offerings range from individual products for cleansing, toning and mattifying, to bundled products for specific routines like hydration and pigmentation. 4.5.6 skin is a welcome addition to skin care market that has long ignored the needs of melanin-rich skin. Founded in 2019 by Noelly Michoux, a French entrepreneur of Cameroonian descent, 4.5.6 Skin was born out of Noelly’s experience of a lack of skincare products for her skin tone. After incubation at the LVMH Research Centre, 4.5.6 Skin established its own lab and production unit in the Cosmetic Valley in France. This is a great gift for yourself or a partner!
Your own e-bike – Most of us may be working or studying from home. In times when we want to get a much-needed respite from home life, why not hit the streets on an electric bike? Cowboy, the Brussels-based, design driven electric bike company, could be the perfect gift this Valentine’s day. Cowboy’s 16.9 kg bike, with a removable battery built seamlessly into the frame, ensures a light, speed-intuitive ride that goes the distance. Founded in 2017, Cowboy has raised a Series A round in 2018, and became Crowdcube’s most successful cleantech campaign in 2019, which hit the €4.2 million target with days to spare. In July 2020, it completed its Series B funding of €23 million led by Exor Seeds. If you’re looking for a luxury gift for an active partner, this one could hit the spot.
Sex toy delivery – Rounding-up our list is this Barcelona-based sextech startup that seeks to end prejudices, ignorance, and taboos related to sex. Platanomelon goes beyond a sex toy e-commerce company. It has a series of communication channels, user service dynamics, and community-building tools, creating a sexual education and revolution through tutorials and explanatory posts has led the company to build a community of more than 1 million subscribers on YouTube, and 660k followers on Instagram. Since its foundation in 2014, Platanomelon has witnessed growth as sextech has become more mainstream, as told to us in an interview with its CEO, Anna Boldu. This Valentine’s day, you can check-out Platanomelon’s range of his and hers sex toys, experience boxes, lingerie with free guides downloadable from its e-commerce site.
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