Never has an established tech conference, or any tech conference welcomed a SxTech conference into their programming. Of course, since 2019, CES (consumer technology association) has been cautiously opening the floor to a selection of sxtech companies, embedded into the overall Health and Wellness category, shoved into a far-off corner. But this was different.
SxTech.eu was returning for its 3rd annual conference in 2021 with an exciting debut at the forward-thinking, 14th edition of the global tech conference, Wolves Summit, in Wroclaw, Poland, where SxTech.eu puts Sexual Wellness and Education front and center. This was not simply a couple of tables set out for a handful of sex tech companies. This was a full-day agenda with twenty speakers, case studies, panel discussions, lively Q&As, a beautifully delivered keynote, and a SexTech startup pitch competition where the two finalists were fast-tracked to the Wolves Summit Grand Pitch Competition.
What does this say about the SexTech, Sexual Wellness, and Education industry? It’s not as taboo as once thought. We are in the normalization process and smack in the middle of a sexual revolution. The day was fully vibing and the Wolves Summit attendees were very curious, always popping their heads in to see our stage. Sometimes having the guts to come in and sit down.
During networking sessions, my eyes were opened wide when I spoke about SexTech. People love it; they are simply looking for permission to express it. Ironically, the SxTech talks, panels, and Q&A were more about business, economics, marketing, and entrepreneurial journeys, just like all other conferences. The key difference? Not only are the products and the people behind the business far more exciting (literally) but we are talking about companies with global impact (literally).
The Lay of the Day
The sun was shining, and the weather was crisp. There was anticipation in the air. Old friends reunite and new friendships flourish. We were a mere ten percent of the attendees, but there was a beautiful and salient distinction. To start, I had the honor of joining the CEO and Founder of SxTech.eu Ola Miedzynska on stage to open the conference.
We took the opportunity to discuss two extremely important topics. The first is that investors would be well advised to start taking sex tech companies seriously, as investable opportunities (37 Billion by 2023!) and get rid of the “vice” clause most have set in place by, well, old white men who fear female bodies. Second, given the context in Poland, Ola was determined to ensure the LGBTQ2+ community that they are heard, they are visible, and welcomed in the SexTech community.
The day continued with talks by the CEO of imbersharam, Raj Armani who spoke about e-commerce, the struggles the SexTech community faces in terms of payment systems, and how to navigate that. Next were two lovely blokes from the UK, Gary & Mark Ayckbourn from CTO Collective who outlined their journey to becoming one of the world’s foremost and most respected sexual wellness manufacturers.
The following presentation was by world-renowned CEO & Co-Founder Soumyadip Rakshit, at MysteryVibe, who shared his journey of building MysteryVibe and spoke about the hurdles one faces when putting a sexual wellness product through the FDA process. Paolo Davide Griffo, Manager of DanaMedic Aps, showed us a revolutionary technology for penile elongation, a dream come true for most men I imagine!
The afternoon continued with Anarella Martinez-Madrid, Founder, CEO & Producer of Sex School Hub who spoke about the challenges of working at an ‘explicit company’, followed by a panel discussion between myself and Shakun Sethi, founder of Tickle.Life where we dig into the great things about the SexTech industry, but also the dark side. Then the big guns come out with Bryony Cole, Global Speaker, Podcaster Producer, and Sextech School Founder along with Ola Miedzynska, who discussed how the landscape of the Sexual Health & Technology market is changing and what might look like in the near future.
Rounding out the afternoon was Moe Helmy, Events Director for XBIZ and Raj Armani, from ImBesharam who purport that communication and conversation are the foundations of making progress in growing the sexual wellness market followed by Angie Rowntree, Founder Sssh.com, Anna Richards, Founder, and Film Director of Frolic Me and June Ann, conceptual erotica performer & scriptwriter who jammed about creating content for fun, film, and frolicking – and making money!
To finish up the talks, the keynote speech was delivered by Dr Alexandra James, Researcher at Australian Research Centre for Sex, Health, and Society, La Trobe University Australia.
The BIG finish
I was attending the entire Wolves Summit in a dual capacity, as a Sex Writer and co-Chair of the Academic Conference on Love and Sex with Robots, but also as Venture Associate for a Tech Incubator in Canada. This afforded me the privilege of being a startup pitch finalist judge for the SexTech companies and a startup pitch finalist judge for the 14th edition of the Wolves Summit. With 1000 tech companies submitting to The Great Pitch Competition at Wolves Summit, I sat on the jury to select the two finalists from the SexTech portion that were fast-tracked to the top ten, AND I also sat on the jury to decide the top three winners of the entire Great Pitch Competition.
The six SexTech finalists for the 3rd edition of SxTech.eu were Morari Medical, ImbueVR, Pleasy Play, Afterglow, and Sexence. Of those, Please Play and Morari Medical were fast-tracked to The Great Pitch Competition. All the companies pitched well. In fact, comparatively speaking, they all pitched better than the “regular” startups.
Sextech finalists: Menage et deux
And the winner goes to……Pleasy Play!! A subscription service consisting of an interactive game with fun and sexy challenges received through a mobile app and a personalized and specially curated box of intimate products that are delivered to your doorstep every two months, to help take the heat up in your relationship.
and second place was Morari Medical: a pioneering sexual health company, using cutting-edge technology to champion male sexual confidence, control, and satisfaction. The Morari team is leveraging its 75 years of collective experience in urology and sexual health to develop a wearable device-based treatment for premature ejaculation (PE), the most prevalent male sexual dysfunction, estimated to affect 30 percent of men worldwide.
Morari is developing wearable pleasure tech that uses energy-based neuromodulation to support synchronized, sexual satisfaction for men who desire climax control. Morari envisions a world where all beings can create the climactic experience they desire and enjoy their sexuality freely with confidence, curiosity, and control.
Dreams don’t need to be wet to be amazing
Saving the best for last, who would have thought that it was possible? That a SexTech company would win the whole damn thing?
The entire SexTech community could not have imagined a better outcome. Just the fact that forward-thinking, Michael Chaffe, CEO of Wolves Summit collaborated with the CEO of SxTech.eu Ola Miedzynska is already groundbreaking by itself. But for a SexTech company to win the main prize of The Great Pitch Competition was a major triumph for the SexTech industry, and probably shocking for Wolves Summit!
I can personally attest to the spectacular pitch delivered by Ana Mikaela Silva, CEO of Pleasy Play. This pitch, her product, and her company vision were a standout and a winner, by a longshot. This company is very investable, and we shall see great things in the very near future as they are raising their next round of venture capital. As Ola Miedzynska says, “this is a victory for our entire sex tech industry, it is the moment when the boundaries between the categories of technology blur, and only the complete vision, strong product, appreciation of the genius team, and hard work matters.”
A shout out to all the participating brands: Lelo, Satisfyer, Tickle.Life, XBIZ, PleazeMe, Beducated, Ioba.Toys, Cto Collective, Sex School Hub, Lustery, Berlinable, Frolicme, Sextech School, Kiss & Tell Magazine, MysteryVibe, Morari Medical, Pleasy Play, Sexence , Male Edge, Jes-Extender, Tech Sex, Imbue VR, Afterglow, Women of Wearables, Cannavist, Beyond Delights, ETO, Kink, Love and Sex with Robots, Monogamish, and Cybrothel!