Making it personal

Founder of award-winning sex-tech company shares grand vision to close the ‘orgasm gap’

MysteryVibe founder Stephanie Alys.

Award-winning inventor and entrepreneur Stephanie Alys, 28, is seeking to bridge the gap between men and women — not just in terms of how they are paid and treated, but also with respect to the number of orgasms they experience. Alys, the CEO and co-founder of the multi-million dollar luxury dildo manufacturer MysteryVibe, became one of the leading figures in the world of sex-tech by inventing a number of technologically advanced sex toys and vibrators that she says are intended to be customizable to the user’s own personal preferences.

Speaking to BBC News, Alys said that creating her award-winning devices wasn’t hard for her — at least compared to the obstacles posed by a culture of shame surrounding female sexuality that not only directly impacts her customer base, but also initially made it a struggle to attract investors.

“You may hear quite a bit about the gender pay gap, but you probably hear far less about the gender orgasm gap. There’s actually a big gap in between genders when it comes to how many orgasms we’re having,” said Alys. And she’s backed up by the data. According to a January 2018 report from the Archives of Sexual Behavior, 95 percent of straight men usually orgasm during sex, compared to just 65 percent of straight women.

“For me, it’s really important to talk to women about sexuality, about masturbation and to close that gap,” she added. “When you’re starting any business, it’s really tough. There are going to be so many hurdles and barriers that you need to push through. But when you’re starting a business in sexuality or pleasure those barriers are just that little bit higher.” In the future, Alys hopes to narrow that divide — in part though smart sex devices which she envisions being integrated into the fabric of women’s, and men’s, daily lives.

But getting a sex-focused business up and running presented a unique set of challenges, she said. “Finding funding is a tricky thing for any young company. But when it comes to sex, it might not be right for you to take institutional investment because, unfortunately, some of them might have clauses in their contract that say, ‘No sex, no drugs, no gambling.’ For us what has worked is speaking to lots of angel investors,” she continued, noting that much of her company’s early funding had come from individual investors rather than from traditional venture capital firms.

“If we put sensors in the product that could understand your level of arousal, then we could start to deliver you content that was personalized towards you — it could perhaps hook up with your smart TV, smart lighting or smart heating and make sure when you arrive home the room is nice and comfy and warm,” she explained, smiling broadly at the thought. And while some critics have expressed concern about the risk of such data being leaked, Alys says that ethical business practices, and the potential payoff for women, should help to alleviate such concerns.

“We’ve had this concept in sex, fetish and kink for a long time of ‘informed enthusiastic consent.’ So someone needs to know exactly what you’re collecting and give an active ‘yes’ to it being collected,” said Alys.

Watch Alys’ interview with BBC News below.

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