In order to progress a design from concept to commercialised product, funding is required. The great part about the Converge kickstart challenge is that it includes training and support as well as funding. Also all unsucessful applications are expected to receive feedback on how to improve. As such I decided to submit an application form. The following is what I submitted (along with images and videos already produced up to this point as part of this project).
Non-confidential summary (100 words)
• Please provide a brief summary of your idea for an innovative new product/service.
During the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of thought and care has been put into protecting our physical health by remaining at a distance. But there is little to no consideration to sexual health. Contactfull is a pair of adult toys and a corresponding mobile app designed for distanced lovers. Perfect for getting through lockdown times, but also for couples in long distance relationships, or who’s partners are away often. An award-winning discrete design that changes shape to your preference and are fully responsive to each other. This is as close to being together you can get while being apart.
• Please provide your business description in 280 characters, in the style of a Tweet.
Creators of the vibrator, stimulator and pleasure app that makes being apart – feel like being together. When you move, you and your partner feel the mind-blowing, shape-changing, responsive, award-winning design. Plus, we love to give you tips and advice to help you get that Contactfull feeling. It’s a pleasure to meet you.
Your Business proposition (500 words)
- Describe your idea for a product/service • Describe the problem your idea solves • How is your idea innovative?
- What stage of development is your idea? (e.g., concept stage, prototype stage)
- How will you prevent others from copying your idea?
- How would this idea make money?
- Please provide details of any previous funding/investment received
Contactfull is a pair of adult toys (or pleasure devices) and a corresponding mobile application. Designed to help couples feel together when they are apart. Born from the pandemic – this product can also be used for couples who are in long-distance relationships, or with partners who are away on business. There are many products on the market for pleasure, none with all the Contactfull distinctive features.
There are two models, i and e. Model i is designed for both internal and external stimulation. Model i changes its overall shape based on preference and resets to a discrete shape after use. The model e device is designed for external use as a stimulator. Unlike others, the design has a silicone surround for a soft hold feeling.
The toys can be controlled remotely through the app or manually with a variety of vibration and pressure modes. The main feature of the app is the facilitation of bidirectional control; when one partner moves their device, the paired device responds and vice versa. Model i vibrates in response to the e’s motion. The model e’s internal design changes shape based on preference and is fully responsive. For example, when you squeeze on the model i (like when doing Kegels) the internal design of the model e also squeezes. Connect your device to the app, then it connects to your partner’s app and device – and you are off to the races.
Visually the toys are approachable, not phallic, with no crazy bright pink colours, or unsuccessful attempts to disguise as a flashlight. The news story that broke around the world about the woman in wales who appeared on the BBC with her lifelike dildo in the background would not have been the same if she owned this product.
Contactfull is currently at the concept stage. The conceptual design has won the 2020 youFab creative design Finalist Award and is now ready to be developed into a functioning prototype and business.
While this product came from a problem-solving basis rather than a money-making concept, it would make money in two simple ways. The toys themselves would be available to purchase individually and as a pair. The app is not just the method in which the toys connect to each other and are controlled, it is also full of fantastic content. Basic access to this content including; digital date night ideas and reminders, games and pleasure suggestions, communication and relationship advice, is included in the purchase of a toy (or pair). Premium content would be available as an upgrade within the app for a small subscription fee.
I am working with the Bright Red Triangle at Edinburgh Napier University. I have full intellectual rights as no lecturers were actively involved in the concept creation. Products of this type are often patented to protect the technology/design, which is an option. Additionally, the visual design, branding and app design can all be looked at for copyright protection.
This project has received no funding or investment to date.
Your Customers (250 words)
- Who is likely to buy your product/service?
- How have you interacted with your potential customers?
- How will you get your product/service to your customers?
The global sex toy market was estimated at £24.3 Billion in 2020 with an estimated annual growth rate of 8%. So, while there are lots of manufactures – there is lots of business. Both men and women purchase these products, with the growth in the market largely attributed to female empowerment. To some surprise, the market is very much dominated by couples, with 70% of Lovehoney’s customers saying they are in a long-term relationship. When WeVibe came out in 2003 it took off. They now have a wide range of toys, including remote control and app control (We-Connect) but no pairs of toys that work together responding to each other in some way.
I have spoken with a few people in the target demographic (women 20’s-30’s) with positive responses (even including one former phone sex worker). Further market research in terms of pricing and likelihood of purchase is required. After further research, an initial launch on a crowdfunding site such as Kickstarter would not only produce funds but valuable consumer data and feedback.
After crowdfunding, the purchase of this product would be available direct to the consumer through a dedicated website. It could also be sold through other retailers, however, it is important for the brand that these are not sold under the normal idea of ‘novelty items. It is designed as a response to the importance of sexual health, relationships and self care – so selling alongside high-end skincare, candles and other self-care/health/wellness items would support the brand.
Resource Planning (250 words)
- What do you hope to achieve in the next 12 months to develop your business idea?
- In which areas do you need support to meet your 12-month plan?
- How much money do you think you need to get your idea to the next stage of development? (e.g., from concept to first prototype; from prototype to minimum viable product)
- What skills/team do you need to turn your idea into a business?
- What other resources will you need to develop your plan? (e.g., lab access, equipment, software, etc.)
In the next 12 months, I plan to develop this concept into a commercialized product that people are buying.
I am the sole founder, a Product Design student and former analyst (sales, process improvement, project & asset work). I have some personal connections I can tap into for support (eg. accountancy and data analysis), but I will need more than this to reach my 12-month plan.
I will need support with; finding funding, further market research, product/manufacturing engineering, marketing/PR, and expert content creation. The roles my team needs; software developer, manufacturing engineer, marketing manager, content creator (sexual health expert).
While some of the technology required exists, this product will still require extensive development. I aim to work with a local manufacturer, which will have a higher cost than overseas but will allow for greater control over quality. I need £9,000 to get from the current concept to the next major stage in the project. This will cover materials and expert engineering advice to create initial working prototypes of the two products and the app. It will also cover initial consultant hours for both an expert sexual health consultant and a PR consultant. These initial hours will support the creation of content for the development of an Instagram & Facebook community. The community will help inform market viability of this product, create hype prior to launch and help develop a list of real potential customers. The content in the community forums will be developed into content included in the final app.
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