That sentence kind of speaks for itself, doesn’t it? I mean, I could probably insert some suggestive wording from the campaign description (“People often forget that the brain is the biggest sex organ.”), mention some of the high-end rewards (100 vibrators!), embed the campaign video (which is sometimes hilarious, sometimes awkward, and often both), and call it a day.
But here’s the thing: I’m genuinely not sure whether or not this is a terrible idea. I mean, if I say “smart vibrator” (or, even worse, “Internet of Things-connected vibrator”, which is the shorthand we were using around the office) it’s easy to laugh and roll your eyes.
At the same time, I wonder if that comes from a combination of suppressed Puritanism and immaturity. If we genuinely think that everything in our lives is becoming increasingly smartphone-controlled and Internet-connected, why would we exclude sex? (Co-founder Hermione Way has argued that the Valley sometimes forces entrepreneurs to make a false choice between seriousness and sexiness.) Sure, the idea of a remote-controlled vibrator as a tool for long-distance relationships seems awkward, but is phone sex any better? Is this the future we’ve all been secretly hoping for?
For what it’s worth, Vibease has validation from other tech industry organizations, having been incubated by the Founder Institute and the Haxlr8r accelerator for hardware startups. It also received an at least semi-positive response from investors when Way made her pitch in a segment on Bravo’s “Start-Ups: Silicon Valley” TV show (it’s okay if you missed it, so did everyone else) and from the judges (including my boss Alexia Tsotsis) at the Dublin Web Submit.
So hey, maybe there’s a real business here. Or maybe I and everyone else in the Valley have become so numb to crazy startup ideas that this seems almost normal. Almost.
Update 1: I failed to mention that although the company is only now crowdfunding the vibrator itself, it actually launched its Android app last fall.
Update 2: Just to be clear, I don’t think vibrators are inherently funny. I do think a “wearable smart vibrator” marketed with repeated references to Fifty Shades of Grey is inherently funny (which, again, doesn’t make it a terrible idea, maybe). You may adjust your estimations of my maturity accordingly.