top of page
  • Writer's pictureStu Nugent

Sx Tech Eu: So You Want To Build A Dildo?

Updated: Jan 31, 2023


Winter in Berlin is bleak.


None of us have seen a blue sky in weeks. We walk, hunched and narrow-shouldered, pale-faced and clammy, wrapped in a wardrobe of layers, through mist that’s not quite snow and not quite rain.


Our freezing feet hustle us across the treacherous cobblestones, our bodies aching for the simple warmth of a filthy U-bahn train where we might sit squeezed against a stranger for a share of their vitality. Even the foxes shiver.

Imagine my relief, then, when I stepped out of that gloom, down an alleyway, and into the temperate hospitality of Sx Tech Eu’s January meetup, where the beer and coffee flowed freely like ambrosia, and the conversation was of sex.


It’s been a while. The last ‘industry’ event I attended was Venus, back in October 2022, here in Berlin. That was the first major sex and pleasure event I’d attended since, I think, the beginning of the pandemic. My overriding memory of that weekend was not the live fisting demonstration, or the sole naked attendee with his diligently shaved pubic region being interviewed from the waist up by a national TV broadcaster, but of paying 7 euros for a polystyrene tray of half a bag of off-brand Doritos, with a fistful of sweaty gouda thrown on top. More a grudging gesture than a topping. Seven euros to be insulted with stale tortilla chips. I’m still angry about it.


I digress.


By contrast, the atmosphere at Sx Tech Eu’s first meetup of 2023 was one of generosity, and shared purpose. It was my first Sx Tech Eu event – the founder and CEO, Ola Miedzynska, organised the first major conference five years ago, when I was living in Shanghai and unable to attend. The next, I was in Zagreb, and similarly unable to travel. Then, covid swept in and I was bound against all my impulses to the UK. But now, living as I am in Berlin, I could afford myself no excuse.

I was, frankly, surprised to see so many in attendance, and even more surprised, looking around the fresh and energetic young faces, to come to the realisation that I was probably the oldest person in the room. I’m 37. And yet, I already feel like an ancient mariner of the adult industry, the kind of grizzled old veteran who sits in the shadowy corner of a bar drinking dusty whiskey and moaning about young people changing things in an industry I used to think of as my own. I've seen things you people wouldn't believe, I mumble into my whiskey, and finish the glass.


It was refreshing, enervating even, to see the enthusiasm and interest on the faces of the gathered crowd, most of whom turned out to be students of SPICED Academy, with whom Sx Tech Eu had partnered, a tech education startup that offers intensive boot camps to up-and-comers in the technology industry. They were there to hear a couple of intimacy and pleasure luminaries talk about what it takes to get a tech business, or a sex toy, across the line and out to market.


After Ola introduced the evening, the first speaker was Sachin Raoul. Sachin is a University College London and Cambridge graduate, as well as a Forbes 30 Under 30 alumni. They talked passionately about their business, a relationship happiness app called Blueheart, which develops connections between partners and improves relationship health. It is, in essence, guided sex therapy – without a therapist.

Sachin was articulate and charismatic, and talked about love and sex in the kinds of conceptual terms that always resonate well with me. There was something vaguely tantric about their message, so it was with a little surprise that I learned the one person in the audience who pushed back against their commentary on love turned out to be a tantra teacher herself.

Afterwards, it was the turn of Dan Shor, a highly experienced engineer and a former colleague. The title of his talk was ‘So You Want To Build A Dildo,’ and all the way home I sang that phrase to myself to the tune of ‘Do You Want To Build A Snowman’, and my feelings about that fact are complicated. It’s still stuck in my head three days later, I may never be able to watch Frozen again.

Dan spoke on behalf of his consultancy, Contaxtual Labs, which specialises in the intersection of contact, sensation, and context through haptic technology. He talked the audience through the process of designing, manufacturing, and testing sex toys, and where they had previously been made boisterous by the free booze and the taboo subject matter, they were focused and attentive as Dan pulled back the curtain on what really goes into the production of a pleasure product.

Dan has a way of making the impenetrable field of engineering accessible even to abstract creative types like me. And although he had to be a little guarded so as not to reveal any actual trade secrets and protect previous employers, I walked away with a new appreciation for the secret sauce that makes orgasm machines so orgasmic. And also a new appreciation for avocado socks.

I’d attended for a few reasons. First, to network on behalf of The Afterglow. Second, to catch up with Dan. And third, to show support for what Ola, and by extension Sx Tech Eu, was doing for the industry I love so much. There are very, very few organisations in the world like Sx Tech Eu. That is to say, there are very, very few people really putting their back into securing a future for people interested in sex technology in the way that Ola is doing.


These kinds of events are crucial for making new generations of entrepreneurs and experts excited for where technology is going to take pleasure in the future, and by onboarding them now, and by demonstrating that we are professionals, and by creating a space for likeminded but diverse groups to share our various expertise, Sx Tech Eu is itself shaping that future. That’s important.


And with that, I stepped out of the oppressive melancholy of Berlin’s dreary winter and into the warm embrace of the Promised Land.


See you at the next one.



164 views

Recent Posts

See All

Comentários


bottom of page