“Why do sex toys cost so much?”
“Why is that product that price?”
“Can’t you sell it for cheaper?”
Since Lora DiCarlo’s founding in 2017, we’ve just about heard it all. As a sextech company that innovates new types of toys and ones that are more anatomically accurate, people always have questions about how we run our company and how we push boundaries.
And, to be fair — sextech can be expensive. We’re not saying it isn’t. But there’s a reason why highly engineered pleasure devices cost more than cheap sex toys made by cisgender men and hawked online without any sex education, sexual wellness information or otherwise empowering movements.
“Owners of sextech companies can actually educate our community,” founder Lora Haddock says. “I see that as a privilege.”
In the spirit of educating folks about sextech, let’s get nitty gritty and talk about just why sextech is often pricey.
Not your mama’s vibrator: We're pushing boundaries through research and technology
Our premier device, the original Osé, was inspired by the experience and persistence of our founder and CEO, Lora Haddock DiCarlo, and developed in partnership with Oregon State University's Robotics & Engineering Lab. Lora forged a partnership with OSU’s lab and after three years of physiological research based on anatomical data from thousands of women, as well as biomimicry analysis of female orgasms, Lora realized a successful blended orgasm product would require the use of new technology. So we made one of the best sex toys for women—or anyone with a vulva!
Things really got hot when we won a coveted robotics innovation award from the Consumer Technology Association. When the award was rescinded (what?!), it kickstarted a critical public conversation about gender equity in tech and the right to pleasure for all people. We’ve grown from zero revenue in 2019 to $7.5M in our first year of business and launched 11 new products in the last 12 months... and we're just getting started.
Lora DiCarlo has been about research, understanding and engineering from the very beginning. The original Osé and Osé 2 have nine patents pending for innovations in biomimicry, micro-robotics, material science, and miniaturization and have received accolades from the Consumer Electronics Show, TIME, IHS Markit Innovations, Popular Mechanics, and more.
That amount of research, teamwork, and engineering takes a lot of time and a lot of money, as you can imagine. When you’re creating something that didn’t exist before, it requires quite the investment!
The people behind the product
Speaking of engineering… Have you heard about our amazing team of engineers? Our purpose is to help create a sexually equitable world where everyone has thoughtful tools for their path to pleasure. That requires a team of talented, smart and dedicated people. Enter: our engineers!
Our engineers regularly publish TIRDs. Yes, you read it right—TIRDs. T.I.R.D. is a funny internal name for Technical Innovation Research Development. It's our team’s research and product ideas put into papers we can share with our team, and use to make new products or publish studies. Lora DiCarlo also provides $1,000 per employee per year for their research projects. We encourage our team to aim higher however we can!
Because of our engineers’ hard work, we were recently named a Fast Company Innovative Team of the Year finalist. Mazie Houchens, Blake Larkin, Ryan Riehl, and Avery Smith — our super-talented engineers, technicians, and industrial designers — made the list of a half-dozen finalists, and we’re so proud of their work. We were so honored to place alongside talented, hard-working groups like Johns Hopkins, Genpact, and One Trust.
In addition to collecting accolades, our engineers show up in top industry publications while writing about their work. In 2020, Avery Smith published a paper in Xbiz describing the medical bias and misrepresentation in sexual wellness, and how that blocks innovation. The best vibrator is the one that understands the vagina and clitoris intimately, and you can imagine that innovation and creation takes a lot of work!
How can I support sextech?
If you’re wondering how you can support sextech and our efforts to research the ultimate in pleasure devices, there’s good news! Here are a few ways to support or get involved with the sextech industry.
- Do your research and buy the best vibrator for you. Whether you purchase a Lora DiCarlo product or not, it’s important to understand your own body and sexual preferences. Do you want something that heats up, or not? Do you want a powerful vibrator or something with a subtler, gentler approach? Do you want to try a dual stimulator that offers both clitoral and G-spot stim at the same time, like our Osé 2 featured below? Whatever floats your boat, be sure to own it and make the right purchasing decisions.
- Stand up and speak out. There are a LOT of inequities when it comes to pleasure (hello, porn that shows women being uncomfortably railed in crazy positions with no foreplay?) One of the best things you can do for yourself is to let your friends know the buck stops with you. You can find examples of social media hashtags and challenges our founder Lora DiCarlo has shared, like this one about masturbation awareness, or this shareable quote about sexual inequity. Whatever it is you care about, speak up and get loud!
Now that you better understand why sextech is both innovative and oftentimes expensive, we encourage you to do something about it! Hey, the lowest-hanging fruit is to have a power-packed orgasm with yourself or a partner tonight. Who says activism has to be all hard work?