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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Why is sex technology the most overlooked giant in the wellness industry

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A new revolution is happening in the world of technology – one in which systemic barriers are being smashed by the women who are leading the way in the cutting edge wellness category.

As an investor with a tech track record that spans decades, I often marvel at the companies I just missed out on. Last year, that sentiment sparked Francis Tang, an Asian American founder who created a product so simple, but so clever that it prompted my eyes to open up to a movement I’d been missing out on. Her company, Awkward Essentials, caught my eye next Raised $2.3 Million In seed funding for feminine hygiene “drip wand”. The purpose of the product? Cleaning after sex.

As the company’s name suggests, this is not a topic that has been talked about frequently or publicly in the past. In fact, lingering taboos have kept the sexual health and wellness industry in the dark and off the radar of major investors. But this is changing rapidly.

Awkward Essentials is one of dozens of companies pioneering the sex technology revolution. An industry that used to be dominated by male vices is being reformed by women with an overall focus on sexual health and wellness. Honestly, this boom has made the sexual health market run at a fast pace $45 billion by 2026With an impressive compound annual growth rate of nearly 8%.

Here’s why it was launched and why a gender focus offers so much potential for investment.

An industry restored by men

For too long, the conversation about sex and technology has been dominated by a single topic: vice, usually from a male perspective. Since the original dotcom boom in the late 1990s, funding and innovation in this sector has focused squarely on websites. With time and Web2 innovations, static sites have given way to webcam platforms and creator-focused services like OnlyFans, but the focus and purpose of the sex technology has remained strikingly narrow.

But sexual health and wellness has always been a universal need—a need that transcends boundaries of gender, race, and class. The market does not start and end with “adult sites”. Sex tech as an industry can embrace everything from health and education products to relationship platforms, tools to enhance intimacy, and more.

I saw this tunnel vision firsthand while working on developing technology for first-generation dating sites in the 1990s. While men were seen as the primary audience, our technology has been snapped up by sites serving a variety of other markets – such as women, the LGBTQ community, and people with disabilities. It opened my eyes to the globalization of the industry and the investment opportunities that were left on the table.

In hindsight, this kind of oversight is not surprising given that even today, More than 97% of project financing He goes towards the men. This leads to one-sided research and development that fails to meet the needs of more than half of potential customers.

The lack of awareness has complicated other obstacles to the growth of the industry. Sexual wellness was (and still is) considered a taboo for many financial institutions, manufacturers, and distributors. In some cases, these taboos are reinforced by laws and rules that restrict advertisement or Finance of these products. Even basic logistics such as its payment processing Proved to be difficult When many companies don’t touch anything related to sex.

As a result, even forward-looking sex tech products and platforms have been left and withered on the vine.

Sea change in sexual positions

The good news? That dynamic was changing slowly, but surely. Awkward Essentials isn’t the only success story that has emerged in recent years. We have seen growth across the sector despite the historical and systemic challenges crippling the industry. Lifted Lioness, a woman-led company, is so much more than just vibrators $1.5 million in pre-incorporation funding round. There is Dipsea, an exciting audio app $5.5 million in 2019. There is Bump’n . Company Hands-free engineering products Designed for people with disabilities, it is available to some customers through disability insurance.

Why the last success? On one level, the mechanics of funding and building a business in sexual tech has grown easier with crowdfunding and e-commerce giants like Shopify. embracing Industry. There has also been a notable influence of millennials and Generation Z on prevailing cultural norms. Millennials are called Don’t judge the generation When it comes to sexual preferences, Generation Z is bigger Diversity and inclusion From any generation before them.

that was before Two years of the pandemic. Loneliness has given rise to a variety of techniques that have made intimacy easier for people who have felt lonely. from erotic apps To the rapid developments in Artificial intelligencePeople have found ways to meet their needs, which includes services centered around sexual health as well. Consider this: Despite the world shutting down for months at a time, it is likely that most countries have seen an increase in STDs during the pandemic due to Cancel the routine exam. any solutions? digital services Focuses on sexual health and counseling.

For me as an investor, the conversation about sex and wellness technology seems to be nearing completion. I’ve seen this happen before. Previously restricted or restricted areas – from online dating to online gambling and even industries like cannabis – have moved from the fringes of the internet to the mainstream, with enthusiastic support from investors and massive user demand.

Changing attitudes, growing demand, neglected markets, and new technologies have all put the sexual health industry at a tipping point. With the shift from a man’s vice to holistic health and wellness, investing in sex tech has gone from something you’d hide in your wallet into a smart, long-term game in a market with a clear uptrend.

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