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A “sex essentials” startup just got half a million in funding, thanks to a women-led VC fund

A “sex essentials” startup just got half a million in funding, thanks to a women-led VC fund
[Photo: courtesy of Maude]

I wrote about XFactor Ventures last summer, when it launched as a pre-seed and seed stage VC fund looking to invest in female-led companies. XFactor is unique in that its own investment team is comprised exclusively of women–and they happen to be entrepreneurs in their own right, from Credit Hero CEO Nicole Sanchez to The Muse CEO Kathryn Minshew.

The latest addition to XFactor’s portfolio is a sexual wellness company called Maude, which creates minimalist, gender-neutral sexual health products (“sex essentials,” as per Maude). The startup launches in April and will carry condoms, two lubricants, a vibrator, and a travel kit. Maude’s mission is not unlike that of Sustain Natural, in that the startup seeks to offer female-friendly alternatives to wares from Trojan and Durex.

XFactor’s Aubrie Pagano–the cofounder and CEO of fashion startup Bow & Drape–led the $550,000 pre-seed round of funding, the firm’s 15th investment since inception. The plan was to put $3 million toward 30 startups, so it’s likely XFactor will start raising money for a second fund this year, XFactor partner Kate Castle tells me.

Sex-related startups often struggle to get funding, usually because investors are wary of wading into the space. Some VC firms even have morality clauses that preclude them from investing in anything that might constitute adult content. With the sex toy market estimated at $15 billion, though, that’s a missed opportunity.

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