Last week we interviewed two successful women entrepreneurs who "combined innovative design and app technology" to found Vibio Toys.
Let's meet them!
- Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do? Alma: Patricia and I have been friends for over 20 years (since we were in pre-school!), so we grew up together. About two years ago we decided to create Vibio, our first startup, with the idea of making untraditional sex toys that combine innovative design and app technology to encourage people to explore their sexuality.
Patricia: Our first product, Ella, is a wearable vibrator for women designed for external stimulation. Its anatomical design makes it comfortable to walk with and it's lightweight, small and discreet; breaking all stereotypes of traditional sex toys.
- When did your journey start? Alma: I always had high hopes of building a business, so after finishing my studies in Spain I decided to move to London. The startup scene here is probably the best in Europe, which makes it perfect for somebody looking to build a business.
While I was working for a tech start-up about 2 years ago, I read an article about a sex doll brothel in Bogotá to combat prostitution which sparked my curiosity about the sextech market. Learning about the potential of the industry, and being a sex toy lover, vibrators were the obvious choice as a product.
Patricia: I was visiting London around that time, so when Alma told me about her idea I absolutely loved it! I was living in Barcelona at the time but decided to quit my corporate job and move to the UK to start Vibio. We’d never really planned to work together, but the shift from friends to business partners was an easy one.
- What’s the idea behind your business?
We wanted to make great toys, but what really drives us is taking away the stigma that comes with sex. Our whole mission is to destigmatize pleasure and present it in a natural and fun way, by creating conversations around it.
What makes us different is we encourage exploration and put the emphasis on an experience which is totally shareable. Our toys can be controlled to offer a gamified element, with pleasure targets and bigger challenges available to try out in order to make sex a much greater priority in people’s lives.
- You recently launched a crowdfunding campaign, would you like to tell us more about it? Our product has a hardware and a software side to it, so it’s not an easy project to take off the ground when your funds are limited. One of the things we focused a lot on was our community, which we started growing early on with our first testers. After realising interest was growing, it made sense for us to leverage it with a pre-sales campaign.
We had seen some previous Kickstarter successes from sex toy companies, so that’s where we decided to launch Ella, our first product. It’s an app-enabled wearable vibrator for external stimulation. It’s anatomically designed to fit vulvas, so it is comfortable to wear even outside the bedroom.
- Do you have a personal life motto?
Alma: My mantra is ‘treat people like you want to be treated’.
Patricia: Sapere aude, meaning "dare to know"; or more loosely "dare to think for yourself". Seeking new ideas, embracing others’ perspectives, and being brave to change my mind is a big part of what drives my personal growth.
- What is your main struggle in being female entrepreneurs?
Being a woman in tech comes with challenges, but especially so in the adult industry. It’s harder to promote products and harder to get funding. We have come across a fair share of time-wasters, but in the end, you learn the tricks of the trade. - How do you overcome it?
In the end, it’s all about surrounding yourself with the people that truly believe in what you’re doing. Facing these challenges as women may make it more difficult but it’s all a numbers game. Go to events, network, ask people for help - believe that you can make it and put your best effort.
- What was your biggest professional achievement during your entrepreneur journey?
Being alive after all this time is already a big accomplishment for us. Closing our first round of funding was big too - it always makes a difference to have somebody believe in you and be willing to take the risk.
And finally getting to market, of course! We had a vision for the perfect toy, and we made it happen. It was great to see the positive feedback during our testing phase, and now we’re excited to see how people respond to our Kickstarter campaign. - What was your biggest personal achievement? Alma: Creating a business is something I’ve always wanted to do and I never imagined that my first project would be as complex as Vibio. I’m extremely proud of where we’ve got and can’t wait to see what the next years bring us.
Patricia: For me, it’s been the boost in confidence. Stepping out of my comfort zone, starting a business from the ground-up and growing a network from zero in a foreign country are all challenges I wasn’t necessarily prepared for, but have taught me a lot about myself.
- What is the greatest lesson you've learned from being an entrepreneur? You can never be too prepared, and you’re never prepared enough - but you learn by doing. Also, only work with people you like and respect. Life is too short!
- How do you find inspiration on an average day? Do you have any rituals?
Alma: The beauty of inspiration is that it’s everywhere, it’s all about the lenses that you see through. Articles, the woman sitting next to you on the bus, your coworkers - they are all sources of thought and wonder, you just need to make use of them.
Patricia: I like to ease myself into the day, rather than jumping straight to it. I walk about 30 minutes to get to the office, which gives me time to gather my thoughts while I listen to music (plus helps avoid the stress of London commuting). After I have my morning coffee I’m ready to go.
- Who’s the female entrepreneur or leader that you admire the most and why? There are many, but Betty Dodson is one of our heroes from our space. She’s a sex educator and pioneer of the sex-positive feminist movement - one of the biggest advocates for women's sexual pleasure and health for over four decades. She was one of the first people to highlight the importance of sexual wellbeing as a tool for women’s liberation in a time when sex was still a very controversial topic, which took a lot of balls. - How do you advertise yourself as an entrepreneur?
We try to keep our network in the loop of what we’re up to through social media, mostly Linkedin and Vibio’s Instagram. It helps attract people who love what we do and are interested in featuring us on their projects. That’s how we started being featured in articles, podcasts and speaking at industry events.
- How did social media help you to promote your business?
Social media is a tricky one for us because as a sextech company we are officially banned from advertising on Facebook or Instagram. At the beginning this was a big issue, we had our account closed down after we reached 1,000 followers and at the time we had no way to get it back.
We had to start all over again. Since then we’ve learned to use social media more strategically, but we are still at risk of being banned. Educators, sex-positive advocates and big brands all share the same issues, but we have now found ways to get around these limitations. In any case, social media has been great to help us showcase our values.
- Do you have any advice to give to the new female entrepreneurs?
Surround yourself with people who build you up, and who understand what you’re going through. Find the nearest community of entrepreneurs, learn from them and don’t be afraid to ask for support.
Thank you, Alma & Patricia!
To discover more, visit https://www.vibio.co.uk/
If you are a female entrepreneur and you want to be featured, contact us