8 minute read
Startup Story

I’ll have what she’s having: German startup femtasy focuses on female pleasure

femtasy co founders Nina Julie Lepique and  Michael Holzner

How a Google Progressive Web App empowers women with #EthicalErotica

Ask any woman founder about their experience starting a company, and chances are they’ll mention pushback—from investors, from the market, and from a system that favors male-founded companies. But Nina Julie Lepique, cofounder of femtasy— the first audio-only streaming platform for female-centric erotica— isn’t concerned with what men want. Operating at the intersection of self-care, podcasting, and sexual wellness, the subscription-based femtasy platform offers over 2,000 high-quality audio stories, real sex sounds and sensual audios from male, female, and non-binary voice actors, ranging in content, theme, vibe and duration. Hundreds of thousands of users have paid12,99 € per month to access the ever-growing library of content via the web or the femtasy progressive web application (PWA), filterable by individual tastes, stories, and intensity. “Women experience pleasure through fantasy, and are less visually-driven than men,” says Lepique. “With audio, we give users access to a storyline and then they can paint their own picture inside their head based on their personal preferences—in the privacy and safety of their own home .”

According to Business Wire, the sexual wellness market is predicted to reach USD $125.1 billion by 2026—but only recently began to cater to, let alone understand, female desire. In 2018, Julie and her now cofounder, Michael Holzner, were navigating a long-distance relationship and she was shocked to find just how little research existed on female sexuality. “There’s tons of data on how male orgasms work, but female pleasure is something that is less understood…I simply didn’t identify with anything that was out there,” Julie says, explaining that existing adult content offerings were “super-focused on the male gaze, often unethical, and with unrealistic perceptions of sex and intimacy and lots of weird beauty ideals.” Julie wanted to create a female-centric, consensual and kink-positive community that empowers people of all sexual orientations to explore, experiment and relax.

At the age of 23, in 2018 Julie left her corporate job to focus on femtasy full-time, driven by her belief “that sexuality is an integral part of our own identity, and female pleasure is inseparable from self-determination and gender equality.” She and Michael based the structure of the platform on findings from a market study of more than 1500 participants with different sexual orientations and lifestyles. She was initially concerned that corporate investors would be hesitant to broach the formerly taboo subject . “As a startup in the sextech and femtech space, you have to be extra professional and extra data-driven to be taken seriously,” says Julie. Three oversubscribed funding rounds (and a number of female investors on their cap table) later, femtasy has won the hearts of hundreds of thousands of users as well awards including Forbes’ “30 under 30” and Bits & Pretzels’ “Best Startup in Health & Wellness.”

Another form of validation, says Julie, has been the ongoing support and collaboration she enjoys from the Google for Startups team and community she met when femtasy took part in the Immersion: Women Founders program in 2020. In addition to hands-on support from the team who “is always there to help to create new opportunities or solve urgent problems,” Julie says that she got more than she expected from the program: “The 1:1 business coaching was a real gamechanger in team dynamics & leadership questions. It definitely helped us as a leadership team at femtasy to level up. From valuable business partnerships to real friendships, I found more than I dreamed of from the Google for Startups community.”

Based on consistently high user feedback, Julie and Michael are working to realize their vision for femtasy as Europe’s leading pleasure brand and sexual self-discovery space. femtasy is also expanding their offerings to include other kinds of content, including audio love letters and meditative stories. “Pleasure is a new industry that will shape the lives of millions of people, and it’s just getting started. Sexuality is an essential part of peoples personalities, and I wish for everybody to freely and curiously explore, indulge, and experience theirs.’

Learn more about femtasy