Girl power continues on Vancity Entrepreneurs as another female entrepreneur steps up to the plate after last weeks fashionable UBC student duo. Meet Kimberly Kaplan, a very active Vancouver entrepreneur and no stranger to mixing love and the internet. One of her past business development roles was essential to the growth of a Vancouver-born company, and currently, the largest online dating site in the world; Plentyoffish.com (POF). Kim lets our imaginations run wild as she puts an edge to this weeks feature with Luvmybox, a daring new startup leveraging the sex toys industry.
1. You guys have an interesting name, what inspired that? Tell us about your business/core idea and how it got started.
Honestly, picking a company name was driven from what was available on GoDaddy! Being an online company, having the right domain really drives the creative process. I knew I wanted something that was memorable, but cheeky! The moment I stumbled across the name the whole business was born! It makes you laugh, peaks your curiosity and hopefully entices you to share it with friends. And of course the jokes around the office are endless.
Luvmybox is a monthly subscription service that focuses on sexy time. Each month we curate a themed box that’s filled with brand names products. September’s box was themed ’50 Shades of Grey’ and I’m currently working on a ‘Moulin Rouge’ themed box. Part of the thrill is that the customers don’t know what they’ll be receiving, so when the box arrives opening it is just as much fun as using what’s inside! I do want to note that the boxes vary in degrees of risque, but ultimately revolve around the idea of trying something new and adding some spice to the bedroom!
As for the idea itself, it emerged from the growth of subscription e-commerce sites such as Glossybox and the popularity of the book Fifty Shades of Grey. We took a proven business model, focused on an ever growing industry (sex sells) and peoples interest started to grow.
2. How big is the market for sex toys in Vancouver? Is this a new happening trend that Vancouverites should be aware of?
The sex toy industry is an $8 billion dollar market across North America and that number is rising fast! There are at least a dozen sex stores in Vancouver alone, although most people won’t admit to ever visiting one! After the success of 50 Shades of Grey there has been a resurgance of sales as people are becoming more inclined to explore their sexuality. One distributor noted that certain products have seen a 100 fold increase in sales since the book’s popularity grew. Christian Grey somehow made it okay to talk to your friends and partner about trying something new and getting a bit kinky.
The biggest comment I got when we were researching the business is that a lot of people didn’t know where to start when it comes to purchasing sexy items or didn’t want to visit the stores. This is where Luvmybox helps out.
3. In what directions do you see Luvmybox evolving as you build your audience?
At this point the most important thing is listening to the customers and evolving as quickly as possible. The company is so new that we’re still defining our audience and what direction we will take the company.
4. What are some of the stigmas or questions (if any) you face when people hear that you’re in the sex toy industry? Are consumers hesitant about someone else stumbling upon a box of sex toys delivered to their doorstep every month?
There’s always a good laugh and dinner conversations with my parents have gotten a bit interesting! Really though, it’s a mixed bag. Some people view the industry as still being taboo and don’t see the appeal. I’ve had a number of people with whom I respect tell me I’m crazy, but then there are others who understand the market place, see where this industry can go and get excited about my vision. I think with any business you’re going to have naysayers – as long as you believe in the idea and drive forward that’s all that matters.
One major point I try to bring up is that we really focus on the idea of romance, we’re not just about sex toys. We want to bring that spark back into the bedroom and who doesn’t want that! We try to nurture romantic gestures as well as introduce some kinkier items.
In regards to shipping, being discreet is an important element, none of our packaging is marked so people won’t know who the box is from! Once you open it though, we’re not responsible for what happens or where you leave it!
5. How does this improve the city of Vancouver? What is the real world problem you’re solving?
We’re helping couples try something new by adding a bit of spice to the regular routine! There was a great article recently that shared how 89% of couples are open to using sex toys but only 40% of women have used one. That’s a lot of interested Vancouverites that are yet to try it out!
6. What’s your advice for current or future entrepreneurs?
Execution is just as important as the idea! Build something quick, lean and then start testing it. Chances are what you set out to build won’t be your final product so be ready to adapt!
Talk about finding a niche and going against the grain! It’s quite easy to overlook significant opportunities and industries like these when society puts so much of the spotlight on social networking and other tech-savvy ventures. Entrepreneurship is all about steering aside criticism and sticking with ones vision. As the world becomes more and more open and ideas are spread quicker, it becomes easier for startups to make a splash and grab peoples attention, especially if it revolves around the world of sex.
Stay in touch @pauldavidescu
*Vancity Entrepreneurs is a weekly feature on the city’s most notable entrepreneurs or startups that are making Vancouver a better place. If you think your venture deserves to be on the series, send [email protected] an email explaining why*