This is a five-part weekly series of Sextech founders by Relationship Counselor & Clinical Sexologist Dr. Martha Tara Lee of Eros Coaching. This is part 1 of 5.
1) What do you do?
I am Jakub Konik – the Founder & CEO of Lovely Inc. Lovely is a sex toy and an mobile app (available for free on both iOS and Android) that makes couples scream with joy. Lovely learns what you and your partner enjoy in bed and suggests new positions, stimulation, techniques and other sex-related ideas based on your liking. You can use these feedback to elevate your sex life. The Lovely toy and the mobile app were created in cooperation with renowned sexologists and sex-educators from both US and the EU.
2) Tell us more about the background of Lovely?
Lovely is backed by Arkeley – brinc.VC – Poland’s top hardware VC and accelerator and Hax by SOSV – world’s first and largest hardware accelerator.
Lovely was founded at the start of January 2015. We have two offices – Krakow (Poland) and San Francisco (USA).
The Lovely team is very lean which ensures that we are on top of all our research, manufacturing and building processes and delivering value to the end consumers. It comprises of myself, our CTO who takes care of building the hardware and overlooks the production, professional Sexologist who’s responsible for the creation of all the feedback, tips and advice, Marketing Manager who’s in-charge of all our inbound and outbound marketing activities, iOS developer responsible for building and deploying the Lovely app and our Sales Director who takes care of the B2B sales in EU and more.
3) What is the mission of Lovely?
At Lovely, we have a very simple mission. We want to help all people enjoy great sex. We want to achieve it with cutting-edge technology and latest sexual health knowledge that doesn’t interfere with the lives but in a way amplifies it.
People from all around the world irrespective of their sexual orientation, relationship status, or ethnicity enjoy sex: we want to make it even better for them.
4) Why do you do what you do?
Prior to founding Lovely, I ran the marketing and PR for one of the biggest dating sites in the world. I hit upon the idea of Lovely after a session of making love with my partner when I wondered how many calories we burnt during the session. I looked for solutions online but there was nothing that came anywhere close to what I wanted. This prompted me to do further research and before after talking to some sexologist we realized that Lovely can do much more than just estimate calories burned during sex. Before I knew it, I launched Lovely. We initially decided to go for a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Although, we didn’t meet our target, but it generated a lot of interest from backers and media all around the globe. We did extensive research and testing on how we wanted our product to stand out in the market and offer real value to consumers. I invested my personal savings to put together the prototype and soon we raised money to produce the first batch of the products. Last year, we broke the Polish record of equity crowdfunding where we raised north of 1.64 million PLN (roughly half a million USD) in under two weeks.
5) What are some of the reactions to what you do?
Lovely is a very unique (hands-on) product. It helps with stronger and longer lasting erections, additional clitoral stimulation for the female partner in order to orgasm, Lovely aids in improving your sex-related communication and discover new and exciting tips and advice for you to enjoy, all of which are prepared by professional sexologists. And not to forget, we are still the only device that counts how many calories you burnt after each and every intercourse.
The reaction to a product such as ours has been overwhelming to the say the least. People have written to us with the difference they notice in their lives in general once the started using the toy and try the feedback and advice that we prepare for them. Media publications around the world have given us raving reviews that push us to work harder and deliver more joys to our users. Every day the entire team walks into the office with only one goal in mind – How can we make your sex lives even more exciting than what it is right now!
I think people react this way because we are not just any cookie-cutter solution that’s available in the market. The offering of Lovely is much more than that. Sex is a very private and personal experience and this is what makes us stand out. The advice that you receive is exclusive to the needs and desires of you and your partner. And once you put these tips in practice, it can truly help you unlock your sexual potential. As Allure magazine writes, “Lovely is like a sex therapist in the bed with you.”
6) What do you wish people who knew about you/ your work/ your product?
That it’s very simple to use and makes you talk with your partner about sex much more, which results in sexual discovery and enhances your sexual wellbeing. We have worked incredibly hard in putting together the hardware and app that delivers you value even long after you’ve used it. We are always open to more feedback, understanding what our users enjoy the most and how can we assist more.
7) Would you consider what you do sex tech, and what is sex tech?
Absolutely. At its core, sex tech is primarily using technology to aid your sexual experience. Cindy Gallop, one of the leading figures of the sex tech industry defines sex tech as a technology, and technology-driven ventures, designed to enhance, innovate and disrupt in every area of human sexuality and human sexual experience.
8) Do you see a trend in this industry?
There is definitely a high interest to tech in the sex industry, however I think sex is not about stats or figures – it’s an experience, not performance. We do not provide any stats to our users besides the energy expenditure, which we treat as a trivia. It’s noteworthy to point out how ‘sex’ has been on the frontlines of innovation. The porn industry is notoriously famous for the VHS tapes’ revolution and faster internet streaming technologies.
The leading players and the ones who have been in the market for awhile now, have been toying with technology to make their toys ‘smart’. But at the end of the day, it all boils down the actual ‘value’ of what you or your product is offering because consumers can see right through it. One can have ‘n’ number of features but if it fails in the basic function i.e. to ‘provide pleasure’ all technological enhancements will take a back seat.
Having said that, the sex tech industry is currently valued at $30 billion, so you can only imagine the amount of innovation that’s happening currently. It’s a great news for both toy makers and end users. People now have more choices than a standard vibrator or a penis ring and products that offer innovative solutions in order to maximise your pleasure.
9) What makes your product unusual?
As I said right at the start, when I set out to found Lovely, I was clear in my head that I wanted to make a product that stands out and delivers more than just vibrations. And that itself makes Lovely a very unique proposition in the market.
We are the only device that helps you to explore and enhance your sexual desires through in-app content and education tailored to your sexual preferences. We work very hard in making sure that device delivers pleasure and excitement for our users and then the app gives you more value out of your sessions.
10) What would it take for somebody to do what you do?
Well, to be honest it’s the not easiest path to set foot on, but once you do, the journey is exhilarating to say the least. Let’s see, for someone who wants to get in the sex tech industry he/she has to be open-minded (it’s a given, but still…), has to be extremely resourceful and have the ability to think on their feet – the sex tech industry is glamorous but it comes with its own set of restrictions and blockades that can be hugely demoralising and you’ll always have to find ways to manoeuvre and see what works for you the best. Excellent decision-making skills, and honesty – need to keep asking yourself what made you start in the first place.
Disclaimer: Dr. Martha Tara Lee has neither vested interest, investment in Lovely Inc. nor did she receive any monetary exchange or incentive in doing this interview series. Lovely Inc. did not influence or tell Dr. Martha Tara Lee what to ask above either.
Surrounded by friends who were sexually inhibited and struck by dire lack of positive conversations around sex and sexuality in Singapore, Dr. Martha Tara Lee set out to make a positive difference in embarking on her doctorate in human sexuality before launching Eros Coaching in 2009. Today, she remains dedicated to working with individuals and couples who wish to lead self-actualised and pleasure-filled lives.
She also holds certificates in counselling, coaching and sex therapy, and completed her fourth degree – a Masters in Counselling. In practice since 2009, she is the only certified sexuality educator by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) in Singapore.
Often cited in the local media, Dr. Lee is the appointed sex expert for Men’s Health Singapore, and Men’s Health Malaysia. She was recognised as one of ‘Top 50 Inspiring Women Under 40′ by Her World in July 2010, and one of ‘Top 100 Inspiring Women’ by CozyCot in March 2011. She is the host of weekly radio show Eros Evolution on the OMTimes Radio Network. She has published three books: Love, Sex and Everything In-Between, Orgasmic Yoga and From Princess to Queen.
Martha works with individuals and couples in private coaching sessions, and conducts her own workshops. She takes prides in making sure all her workshops are also fun, educational, and sex-positive. This comes easily to her because even though she is extremely dedicated and serious about her work, she fundamentally believes that sex is meant to be fun, wonderful, amazing and sacred. As such, this serious light-heartedness has shone through again and again. For her full profile, click here. Email her here.