This year’s VENUS has come to an end last week but in the weeks to come we will publish several interviews and portraits about some of the exhibitors that we met during the fair to talk about their company, the state of the industry, new products and trends shaping the future of adult entertainment and the sex toy industry.
At the booth of Lovely, we were able to talk to Jakub Konik, the founder and CEO of Lovely Inc., a startup focused on app controlled sex toys with offices in the US and Poland. Mr. Konik came to Berlin to showcase his second and newest product and to find new business partners. Konik is 30, of polish decent, and one of the young entrepreneurs named among the 2018 Forbes List »30 Under 30«.
VENUS: We are currently at the booth of Lovely Fun, an American startup specializing in sex toys. Could you tell our readers a little about your company?
Jakub Konik: Of course. Our company is called Lovely Inc. We are in the market since 2015. Currently, we are debuting our second product. It is called Lovely 2.0. It is a smart cock ring for couples. And the big idea behind it is to help couples to have even better sex. The way we do it is the ring is connected to an app and that will give you one personalized tip how to have sex, an inspiration so to speak. For example, different positions to try, or a new stimulation technique.
VENUS: How does it work? What are the features of the cock ring?
Jakub Konik: The toy has two sensors inside that analyze your movements. It is kind of like a Fitbit but for sex. The big idea is not to give you data about your sex as that is not useful here. But the data is being analyzed to give you personalized tips. There are more than 100 tips. All of them have been created by a sex educator that we have hired in-house.
It is an ideal sex toy for couples because it doesn’t only provide clitoral stimulation but also other inspirations so that you can enrich your sex life as a couple. The toy is also remotely controlled and waterproof. It gets charged by induction where you put it on your docking station. And it is made out of silicon of course. It comes in two colors, soft-pink und wild-green.
VENUS: What are you looking for as a brand new exhibitor on this year’s VENUS?
Jakub Konik: We are selling to more than 50 countries and we are still looking for new business partners. Pretty much everywhere not only in Germany. But we know that a lot of industry members come to this fair, that is why we came.
VENUS: How many people work at your company? How is Lovely Inc. structured?
Jakub Konik: We have six people working in-house. And we are working together with 15 freelancers. Our products are produced in China, as everybody else’s as well.
VENUS: Who is in charge of the design at your company?
Jakub Konik: Our designers are a couple. And for several months they tested more than 50 cockrings. And in the end, they came up with this shape. It is a very specific form as it helps to spread the labia a bit. That is why it touches the clitoris very well. That’s a problem with other cockrings, some of them are too short or too thin to transfer the vibrations properly. But Lovely cockrings fit perfectly in a vulva.
VENUS: Were the designers involved with the founding of the company?
Jakub Konik: No, it was a freelance project for them.
VENUS: So if you are the only founder I got to ask: what got you into this business? For many people, myself included, it is kind of chance or a career change. But at some point it becomes a passion for many. What was your journey into the sex toy industry?
Jakub Konik: The story with me is that I was working for a dating company in Malta. They were available in more than 30 markets. And from my work with our affiliates, the cam services f.ex., being part of the industry I started to realize that there is a lot of untapped potential in the adult business. Most segments are still not in the mainstream. There is still not a lot of high tech in the market. And then I started looking into sex toys again. As before working for the dating company I worked as a PR guy for Fun Factory at some point. And I thought it would be interesting to do something in this area.
And then one night I had sex with my partner. And we were just wondering: »I wonder how many calories we burnt.« And I was like there must be a sex toy or an app that will tell you this. And I started looking and couldn’t find anything. So I did more and more research and talked to some sexologists. And they said that if I put some sensors in a sex toy I might actually be able to say much more than just the number of burnt calories. And that’s what we are doing right now. We are collecting the data from the sensors.
And I believed in this idea. So I spent all my life’s savings on the first version. Then I got a little investment from investors.
VENUS: Did you use crowdfunding?
Jakub Konik: We also did crowdfunding but it was only a small amount. We collected $40,000 but we were aiming for $100,000. And the reason why it didn’t work out was that back then we didn’t have enough funds for marketing. I spent my last personal money on a video. And we went to the press. The press did pick it up, that’s why we got the $40,000. But once the articles started dropping from the websites the amount of money collected and the traffic shrunk. But because of the fame, we were able to achieve through the good press attention our company caught the interest of the investors. So we got an investment.
VENUS: The general environment for sex toy companies has become more favorable in recent years. And that’s also showing with investors’ interest, right?
Jakub Konik: It’s getting better but it’s still an issue. Investors are still shy about it. Some of them don’t want to invest in companies from the industry. But it’s indeed getting better. Sex health, sex-tech and sex toys in general get more and more attention from investors. There was a huge investment in a company called Unbound. I think it’s a great time to be in the industry because it is getting more and more mainstream. The society is more and more open about our industry.
And there is also more value in the products now. Before you only had vibrating silicon but now there is a lot of technology involved. The toys become more sophisticated each year. Not only vibration and better performance but also enhanced experiences with your partner.
VENUS: How much do mainstream media outlets help in building a brand like yours?
Jakub Konik: They do help a lot. As we are not a usual sex toy it is easier to get mainstream media to write about us. And it always brings new people that might not buy your product directly but they get educated about these things, they start to know what’s out there.
VENUS: Do these magazines approach you on their own or do you have to lobby or invest a lot to get their attention?
Jakub Konik: Actually most of the time they reach out to us than the other way around. I think that’s because of the uniqueness of the product. And of course, because we were new. We are on the market for 2 years now, so they will not write about us that often in the future. We will have to reach out more.
VENUS: This means you constantly need new products as well, I suppose, to keep up the interest.
Jakub Konik: That’s of course right. Our first product was released in January 2017. And we have a brand new product now this autumn showcasing on erofame and here at VENUS.
But right now we are mainly looking for new business partners and so if retailers or distributors are looking for something else than just another vibrating toy please reach out to us, we are happy to work with partners from all over Europe.
VENUS: Thank you for talking to us.
If you want to know more about Lovely click here.