He founded one of the early digital startups in the ...
Snuggled up in bed, listener on and let yourself be aroused. That's roughly how one could listen to the erotic audio stories from femtasy while doing... well, whatever. The startup has now won the Kultur- und Kreativpilotenpreis for its titillating idea. We asked founder Nina Julie Lepique about it: Is femtasy the acoustic equivalent of porn or is there more to it than that?
CCB Magazine: Hello Nina Julie. You and your partner Michael have just won the Kultur- und Kreativpilotenpreis with your startup femtasy. On the Kreativpiloten page it says femtasy is a female empowerment brand and wants to de-taboo the topic of female sexuality. What is taboo about female sexuality? Isn't that a marketing trick of yours to surround femtasy with the gloriole of progressiveness?
Nina Julie: No, this is not a marketing trick, we are serious about this. Female sexuality is advertised a lot in our society, for example in women's magazines. There, everything has to be sexy, it's about how to live out sex practices, how to become a better sex partner, and so on. A pressure of expectation is built up and women in particular are stylized in a clichéd way. But if you talk to women and ask how they actually feel about their sexuality and whether they think they can talk about it freely, you often hear that they don't feel that way at all. It's a combination of pressure and false expectations on the one hand, and a condemnation of female pleasure that many women feel, at the very least, on the other, that leads to women not feeling empowered to talk openly about their sexuality. Our goal is to tease out the natural of female sexuality and encourage women to say what they want.
CCB Magazine: femtasy is a streaming platform for sensual and erotic audio stories for women. Why audio stories and nothing to look at?
Nina Julie: For a large number of women, around 70 percent, sexuality takes place in the head, while men react more strongly to visual stimuli. A fact that the sex researcher Ulrich Clement already found out a few years ago. But I wouldn't say that femtasy is now the counterpart to pornography. It's just like with a skirt and pants: you want to cover your legs and there is one possibility or the other.
As far as female sexuality is concerned, there is a deep data gap, there are still no profound studies on this. This is nothing new in the discourse of equality; in many areas of life, the focus is much more on men than on women
CCB Magazine: You just said that when women are asked about their sexual self-image, the picture often emerges completely different from that of women's magazines, for example. Isn't that an anecdotal perspective? Just because female acquaintances think that they are not allowed to speak openly about their sexuality, you can’t conclude that the same applies to all other women. Are there any studies on which to base your judgment?
Nina Julie: Before founding femtasy, we conducted a study with 1500 women and asked them questions about their sexuality. As you have just correctly stated, that is exactly the problem: There is a deep data gap when it comes to female sexuality, and there are still no in-depth studies on it. I know about a study by the sex toy manufacturer Tenga, but overall, there is simply far too little data. Incidentally, this is nothing new in the discourse on equality. In many areas of life, men are much more focused on than women.
CCB Magazine: You founded your startup in 2018. Please tell me, who and how did you come up with this idea?
Nina Julie: The idea came from me. I had looked at the adult entertainment market for a previous employer. It was about business analogies, not so important at this point. But I noticed how incredibly male-dominated this market is, from both the consumer and the producer side. Then at some point I sat with friends having a chat and talked to them about erotic offers, how and whether they would use it, whether it turned them on, etc. It turned out that they couldn’t really identify with existing offers and were frustrated that there was no suitable content for women. And I thought, that can’t be, half of society is made up of women, and if they say that existing erotic content doesn't fit their ideas, something has to happen. I wanted to change that.
Almost half of women don't talk about their sexual needs, in some cases not even with their partner. We're about communicating that it's just as natural for women as it is for men to have fun with themselves and be comfortable with their own needs
CCB Magazine: And how did you then approach it, how do you market your product?
Nina Julie: Well, the thing is: almost half of women don't talk about their sexual needs, sometimes not even to their partner. We try to address these two groups, the sexually open and the shy ones, in different ways. That can be very direct or just around the corner. In the end, it's about communicating that it's just as natural for women as it is for men to have fun with themselves and to be comfortable with their own needs. What actually works well for us is influencer marketing. We work with some influencers who promote our product.
CCB Magazine: femtasy is available as an app and streaming platform through which you can listen to the erotic audio stories via a subscription. How many female subscribers do you have right now, are there also men who listen to your stories? How is the feedback?
Nina Julie: Unfortunately, I am not allowed to reveal anything about the number of subscribers. But in fact, we have some male listeners too, 11 percent of the buyers are men. Basically, our users have a say in who reads the stories, and we keep introducing potential new speakers on the platform. In addition, we have a research panel, thousands of women who give us feedback on the stories, but also on new features and concepts. We are thus pursuing a co-creation approach to some extent.
CCB Magazine: To come back to woman empowerment again: It would never occur to me that porn would reinforce my self-image as a man. So how does femtasy contribute to women's empowerment?
Nina Julie: Yeah, that's a perfectly normal reaction - from a man. But women are seen differently in society. There is unfortunately, for example, the orientation towards ideals of beauty and the resulting body shaming and discomfort with one's own body, this constant need to compare oneself. These things are much more present than with men and put women under internal and external pressure. Listening to erotic stories that allow you to let go, whether you're chubby or thin, curvy or muscular, can increase your self-esteem. It can make you feel desirable. That goes much deeper than it first appears.
The female erotic market is a billion dollar business, it is growing rapidly
CCB Magazine: Obviously, you have entered a niche in the market. Investors like Thomas Bachem, the founder of the Code University in Berlin, and Rolf Schrömgens, head of Trivago, have joined you. How do you make a company like yours financially sustainable? Is there a best possible way of financing?
Nina Julie: There is no general answer to that - depending on the market, the team, the target image and also the “environment” and market situation, very different paths can be the right one.
CCB Magazine: How will the female erotic market develop in the next few years? What are you going to do with femtasy? Is there already a Japanese version of femtasy?
Nina Julie: We are still at the very beginning. The entire female erotic market is still in its infancy. In any case, the market is a billion-dollar business with a great future. It's growing rapidly. And, because you mention it, Japan has actually become a running gag for us, at every team meeting someone suggests, let's launch in Japan! But we’re not there yet and we’re very satisfied with our German and English content so far. A third language will soon be added. We have been growing very quickly since our foundation in 2018. Our vision remains the same: to support women in leading a self-determined life.
CCB Magazine: Nina Julie, I'm looking forward to the first story in papal Latin. Thank you for the interview.
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