Written by MLNP CEO Cindy Gallop for Volteface. Originally published on April 1st, 2016.
Obviously, nobody reading this needs to have ‘cannabis’ explained to them, but just in case you’re wondering exactly what I mean by ‘sextech’ – sextech is technology, and technology-driven ventures, designed to enhance, innovate and disrupt in every area of human sexuality and human sexual experience.
And the cannabis and sextech industries have a whole lot in common.
1. Cannabis and sextech startups are the new unicorns
The by now overused term ‘unicorn’ refers to any tech startup that reaches a market valuation of over $1 billion.
To back a unicorn is every investor’s dream. Well, you don’t get any more unicorn-friendly than cannabis and sextech.
ArcView Market Research predicts the legal cannabis market will grow by 25% this year to reach $6.7billion in total US sales, and the total could approach $22billion by 2020.
It’s a lot harder to quantify market size for sextech – especially because it’s a sector that still struggles to be officially acknowledged, one I’ve been championing for the past few years.
Also, when I say sextech, I don’t mean porn. The difference was perfectly articulated by Jon Evans writing about my social sex startup MakeLoveNotPorn in Techcrunch last year:
The internet – and the tech industry as a whole – has essentially polarized into two separate, independent fiefdoms: porn, and non-sexual content. There is little to no room for anything in between
MakeLoveNotPorn is sexual content that isn’t porn, and is part of the huge, huge sextech market in the ‘in between’.
In the absence of official quantification, let’s put it this way: A 2004 study found that 1% of the world’s population can be defined as asexual.
As my friend Stoya said when she shared this statistic with me: “My gosh, what a gloriously large potential market that leaves.”
Sex as the universal human use case makes for many, many unicorns.
2. Cannabis and sextech startups are legal
Legalization of cannabis is progressing across the US, subject to the same stringency as legislation around any venture that involves sex in any form.
What this means is that today’s cannabis and sextech startups are particularly concerned to ensure that they operate entirely within the letter of the law.
An extremely substantial part of MakeLoveNotPorn‘s seed funding went on legal fees to make sure of that. Investors need have no worry on that score.
3. Cannabis and sextech fight a battle every day that other startups don’t
Nevertheless, despite that legality, cannabis and sextech startups share very similar obstacles. Every single piece of business infrastructure other startups can take for granted, we can’t at MLNP, because the small print always says ‘No adult content’. We can’t get funded, banked, put mainstream payment processing in place, and cannabis startups face the same issues.
But here’s the good news: every obstacle we face is a huge disruptive business opportunity in itself. Be that investor/bank/payment processor/business service dedicated to working with the future of cannabis and sextech, and build your own unicorn.
Head over to Volteface to read even more about what the cannabis and #sextech industry have in common!