Earlier this week, a few pieces of sex-tech were represented at TechCrunch Disrupt for only the second time since the first conference in 2011 (unless you count Titstare’s infamous 2013 debut). The conference took place in New York this past Monday through Wednesday. PlsPlsMe, an app for uncovering users’ yet unearthed sexual preferences, and a vibrating insertable called Crescendo both had busy tables at the event.
Five years in the making by new UK based adult toy startup MysteryVibe, Crescendo is the first sex toy that comes (already made) fully customizable. The sleek, elegant vibrator–currently being showcased in its beta form–bends and extends with the help of an internal mechanism functioning much like a spine. The soft thermoplastic model runs on six different motors that can pinpoint or distribute vibrations almost anywhere on the toy. Its flexibility allows it to reach internal points like g-spots while simultaneously stimulating external areas such as the clitoris.
For a tech conference mainly dominated by male-centric products and, um, people, Disrupt featuring a sex toy designed exclusively for women is a pretty big deal. And according to MysteryVibe CEO, Soumyadip Rakshit, the fact that this year’s Disrupt conference was roughly “80% male” did not stop the Crescendo table from getting lots of traffic. “We wanted to make it elegant and classy, but fun,” Rakshit conveyed to me over breakfast.
And as MysteryVibe’s early awareness campaign through Thunderclap demonstrated, it certainly appears as though they are succeeding. Within 48 hours of launching, Crescendo reached their 20% mark. Not only did they make the front page in their category only one week in, but fully achieved their supporter goal two weeks later.
The startup’s rapidly growing popularity in both the tech and consumer world likely has to do with their extensive process of reviewing and improving. Five years after its conception, MysteryVibe is still actively seeking and receiving feedback from its test users. “It’s not difficult to get them to talk,” says Rakshit, who measures so many females’ willingness to help improve this product as proof that a personalized yet affordable toy like Crescendo is in demand.
The continuous implementation of user feedback accounts for Crescendo’s constantly evolving hardware. MysteryVibe’s initial idea to “make something that bends and takes the shape of your body” is the only construct former Durex designers were given when embarking on a prototype. Since then, the material of Crescendo’s inner spine has changed multiple times, and is about to be swapped out again for something slightly more rigid. This revision is in direct response to recently gathered user feedback, of which the consensus is that females tend to move a lot during orgasm, and need a toy that will stay in place throughout climax.
MysteryVibe’s high level of transparency throughout the production of Crescendo is effectively keeping early buyers engaged, and helps make them feel more involved in the making of a toy that is highly personal. And it certainly aids efforts in building anticipation for the product’s future release date.
“There is complexity [to the product], but it is all hidden under a very simple, beautiful surprise.” Technology is implemented thoughtfully into Crescendo’s hardware, rather than “packing in a lot of tech for tech’s sake,” which Rakshit is aware would only appeal to a niche audience. MysteryVibe aims to appeal to a much broader buyer group–“all people,” to be exact.
People have been the center of Crescendo’s production since conception, and continue being so in every way possible–down to the packaging.
MysteryVibe has teamed up with sensory branding experts Condiment Junkie to create a complete olfactory experience embedded seamlessly into the box that Crescendo will be sold in. The “thank you” note inserted into each product’s box will provide a waft of what may remind some of the classic Chanel N° 5.
The aroma of Crescendo’s packaging is just one part of the vision that MysteryVibe hopes to manifest for buyers. Rakshit imagines a bedroom experience that is isolated from the stresses of everyday life, one that fully encompasses all senses and consumes to the point of forgetfulness. But he is well aware that this is not the reality for most adults trying to maintain a healthy sex life. Instead of relying on environmental circumstances to create a setting conducive for lust, Rakshit is focusing on minute details that trigger internal intimacy switches. “The head is the sex organ. If you can switch that on whenever you want it to…well, that’s the empowerment.”
Every decision that bumps Crescendo into its next level of production is made with one common end goal in mind: to create a seamless and satisfying sexual experience.
But pleasing consumers isn’t MysteryVibe’s only agenda.
Rakshit is aware of the limited resources many adult startups have as far as finance and production are concerned, and prides himself on creating one that “does things other companies can replicate.” From the crowdfunding sources to the investors they choose to work with, MysteryVibe makes a conscientious effort to harness connections with organizations that may not have previously worked with a sex related business. “If we can open the path, then everyone else can benefit from it.”
One of those paths is BORN.com, Europe’s luxury crowdfunding platform. Crescendo marks the first sex toy ever to be featured on the site, not to mention on their carefully curated Belles Creations award list. Soum views this relationship as a door for possible future partnerships between other sex related corporations and BORN.
And MysteryVibe isn’t pioneering for the sake of it. They hope that other sex related startups will follow their example and pursuit working with more mainstream corporations regardless of their histories with adult businesses. “That’s what we want to do–we don’t want to take over the world.”
But they do hope to make it more adult friendly.