Paris-based lab says personalization is key to success in the industry.
Dorcel Lab is the latest innovation from Marc Dorcel, a pioneer in producing and distributing adult video on demand and virtual reality content. The first of its kind, the lab aims to help sex tech startups in France and around the world grow their businesses.
Launched in May 2017, Dorcel Lab has five startups under its wing for a six-month trial period. Many of them were chosen for their focus on personalization, the tailoring of products and services to individuals.
“What we want is to increase the pleasure experience and innovate in how we experience pleasure,” says Dimitri Ducourtieux, a manager at Dorcel Lab. “Pleasure is one of the more personal things so we strongly believe personalization is the key factor for our industry.”
Ducourtieux hopes that, just as Amazon recommends similar items to customers while shopping, so too will sex tech better learn the personal tastes of users.
The first incubated business is an in-house project, which Ducourtieux describes as “like a national contest in France”. The second, Voulez-vous, is developing personalized movies; the third, Your Lovebox, creates packaging for sex toys to be distributed in hotel rooms; and the fourth is an online marketplace for adult content. The fifth is an uncensored social network called Uplust, in which Marc Dorcel has invested €150,000 and taken a minority stake.
In the first year of its launch, Dorcel Lab had more than 50 applicants, each one with different needs. Some needed funding, others company’s required management and organizational structure. Startups can draw on the expertise of business owners in the wider Marc Dorcel company.
“That is why we have a three-stage programme,” Ducourtieux says. “The first stage is we give the companies access to our content, network, and tools to help them build a product on top of our existing assets. The second is incubation, so we offer them hosting and mentoring, and the third is funding.”
Who should apply?
Hugues Mariton, chief operating officer at Marc Dorcel, agrees with the importance of personalization in sex tech’s future. He adds: “We don’t want technology for technology’s sake. Companies should have user experience in mind over technology.”
Ducourtieux and Mariton say they are on the lookout for companies innovating in AR and VR, and those working with data.
Their advice to companies is not to apply in the very early stages of starting up. “Some companies have come to us with just an idea,” Ducourtieux says. “They need a business plan, sometimes even a product for us to help them with funding, or help them find more people or increase their content production to improve their revenues.”
Funding for sex tech in France faces the same challenges as elsewhere in the world.
“Banks don’t want to open an account for sextech startups, there are few processors for online payments so it is hard to have global access to the market, and it’s hard to pitch venture capitalists with an adult industry business model,” Ducourtieux says.
This is where Dorcel Lab comes in. And with big plans for the year ahead, it seems the lab could be just what sex tech startups are looking for.
Image source: Dorcel Lab