SexTech the industry whose very name deters many. It is an industry that has carried a lot of stigma and taboo. However, the SexTech industry is predicted to be worth over $122 billion by 2024. It is an industry that is ever-evolving to the needs of its clients. From tech-enabled solutions to sex toys, educational platforms, and more recently sex robots – the industry is booming.
As the majority of the SexTech market focuses on products targeting women, we asked five ‘sexperts’ from the sexual wellness space, who their top brands were to watch.
What does 2021 hold for SexTech?
Dominnique Karetsos, the CEO and co-founder of The Healthy Pleasure Group, was eager to highlight the industry’s ever-evolving nature. For Dominnique, Covid is having a real impact on the SexTech space. As she put it, “there’s nothing like a global threat to humanity to rethink how we heal humans.” With this in mind, Dominnique predicts “Telehealth (online digital support for sexual health needs) will only continue to grow, as more and more people demand medical and professional help within the safety of their own homes.”
Alongside this, Dominnique believes 2021 will see SexTech “become dominated by Fast Moving Consumer Goods products, especially as sexual wellness becomes a priority”. She also predicts “more brands using gamification as a way to engage and expand reach.”
A brand that was mentioned numerous times by our specialists was sex education provider Touchy-Feely Tech, who offer DIY Vibrator kits and workshops to encourage personal discovery and increase interest in STEM topics. Jodie West, CEO & Resident Sexologist at Bliss for Women, says the brand is “transforming the conversation around sex education through the power of making, coding, and technology.”
For Jodie, this use of technology “lowers the barriers to having open conversations around sexual health and pleasure by making the process of building intimate toys fun and educational.”
Similarly, Alex Wilshire, Femtech and SexTech enthusiast said Touchy-Feely Tech “combines education with self-awareness”. Through this combination of educational and self-awareness the brand, allows us to have “a greater understanding of how things are made, we can achieve greater intimacy with our owned possessions and ultimately with each other.”
Dame, a sex-toy brand, was highlighted by a number of our specialists. For Andrea Oliver, CEO and co-founder of Emjoy, the brand is “helping to push the industry forward.”
Jodie West, whose own health challenges and sex life were the catalysts for her passion for SexTech also admires the work of Dame. She says, “Dame is just such a pleasant customer experience from landing page to the product.”
Jodie’s says, “I love that one of the co-founders is a sexologist. They have been innovative in design and branding while making the whole experience with the brand comfortable (I don’t have another word) which makes sex, talking about sex, reading about sex, using sex toys so much easier.”
Andrea went onto highlight the brand’s partnership with Unbound, “on a campaign called “Approved, not Approved” [which worked to] bring awareness to the outdated advertising regulations present on social media when it comes to SexTech.” For this campaign, Andrea was in admiration.
Erika Lust is another key player in the SexTech world and has paved the way for more sex-positive curated content online. Erika Lust’s X Confessions app brings together her erotic film-style with technology to provide a fun game for couples. The app was highlighted by a couple of our experts including Jodie West who, when asked why the app was great, said “why wouldn’t you want to take things up a notch.”
Make Love Not Porn
Cindy Gallop may well be one of the leading experts in the sexual wellness space. Sharing her direct personal experience of technology’s impact on people’s sex lives, Cindy Gallop’s platform Make Love Not Porn is a direct result of these experiences.
For Sanasi Amos, sex educator and founder of Revaginate NG, Make Love Not Porn is “changing the narrative of sex entertainment.”
The platforms ethically curated videos and images, for Sanasi, are “showing the effect of acculturation while giving diverse and comprehensive sex education.”
For Jodie West, Ohnut, a wearable that allows couples to explore comfortable penetration depths during sex, is a must-need product. Jodie, who believes fundamentally in the importance of the sexual quality of life, says the product “saved me from creating my own version.”
Jodie went onto tell her story, “my hubby had sourced silicone and we had started talking about a way to create a buffer. So I was so excited when I saw Emily’s crowdfunding. I have been a fan of the Ohnut at every level.”
Raspberry Dream Land
For Alex Wilshire, whose passions lie in intimacy, human behaviour, and modern art, Social WebXR event platform Raspberry Dream Land, which brings progressive, uncensored arts and entertainment to one space, couldn’t be more perfect.
Alex had to say this. “There are so many fantastic ideas and brands in this space who are asking the right questions to evolve services, give a voice to underrepresented or rarely discussed issues and topics, or simply create enjoyment.”
For Alex however, Raspberry Dream Land “stands out because they are going to be fundamental in establishing new norms and paving a way for those who follow.”
Sex Education brand, RevaginateNG was also highlighted. RevaginateNG is West Africa’s first sex-positive brand, with a mission to empower individuals to be sexually liberated. Sanasi, the founder of Revaginate NG, noted that although they are a “pre-seed-stage startup” they already have “over 1200 subscribers to the sex forum”.
The brand is unique as it is the first West African brand working on this content. Because of this, Sansi notes, they are “creating culturally competent sex information and showing individuals how sex education can be a tool to fight racism.”
The Coral app, whose “content is comprehensive, inclusive [and] easy to use.” According to Jodie West, this is all “because they have amazing advisors”. For Jodie, the app represents the best of SexTech, and she went on to say that “we need more of this approach to sexual wellness in the world.”
Alex Wilshire, who assists SexTech brands with their emerging innovations and ideas, highlight Handi, the creators of the first line of SexTech for disabled people. As Alex said, “Handi is one of those brands where you think, I really can’t believe this hasn’t been explored to this extent before.”
She went onto say, “they are challenging the lack of disability representation and discussion when it comes to sexual pleasure with their first line of sex toys for anyone with hand limitations.” For Alex, this work “mirrors a lot of the challenges we are seeing with censorship and restrictive access to content and services across the rest of the space.”
Jodie West made the point that “there is such a gap in the market between health care and pleasure that this important part of the quality of life gets missed and people deal with it in silence.” She went onto say, “when we know how important it is why is it still so taboo?”
These questions have underpinned her latest project Femira. Jodie, and project partner Phoebe, are aiming to “bridge the gap between health care therapies & intimacy” with their “products and resources to support sexual wellness & communication”. For the partners, these two things “are essentials to enhance intimacy for life.”
As Dominnique Karestos says, all these brands are “revolutionising and reshaping how we incorporate sexual health and wellness into our daily healthy living. Through these categories, sexual health will become far more accessible and relatable to everyone. Pleasure does not discriminate.”
With thanks to our Sexperts:
Sanasi Amos, sex educator, researcher and founder of Revaginate NG a sex-ed tech startup.
Andrea Oliver, co-founder of Emjoy, the Barcelona-founded audio-based intimate wellbeing startup. Emjoy was borne out of my own experiences of normalising not climaxing, as well as those of my girlfriends. Through Emjoy, my team and I are working to ensure that current and future generations of women know that pleasure is a right, and that sexual wellbeing is every bit as important as mental and physical wellbeing.
Alex Wilshire, FemTech and SexTech enthusiast with a project management background. She assists brands in the SexTech space with their emerging innovations and ideas in any way I can. She is passionate about intimacy, human behaviour & modern art!
Jodie West, CEO & Resident Sexologist at Bliss for Women. Her upcoming projects (product and education resources development) will continue to break the taboo around sexual wellness and highlight the importance of the sexual quality of life throughout the lifespan & the holistic care of individuals.
Dominnique Karetsos, CEO and co-founder of The Healthy Pleasure Group, a pioneering collective that seeks to define, reshape and revolutionise the sexual empowerment of all generations and pave the way for healthy sexuality and healthy pleasure for everyone.