Despite the potential for technology to radically transform it, the sex tech industry isn’t actually discussed much. In most of the world, sex is still a taboo topic, and funding for the industry isn’t as robust as one might assume.
Of course, sex being tabooed doesn’t help, but part of the reason for this lackluster investment seems to be that many investors have vice clauses that dictate where they can invest their limited partners’ money, and it turns out that sex is quite high on that list.
Still, PitchBook shows that though the industry receives small amounts of capital, funding has remained relatively steady over the years. In 2020, sex tech startups raised $352 million, and in 2021, like most other sectors, investments in the space increased to $422 million. That fell to $275.8 million last year, in line with the general slowdown in venture capital investing.
Things seem to be improving, though: Sex tech startups have raised $111.9 million this year, and if the trend keeps up, they’ll be on track to at least raise as much as they did in 2022, if not more.
Some investors are not afraid. Although there is no fund focused on the space yet, some investors have it as part of their wider focus on women’s health. Jessica Karr, the co-founder of Coyote Ventures, invests across the spectrum of women’s health and wellness. Previously, she helped develop and launch the Impossible Burger and currently serves as a limited partner in other women-led funds.
With Coyote, she has invested in cancer-detection company Gabbi, the fintech company The Beans, and bereavement care company Betterleave. Curious about the burgeoning sex tech market, I caught up with Karr to talk about its role in the women’s health industry, the potential of the category, and where she sees it going in the future.