Digital transformation and major tech breakthroughs are, in many ways, about facilitating an easier, happier life. To that end, there has been an emergence of startups and innovations dedicated to improving human sexual experiences, understanding and awareness – sextech.
Sextech is about more than enhancing experiences and pleasure, it’s also about educating society on this crucial part of their health and wellbeing. Given the fact that talking about sex, sexual health and wellbeing are still taboo – especially for women and LGBTQ+ communities – startups are now paving the way to break down barriers and bring the discussion into safer, more open spaces. Sextech is helping to disrupt socially prevailing feelings of shame, embarrassment and guilt around sex, making it a topic that people feel more comfortable and educated to discuss.
From enjoying and enhancing sexual experiences to awareness about sexual issues, and even offering support for traumatic and abusive experiences – sextech is an important sector in the health and wellbeing space. Innovation and tech are helping to positively impact how we think about and behave around sex. Not only that, but it’s a massively growing multi-billion euro market, ripe with potential and opportunity, as well as a real chance to positively impact lives.
Here, we highlight 10 European startups breaking down barriers, making sextech mainstream and enhancing health and wellbeing for all.
Remi Health – Based in Berlin, Remi Health is a fully digital end-to-end clinic for urology and gynaecology. It was founded in 2021 and is growing fast. The startup is on a mission to make STI testing accessible to everyone – regardless of who they are, regardless of their sexual preferences, and regardless of their experiences. It offers laboratory-certified at-home STI Test kits, enabling people to take their sexual health into their own hands, without any feelings of anxiety or shame. People can simply order a kit to be delivered to their home (it’s packaged with discretion in mind), follow the easy sample instructions and then send back the kit. Results are then received via a REMI account with health experts on hand to give any advice needed. Getting STI tested should be a routine procedure for those who are sexually active, yet it remains something neglected – often due to feelings of shame or inaccessibility. Remi is making it easy, boosting overall health and improving lifestyle choices.
iPlaySafe – The iPlaySafe app is a startup leveraging technology to improve awareness around the importance of sexual health testing and status. Founded in 2019, the London-based startup integrates tech into STI testing to give users the option to share their status badges with others in a secure medical grade platform. It’s about driving transparency around STIs, reducing the shame and embarrassment that sexual health and testing are associated with and ultimately reducing the number of STIs worldwide by promoting more openness. Users of the app are sent a discreetly packaged checkup box direct to their door. Having collected their sample at their leisure, they return it to the lab using the prepaid shipping label provided. Within two to five days, results are securely sent to their iPlaySafe App® dashboard and they are free to share this information; if, when and with whom they choose.
LVNDR Health – Based out of London, LVNDR is a digital healthtech platform that is working to improve sexual wellbeing for LGBTQ+ individuals and modernises existing healthcare options. Founded in 2020, the startup is bringing a much-needed tool to a community that is far underserved in the sexual wellbeing space. Sexual wellbeing, in general, is underserved, and there generally isn’t enough openness and transparency – for the LGBTQ+ community, there is enhanced marginalisation and exclusion. LVNDR is addressing this and using a tech-first purpose-driven approach. LVNDR facilitates access to remote care and empowers users to take control of their health, giving them access to tailored services and features. In 2021, the growing team picked up €1.7 million as part of its vision to reduce social inequalities in healthcare services – starting with sexual health and gender identity care. It also earned its way onto our list featuring EU European startups serving the LGBTQ+ community for its impact-driven approach.
Kama – Founded in 2017, Kama is a sexual wellness platform, promoting the science-backed idea that sexual pleasure is health. The London-based startup takes a different approach to wellness and mental wellbeing, advocating that pleasure should be at the forefront of the experience and the priority when it comes to tackling stress – regardless of an individual’s background, sexual preferences, body type, age or gender. The vision is to make sexual satisfaction a part of their everyday lives by connecting their mind, body, and heart. Stress is taking a massive toll on society and is impacting our mental health at an alarming level. Kama wants to shift the focus back to our bodies. The approach gives users a simple daily practice, designed by in-house experts, it combines scientific learnings around neuroplasticity with psychosexual therapy, somatic awareness, and ancient wisdom. The startup has now raised about €3 million.
Beducated – Founded in 2018 by Mariah Freya and Phil Steinweber, Beducated has been described as the Netflix of sexual education. The Munich-based startup offers premium online courses that provide a tasteful, contemporary learning experience to light up bedrooms across the globe. We chatted to the couple co-founders in 2020 and they also joined us on our podcast in 2021 to discuss the future of sextech and the importance of breaking down barriers. Beducatd has been one of the pioneers in the sextech space and has taken a revolutionary approach to online sexual education. The platform offers first-class online courses about mindful sex and relationships and delivers them straight into bedrooms all around the world. Now, the startup has empowered individuals with educational content in over 110 countries.
The Lowdown – Founded in 2019 in London, The Lowdown is addressing a major gender gap in health – female contraception. Its contraception review, advice and prescriptions platform is aiming to make women’s health less of a minefield – making it more accessible and empowering women to access the best contraceptive options for them. It provides educational content, giving women the lowdown on everything contraception – from the potential side effects to painful periods – and it all comes from a medical team. Too often women struggle to get access to the most appropriate contraceptives, – an experience shared by founder Alice. Contraception has an immense impact on women – their weight, periods, sex drive and skin (to name but a few). Lowdown has been built as the one-stop-shop to give women the ability to choose, access and use the right health care for them.
Hanx – Founded in 2017 by two best friends Farah Kabir and Dr Sarah Welsh, HANX is on a mission to smash the stigma around sexual health, championing intimate wellness and encouraging more open conversations. The London-based ecommerce startup has created a range of products that prioritize wellbeing and sustainability – bringing people better experiences through better products. The company takes a sex-positive and anti-awkward approach to the contraception conversation, to encourage people to take it more seriously, and to use cont5aceptives and sexual wellness products that are gynae-designed, stigma-free and free from nasty chemicals. HANX also offers subscription options to its products which include contraceptives and intimate care items.
MYHIXEL – Based in Seville, MYHIXEL is a sextech brand focused on male intimate wellness. Sexual wellness and opening up the conversation is one that both men and women need to participate in. While women have historically been shut out of the health space in general, men are also lacking access to quality education on wellness in this sphere. MYHIXEL wants to change this. It’s estimated that about 1 in 10 men has a sex-related issue – but only 20% of men with concerns or problems actually seek help or support. MYHIXEL offers an online sexual health clinic for men, offering a safe and discreet platform for men to have this important conversation. Members have access to sexual wellbeing experts, who provide help in three core areas – clinical consultation, sexual coaching and nutrition & fitness. The startup was founded by Patricia López in 2017.
Mojo – Founded in 2017, Mojo is empowering people to manage their fertility proactively, breaking down what can be a very vulnerable and overwhelming topic and giving people the tools to take control. The London-based startup has developed an online fertility care platform that helps users to test, understand and improve their fertility so they can make the most appropriate family-planning decisions. There are plenty of apps helping women to track their fertility cycle, Mojo stands out as it helps men test their sperm – tackling the taboo around male fertility issues. The at-home test allows sperm to be tested discretely and in a more comfortable scenario. Users book a courier to come and pick up the sample – they are given a specific time window – and results are provided within 48 hours. The team advises that they are there to lend a helping hand every step of the way (minus the actual sperm collection) and fertility experts will explain the results in detail as well as provide a detailed and personalized plan to improve sperm standards.
Emjoy – Based in Barcelona, Emjoy was founded in 2019 with the vision to normalize female sexual pleasure. The startup earned its way onto our list of Barcelona-based startups to watch in 2021 and has since gone on to feature on our podcast. Emjoy’s mission is to close the gap in sexual empowerment, enabling women to discover their bodies and (re) gain confidence in their sex lives. The platform has a library of over 600 audio sessions and stories, developed by in-house sex therapists and sexual wellbeing experts. It’s all about normalizing female pleasure one audio at a time, with no-frills, real facts and real fun.
‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort