I want to make sex toys!
Welcome back! We hope you have enjoyed seeing a first glimpse at our new products and like what you see! We are working hard to get everything into full production so you can start enjoying our products in the privacy of your home! As you can imagine, the process of getting products to market is not an easy one. As glamorous as it sounds to make sex toys for a living, it’s actually quite a long, elaborate and meticulous process. But we have to start somewhere, and that somewhere is with an idea.
I like to say that all good inventions come from necessity. As you may have read in my previous post, when my wife and I were starting to think about TTC at home, we quickly realized the options were not ideal for us. Sure, there were doctors’ offices, IUI’s, IVF, turkey basters, syringes, but none of those really met OUR needs. I have always had the “entrepreneurial spirit” living inside of me. I like to think I am inherently a creative person and I express that creativity through my desire to solve problems. So, a problem presented itself and I set out to fix it.
I think the first key to creating a product is seeing if it exists anywhere else—meaning, “did someone else have this epiphany before you?” If not, then you just may be onto something! Some of the most commonly asked questions are about obtaining a patent. Is it hard to get a patent? Is it necessary to get a patent? How much does it cost? All of these are very valid questions and here’s how I would answer them: patents are very hard to obtain. They are also time consuming, expensive and not a guarantee. You may want to do a patent search before enlisting in the services of a patent lawyer. A patent search will let you see who, if anyone, has a patent or something similar that is close to your idea and that may help you decide if you are able to get one. Patents can cost anywhere from $5000-20,000, depending on how labor intensive your patent is. I have a utility patent on my products, which covers the design of it. The process to obtain this patent took me approximately 1 year, which is actually quite short. I was lucky as there were limited objections from the US Patent and Trademark Company about my design which definitely speeds up the process. Having a patent is really cool and makes you feel a little like Lori Grenier on Shark Tank, but remember, a patent is only as good as your ability to defend it. Sure, a patent is a great form of protection from others trying to copy your idea, but if someone ignores your patent anyway, you have to have the financial resources to defend your patent in court, which can be even more costly. As a small business, it can be quite challenging to incur large legal costs. Therefore, this is something you should also consider when trying to decide on whether a patent is right for you or not. I also recommend doing something called the “poor man’s patent.” When you think of your idea, write it down in as much detail as possible: drawings, designs, the works. You should date the piece of paper, have it notarized, sealed, and postmarked in an envelope. Store that envelope somewhere safe and that is your “proof” of when you came up with the idea. It’s not a replacement for a full patent from the USPTO, but for someone just beginning, it’s a place to start.
Ok, back to sex toys and how to make them. Start simple. I made my very first prototype at home and what an experience that was. Being a lesbian, I did not have immediate access to the bio male form. So, I enlisted the help of my roommate and her boyfriend to execute this. I purchased the “Clone-a-Willy” product and figured I could make a mold of a penis and try putting a tube through it. Have you ever felt wet, cold silicone? I hadn’t either and neither had this poor guy who so graciously agreed to offer his penis as my mold. The poor thing was having a “hard time” staying because of the temperature of the silicone. He also remained in the mold for a solid 10 minutes, which was no easy task. Below is a picture of my very first prototype!
After realizing that I was not going to be able to engineer a dildo in my home bathroom, I enlisted the help of an adult toy manufacturer. But let’s not forget, making things isn’t free. Before I could really bring this idea to fruition, I had to find an investor to help. Try talking about dildos to VCs and angel investors while trying to look as professional as possible. It’s not easy. Alas, after lots of dead ends and “noes,” I had piqued the interest of one person. When I emailed him to let him know my wife had gotten pregnant with a prototype, his response was, “I’m in.” It was the key piece to the puzzle that had finally fallen into place. With the investment, I was able to go into full production and bring the first product to market after 1 year. Even with investment, you would be surprised how much it costs to bring a product to market.
In short, I can tell you this: being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. It’s a lot of “noes,” being told, “you have nothing,” or, “it’s not the right time,” heartaches, headaches, and stress beyond your imagination. BUT if you are persistent and keep pushing through, when it finally happens, it makes it all the sweeter. That moment when you see your product actually helping others the way it helped you… It’s indescribable. Keep the ideas flowing; you never know what you might stumble on!
Until next time,
Steph “Spermin” Berman