Revealing the reasons behind NYC's Sextech Hackathon

The SexTech hackathon is coming to New York on 10th June. Just as with any other hackathon, its aim is to stimulate the creation of the new product ideas in the industry and inspire participants to create cool products - and grab the attention of the media and VC's as SexTech is a potentially billion dollar industry.

It's also aiming to "change the common perception of sex from sleazy, dirty, pornographic, taboo to a positive, open and essential" topic, according to the event's organiser Andriy Yaroshenko . We caught up with Andriy to find out more.

Tell us a bit more about the event

It’s a one-day-only event. We are pioneers in the US in this type of sessions, and we think this to be the most relevant form for the first venture. 

We expect over 100 people to come and the event is seen as a female-oriented event, but the list of attendees is diverse and anyone is welcome to join.   

Why do you think SexTech needs its own dedicated hackathon?

Designing a product of this type requires some specific environment. The theme of sex has been a taboo, it still remains an uncharted territory, a kind of terra incognita. It is only now that hackathons of this kind are beginning to be held in some countries. We come to the USA first, being among the group of few who started doing it globally.

SexTech is so far associated with porn and entertainment only. We want to change the things and improve the picture, as well as show this sphere to offer plenty of opportunities for establishing big companies.

A diverse range of voices and ideas are urgently needed to change the patriarchal dynamic of the booming SexTech industry. It's time to create a more inclusive, healthy future of sexuality by getting more concepts engaged from the female demographic!

And do you have any idea what to expect from the event and its attendees?

As of today, we have received over 30 applications with #SexTech products ideas. There are brainchildren in the field of Healthcare and Education, some IoT products and dating apps, as well as conceptual ideas of the products designed for the LGBTQ community.

Is there anything different about this event compared to other hackathons?

The basic difference for our hackathon lies in it being topic-oriented. We are also open for everyone who wants to participate, not just tech people.

We differ by making it a one-day-only event. We shall kick off by introducing our speakers and mentors: there’ll be inspiring lightning talks coming from Bryony Cole of the The Future Of Sex podcast,   Laura Kingsley of the ThoughtWorks, from Mal Harrison, the Director of Center for Erotic Intelligence, from  Kris Jandler, a Co-founder & CMO at Emojibator, and Andriy Yaroshenko, a Co-founder & CEO of Fantasy App, Irene Ryabaya, Co-Founder of Monarq, the funding focused incubator for gender diverse teams, and Ekaterina Dorozhkina, Co-Founder, Managing Partner Starta Capital & Accelerator.

And then we proceed with the hackathon proper. The basic goal of our hackathon is to lay down the concept of the product and make a presentation for pitching it to the mentors at the end of the day. Of course, we would encourage the participants to have their product concept thoroughly elaborated and give as many details as possible.

And why did you decide to host the USA's first Sextech hackathon in NYC?

 I believe the New York of today to be the world center of SexTech industry and ideology.

It all started with Cindy Gallop’s breaking the ice and initiating public talk about SexTech as a billions-dollar industry. She was the first to represent it as a field that can truly benefit the fulfilment of actual sexual needs and desires of real people.

And then Bryony Cole launched her Future Of Sex podcast and provided the SexTech industry with a platform that enables entrepreneurs and startups to tell the world about the ideas they have and products they offer. This was a venture that facilitated essential opportunities to many open-minded and inventive people.

Of course, we need to mention the entrepreneurs who have already started with their products or are about to launch them: Polly Rodriguez from Unboundbox, Kristan of Emojibators, Mia Davis of Tabu, Janet Lieberman and her Dame Products, Estrella Jaramillo of B-womb, Anna Lee and her Lioness, Lidia Bonilla of the House Of Plume… and many others!

Surely there are many other creative entrepreneurs coming from other American cities, other counties. But with all above-mentioned players gathered in one place, this can be turned into a local SexTech ecosystem that fosters intensive communication, sharing ideas and holding the events like the hackathon we do and others of the kind.

I also gave things a boost by launching the SexTech Entrepreneurs Meetup group. The board features links to all SexTech hackathons held worldwide. On June 1 we had our first New York meetup that brought together about 20 people, all of them having very different backgrounds but all united by an interest in SexTech. And this is just the beginning.

What insights and benefits will attendees get from your event?

This is America’s first ever SexTech Hackathon. Taking part in it is an insight and experience in and of itself.

We shall bring together the theme leaders and advocates, actual groundbreakers in this field. We believe that people participating in this Hackathon are the would-be unicorns!

Yet the most valuable experience that our participants shall get is meeting the like-minded people. Besides, there is a chance to meet prospective co-founders and eventual employees.

How many ideas get turned into viable commercial offerings following a SexTech hackathon?

The primary goal of our Hackathon is to take some limited time to conceive a product concept and present its model to mentors to verify the idea feasibility.

The group of our mentors features both experts in launching SexTech products (Kris Jandler, Bryan Stacy, Andriy Yaroshenko), a certified sexologist (Mal Harrison), Bryony Cole from Future Of Sex, Laura Kingsley from Thoughtworks, as well as VC view from Irene Ryabaya, Co-Founder of Monarq, the funding focused incubator for gender diverse teams, and Ekaterina Dorozhkina, Co-Founder, Managing Partner Starta Capital & Accelerator, so we shall give a very valuable feedback to our participants!

I hope that the ideas originated by the Hackathon shall be further developed into products that become as a commercial success!

And if you could offer one piece of advice to the attendees coming to your event - what would it be?

Even if you don’t have any idea of your product, come join the team you like! We need diverse competencies.

If you just want to create a SexTech product, prepare your one-minute pitch (without presentation) to light the audience’s fire and get the best talents! The hackathon is a perfect place for verifying your idea’s sustainability.

In case you already have a product that you work at, set yourself the specific goal of the questions you want to be answered and the problem you want to solve within your team.

The group of mentors shall give proper consideration to every project to give you a helpful feedback. We provide the environment to create the future of SexTech.

What does the future hold for Sextech, in your opinion?

When I think about it, I ask myself another question: what is the future of human sexuality in general? With centuries of taboos in this sphere, contentious questions of religion and morality on the one hand, and the new tendencies of openness, robotic automation and virtual reality of the other. What is to be expected?

The products we shall be designing in SexTach reflect the level of our sexual culture. And our hackathon is of the instruments to show to the general public that between the extremums – those of blanket taboo and unlimited permissiveness – there lies an ample space for designing relevant SexTech projects. It’s like showing all the shades of grey in between the black and white to finally ingrain the idea about the spectrum containing other colors – different categories where top-level and demanded products can be made.

The technologies offer infinite possibilities that can be used in some totally various ways. My personal wish is for the technologies to help us upgrade educational aspects and improve issues related to health and healthcare. And foster exploration and further extension, intensification of every person’s basic need by stimulating mindful comprehension of all pleasant, delicate and sophisticated nuances that “sex” and “sexuality” as umbrella-notions actually stand for - different objects, forms and scenarios, various fantasies that turn people on. These are my personal concern and interest that underlie the product we are about to release - the Fantasy App.