My new favorite cello piece, listening on repeat.
For the past few years I’ve had to juggle two startup companies, MiKandi.com and my OEM/ODM sex toy business. They are completely separate products, but as I mentioned in a previous post about designing sex products, both share similarities with product development. With sex toys, we focused on “affordable luxury” brands and with MiKandi, we curate the highest quality adult apps. Both are consumer brands catering to adults only and as an entrepreneur it’s been exciting to develop these two unique brands of products that are on the edge of mainstream and get people’s attention.
It’s also been extremely challenging and a valuable learning experience to manage and lead different teams in different parts of the world. Three years ago we decided to spend a few months in China to get a major sex toy contract off the ground, but ended up living in China for most of the next two years. We traveled back and forth from China, Hong Kong and Seattle, attended as many trade shows as possible and spent endless overnighters to keep up with it all.
But just as the sex toy industry was taking off and becoming more mainstream, MiKandi (and especially Android) was growing even faster. And when a market grows that fast, you have to move fast with it and seize the moment. As an adult company, we don’t have access to the same funding and venture money as our mainstream counterparts, so bootstrapping is our only option. We have to generate revenue and pay our own bills. It was a struggle to maintain the resources and get the proper support to build two companies at the same time. So in the end, I knew I had to make a decision. As all entrepreneur knows, letting go of your company is extremely difficult. You put your heart and soul into it and it literally becomes part of your identity. But as I begin to think about where I want to be in ten years, my decision became more clear. I had spent 8 years in the manufacturing industry and was ready to try something new. Manufacturing is a long term business and it can take years before a product hits the market. In contrast, we’re able to build prototypes and launch new products in a weekend coding challenge. I was addicted to this faster pace of development. I was falling in love with code and loved the blend of science and art to create beautiful and useful applications. I was hooked. MiKandi won.
It was a rough transition, but we moved on fast and hit the ground running once we returned to the states. That laser focus on building one company is paying off now as it first did when I started my sex toy company. I have a lot more experience behind me, but mobile moves so fast that every day is exciting and fresh. One day I may combine my talents in hardware and software, but until then MiKandi is my baby and it’s going to kick ass!
that was awesome. How cool would it be to see this style of animation used in a Battlechasers animated movie?
Between designing and manufacturing sex toys and building the World’s first Adult App
Store Market, the past two years have been incredibly exciting, scary and rewarding at the same time. Compared to the mobile app world, the manufacturing world can feel very old school sometimes. I deal with raw materials, mechanical components, tangible gadgets and prototypes that I can craft with my hands and tools. Whereas with MiKandi, the entire product is delivered, experienced and enjoyed online. At first the transition from adult retail goods to adult digital goods, seemed like a giant step away from my resume. My friends and family sometimes would ask how I can be so obsessed with two seemingly different businesses and take on the 14 hour days that it takes to keep things moving and not get burned out. But I soon realized that the skills I’ve developed building our sex toy OEM/ODM business has prepared me more than I ever expected in building adult mobile products. That’s because both businesses revolve around the same passion I have for making products that improve your sex life and satisfy our deep need for pleasure. So as I look back on the success of MiKandi’s first two years, the saying “do what you love and you’ll be successful” is exactly what it’s all about.
For over 7 years, I’ve been focusing on making sex toys approachable and more mainstream. I’ve been obsessed with designing these products that are essentially on the edge, that deal with sex, your sexuality and generally things many people are uncomfortable talking about with their partners or even to themselves. How do you design something that helps eliminate some of those barriers, inspires people to open up and explore new sensations? Which designs will deliver a better first time experience and instill confidence in the user, which during such intimate moments, is absolutely critical? What makes this texture or that shape more pleasurable than the other? How do you make this feel more natural, more instinctive? How do we take advantage of the latest technology to deliver these types of experiences in a positive way? What’s the story behind this sex toy design and why does it matter?
These are the fundamental questions that drive our business. And in the process of figuring out the solutions, I’ve learned so much about product design and development, but more importantly how to find the answers. I’ve surrounded myself with an amazing team of engineers, designers, artists, marketing experts and fellow entrepreneurs to aid in our quest to deliver the best products possible.
Our approach to building the MiKandi product complements this in a beautiful way. In a world that constantly censors and considers sex taboo, we decided that the MiKandi brand is a reminder that we’re all adults here. That we all have our deep desires and want to explore our sex lives and be treated like adults along the way. Therefore, in building the MiKandi product, similar questions apply. How do you design the product so that it’s easy to talk about? What matters most when experiencing our services for the first time? What are people finding most pleasurable? What technologies do we focus on to deliver the best experience possible? How should we design the product to adapt to each user and resonate with their unique adult desires?
To find these answers, the MiKandi Team is comprised of software engineers vs mechanical/electrical engineers, but I now see that it all stems from the same passions and dreams. Being “obsessed with sex products” has done me good.
To celebrate the launch of our newly designed MiKandi App Store For Adults:
If you haven’t picked up your instrument in awhile it can become more frustrating than relaxing to be so rusty and not at your peak performance…
Then you watch these videos and remember that it’s more about playing genuinely than perfectly that makes it so much fun to share music with others.