Many of the most impactful products in the sextech space have grown up in direct response to an unmet need. As we learn on this episode of Busine$$ of the V, Melanie Cristol brainstormed her unique patented underwear technology because she wanted to enable more people to say “yes” to oral sex. You’ll learn how and why the CEO & Founder of Lorals stepped out of a successful partner-track legal career in order to launch an international venture that promotes not only more oral sex but more orgasms, sensual fun and exploration of all kinds.
This episode also features big news: While Lorals has been growing exponentially based on the comfort and utility of its underwear alone, a whole new horizon will be opening up as the result of impending FDA approval. In addition to encouraging great sex, Lorals will also at last be able to promote safer sex. Rigorous design and testing make this product (which is available in a range of styles and sizes) a highly effective barrier to STIs and invitation to increased intimacy. You’ll be fascinated to hear about Melanie’s journey, her experiences securing federal approval and lessons learned about the world of venture capital.
So say hello to a smart, sexy, innovative product in a fast-growing niche market – and say goodbye to the old dental dam solution. With women three times more likely to orgasm through oral sex as compared with intercourse, the target market is clearly there! Click here to learn more about Lorals and check out their blog, Lorotica.
HOT FLASH: Based on a Bespoke Surgical survey from 2020, the average person performs oral sex 5.32 times per month and receives it 5.2 times per month.
Watch the Interview with Lorals Founder, Melanie Cristol
Topics Discussed with Melanie Cristol, Founder of Lorals:
- Melanie explains Lorals underwear, their design and purpose.
- Lorals originated back when Melanie was a peer sex counselor in college, trying to advocate for safe oral sex practices to protect against STIs.
- Why the “dental dam” model has pretty much been a flop.
Melanie shares details about impending FDA clearance and what it means:
- No longer limited in how the company messages around STI protection.
- In addition to their sensual and esthetic appeal, Lorals can now be positioned as a vehicle for safer sex and prevention of the transmission of infections.
- The FDA required a high standard of proof that the product’s strength, thickness, bio-compatibility and other characteristics matched or exceeded any dental dam product on the market.
- FDA approval considerably broadens advertising options for the company.
- Latex: People who are allergic should not use Lorals (but a non-latex version is in the planning stages).
- Disposable? Yes. Lorals are single-use only.
- The choice of colors (black and opaque) was based on target market feedback. A see-through version will be forthcoming shortly.
Raising money in an intimate space that is often hard to pitch:
- An initial pre-seed funding round yielded $250,000 a few years ago, when sextech products were still fairly stigmatized.
- More recently, Melanie has been able to bootstrap her way to near-profitability.
- Another round of fundraising is on the horizon.
Isn’t it time to close the orgasm gap?
- Oral sex is three times more likely than penetration to lead women to orgasm.
- Lorals research illuminated that some 87% of women were turning down oral sex for a variety of reasons, even when they wanted to say yes.
- Lorals have a patented, no-leak design that creates a fluid-tight seal, making it a great solution for women who have their periods.
From Lawyer to Lorals: Melanie decided to forgo her job as an attorney after:
- Being inspired by clients whose consumer product and health care companies were creating “something out of nothing and bringing it to the market.”
- Having a personal experience on a romantic vacation that drove home a market gap she knew she could fill.
- Colleagues and women she spoke with validated that many women were turning down opportunities to have oral sex for reasons she could help address.
What Melanie has learned about the “meat and potatoes” of building a business:
- There’s a lot of misinformation in the venture capital industry.
- While many investors discourage the pursuit of patents because they believe it will bog down product timelines, Melanie says it’s a short-sighted approach.
- Strong IP (intellectual property) helps protect against copy-cat competitors.
- Both design and utility patents have a role to play.
- Even though she had a legal background, Melanie still brought in an attorney with special patent expertise.
- In addition to strong patent protection, Lorals has a complex production process that further protects against infringement in a niche industry.
About Melanie Cristol
Melanie Cristol is the Founder & CEO of Lorals, the new standard for oral sexual wellness. As inventor and CEO of Lorals, Melanie holds four patents, has been nominated by XBIZ as Entrepreneur of the Year and has been featured in the NYTimes, Fast Company, and Cosmopolitan. Melanie has also been a featured speaker at SXSW, Lesbians Who Tech, the Brooklyn Sex Expo, and at colleges and universities across the country. Prior to creating Lorals, Melanie studied Sociology at Columbia University and received her JD from Columbia Law School. She worked as a healthcare and consumer products attorney and was part of the legal team that secured gay marriage rights for the western United States. Melanie also fought for LGBTQ rights in California and Ohio as a field organizer with the National LGBTQ Task Force.