The Stella Women Series: Bryony Cole, Founder of Sextech School

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Despite all the progress we’ve collectively made, there are still plenty of taboos that exist in 2023. 

Sex is one of the biggest taboos, often viewed as a topic filled with shame and stigma. But pioneering entrepreneurs are using the latest tech to rewrite the rules when it comes to talking about and embracing our sexuality. 

Enter Bryony Cole: she’s the leading authority on sex and is fascinated by the way tech permeates every corner of our lives (even the most intimate ones). Through her podcast and education platform, she is helping people have better, more fulfilling and more fun sex lives. 

We chatted to Bryony about her journey to founding SexTech School, what it’s like being a woman in tech and her big plans for 2023 (and beyond).

To kick things off, can you give us a quick introduction to yourself and your business, SexTech School?

“Hello! Bryony here. I look for the most interesting people and interesting ideas on the planet that are driving the future of sexuality and technology (sextech).

 I discovered sextech seven years ago when I started my podcast Future of Sex. Today, in addition to the podcast and public speaking, I run Sextech School. Our mission is to educate, inspire and connect the next generation of sextech entrepreneurs, innovators, and leaders. 

We provide resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities for individuals and organisations in the sextech industry. Our goal is to create a more inclusive, diverse and equitable sextech ecosystem for all.”

Why did you decide to launch SexTech School?

“I started Sextech School because my inbox was full of people asking for help getting started in sextech. There’s a huge gap in the industry for education and resources, something that I experienced personally when starting out.  

I wanted to create a space where people could come together to learn, network and create and feel like they found other people that ‘get them.’ It can be lonely out there working in a taboo sector, and finding shame-free spaces was always such a relief.  

I also wanted to address the lack of diversity and representation in the industry and make sure that underrepresented communities have the opportunity to participate and lead in the sextech space that typically doesn’t have access to capital or mentors. That felt important after running sextech hackathons around the world and seeing the amount of inspiration and enthusiasm at a grassroots level.”

What challenges have you faced as a female founder of a tech-based startup? 

“In the beginning, I struggled to get recognition for my ideas and to be taken seriously as a business leader.

I remember a TEDx talk where someone came up to me and told me I shouldn’t wear high heels on stage as they might intimidate men! Comments about my appearance rather than the substance of the talks were initially demoralizing but these days I’ve got more focus on what’s important and less tolerance for harassment whether it’s online or in person. 

I’ve developed some good boundaries but I don’t mind it.  And if I intimidate men? That’s fine by me. I’m not here to make them comfortable.

In addition to the general lack of representation and bias in technology, sextech is still a relatively new and often stigmatised industry, so there are additional challenges in terms of societal perception and taboo of sex and technology. 

These range from being able to advertise on social media to securing a bank account or the more personal side of things like explaining to family and friends exactly what you do.”

What is your advice for women looking to launch their own business or startup?

“Start. Start before you’re ready. Put something out there. Show your work. 

It doesn’t mean quitting your job. But take the risk. It’s always, always worth it.”

What’s next for your career journey in 2023 (and beyond)?

“Sextech School is opening its ninth cohort! I’m so excited to see the evolution of the alumni as they build businesses and go on to become leaders in the industry. 

We’re opening a talent network and an investment community to further fuel the sextech industry and bring people’s ideas and inspiration out of their dreams and into a reality. I’ll be speaking at SXSW, WebSummit and a few other festivals this year and the Future of Sex podcast will go into its fourth season. We’re just getting started!”

Stay up to date with Bryony Cole on LinkedIn and find out more about Sextech School on their website.

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