If you look for articles or posts about sexuality online, you will find countless sources. So many, as a matter of fact, that finding the ones that really offer valuable information is like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack. That is also what Stephanie Alys, the co-founder of MysteryVibe, discovered when she probed the world wide web for such articles. As a result, she decided to compile the “The High Notes”, a side project she launched while working on MysteryVibe’s Crescendo Vibrator. It is a collection of the most interesting and helpful online articles focussing on sexuality and pleasure. In our EAN interview, Stephanie tells us more about this project, and while we’re at it, we also talk about how Crescendo has been doing in its first year since launch – plus, we learn that the British sex toy company is already busy working on their next project.
Crescendo, the first product by MysteryVibe, has been on the market since summer last year. How happy are with the performance of your vibrator so far? Stephanie Alys: It’s been an incredible experience – we’ve definitely had a few ‘pinch me please’ moments! One of the best things that has happened is that we have developed a real intimate relationship with our customers. They tell us their stories, many of them telling us that Crescendo has improved their relationships. That’s an amazing feeling.
Starting a pleasuretech business has been really hard, and we’ve had to overcome a lot of hurdles from accessing finance to finding people who want to, and are passionate, about working in the pleasure industry.
I still remember the first piece of media coverage we had in Techcrunch. We worked so hard to gain this recognition and position ourselves as a pleasure startup fuelled by the most advanced technology.
We’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of amazing media coverage and positive customer feedback we’ve had since then.
For those of our readers who are not familiar with Crescendo and MysteryVibe, could you briefly describe what sets your company and product apart from the competition?
Crescendo was created out of a desire to see more innovation around sex and technology. We noticed that even though sex and masturbation are as old as time itself, there was a lack of development when it came to pleasure products and experiences. It was obvious the taboos surrounding the topic played a significant role in this.
Everyone is different. We have different tastes, desires and bodies – when it comes to pleasure products, one size does not fit all. So we wanted to create something that would give the person a personalised experience – unique and perfected to them. We decided to put the person back in control – by giving them the ability to shape Crescendo to their body and discover or even create their own vibration partners.
We believe tech should enhance your sex life, not replace it. MysteryVibe was designed to address this – to help people switch off from the stresses of daily life and help turn them on when, and how they want.
What was the biggest lesson you learned so far on your MysteryVibe journey?
One of the biggest obstacles we faced when starting MysteryVibe was getting access to finance that would support our growth. Start-ups in other industries can approach venture capital firms, something we just could not do.
That’s not to say we didn’t try – we spent a lot of time speaking to VC firms who were intrigued by our product and vision, but ultimately turned us down for being too risque. So our options were limited to self-fund, crowdfund or find angel investment. Luckily we found a group of amazing angel investors who helped us raise funds to continue on our mission. Aside from funding, one of the best pieces of advice I’ve received is that no matter what you’re doing, everyone will have an opinion, as an entrepreneur you should listen to people but ultimately, don’t let it stifle your decision making. You know your business best!
You have also been busy with „The High Notes“, where you regularly blog and curate content about all things to do with sex, love, and vibrators. But maybe you could describe this project best yourself?
There’s some incredible content around sexuality & pleasure out there, but I couldn’t find anywhere that curated it all into one space. I wanted to provide our friends and subscribers with interesting facts & ideas – and ultimately help them to have great conversations with people around them about pleasure!
When creating or sharing content, we always ask ourselves these three questions:
“Is this interesting?”
“Does this add value?”
“Will this inspire conversation?”
We aim to only share content that is worthwhile, informative, fun and thought provoking across all channels – and avoids your typical ‘how to give your boyfriend a blowjob’ clickbait title.
The High Notes is a personal project of mine, and aims to give people a selection of good pleasure-focused content which hopefully gives an overview of what’s currently happening in the industry.
Apart from being entertaining, your posts often are educational as well. Do you feel that there is still a lack of knowledge among the consumers when it comes to sex and sex toys?
Although we’ve seen a huge increase in the amount of people engaging in conversations around sex, masturbation and intimacy we still have a long way to go. We conducted a study recently which found 70% of Brits we spoke to wouldn’t admit to masturbating.
There’s a lot of stigma and misunderstanding about sex toys; that they’re only for single lonely women, they’re a replacement for a human penis, they cause problems in relationships… we hope to tackle some of these by encouraging people to talk and producing thought provoking content. That’s not to say the industry is slowing down – sex tech is predicted to be worth $50 billion by 2020 and there some incredible entrepreneurs making a huge impact in the space.
From our perspective, it’s really important that every customer has a personalised experience and takes time to explore their bodies and sensations. This can be quite daunting, especially for someone who’s never used a sex toy before. That’s why we encourage such an open dialogue with our customers – the relationships don’t end when they buy our product.
“Sex tech is predicted to be worth $50 billion by 2020 and there some incredible entrepreneurs making a huge impact in the space.”
Are your blog and The High Notes part of MysteryVibes brand strategy, or is it rather something you just enjoy doing? What is needed to create a strong (vibrator) brand today anyway?
The High Notes definitely started out as something I just enjoyed putting together and sharing. Collaboration is a key part of what makes MysteryVibe work, so I think it’s really important to celebrate the great work of others, not just the stuff that makes us look good!
Our industry is very different from a lot of others; we’re challenging societal constructs, empowering people through intimacy and building a viable business at the same time. It’s hard work, but it’s also what brings pleasuretech entrepreneurs closer together as a collective.
I think these days, to create a strong brand within this space you need to be really conscious about your choices – for example, what materials you’re using for your product, how you talk about sex, sexuality & gender, what your values are, and how you’re helping to progress society’s understanding and tolerance of pleasure. Across all industries, customers are really starting to care about who brands are and what they stand for. I think our willingness to collaborate with our customers and competitors makes us strong. The fact we have a team full of people who are genuinely passionate about the brand also gives us an edge, of course!
What image are you striving for with MysteryVibe? What should come to people’s minds when they hear the company’s name?
Pleasure, luxury, technology, intimacy, empowerment, sensuality, personalisation… Crescendo is a luxury product, and we wanted our packaging and branding to reflect that.
It’s really important to us that MysteryVibe customers are proud to own Crescendo – they’re not embarrassed about using and owning a pleasure product because it looks and feels beautiful.
We worked with design and product experts Seymourpowell to ensure every aspect of the product – including all its little touches – were innovative and elegant. Crescendo is the world’s most advanced six-motor vibrator. We want our customers to think, “this product is beautifully made, the tech is really impressive and I feel great using it”.
What will be the next step for MysteryVibe? Maybe we will see Crescendo 2?
We’re continually working towards making MysteryVibe the go-to brand for pleasure. In the next few months we’re launching our second product, which is completely different – I’m very excited about that.