Eva Goicochea, CEO and founder, will tell you which brand Maude would like to imitate.
Goicochea explains that while selling a product, they are also committing to changing how we think, even if the product is not ours. The brand is well-known for its fleece vest, although it can be a bit overused. Goicochea hopes to make the sex toys and lubricants and the essential oils and other intimate products it sells comparable in popularity in the bedroom. Goicochea tells Forbes that they have long maintained their t-shirt sex.
Maude announced Tuesday a $5.8million Series A round. This brings its total funding to more than $10 million. It also makes Maude the first personal sex-tech product, such as vibrators, that has made it past the seed stage in over half a century. Crave was the only company that did so, raising a $2.4 million Series B in 2013. Since then, Crave has launched an Indiegogo campaign. This is a popular crowdfunding option for startups from traditionally taboo areas. Notable raises in this space include a seed round in 2017 by Unbound Babes, a woman-led startup joined by Founders Fund. A recent $6 million seed round by Cake, a Los Angeles-based brand, was also participated. Cake’s products will soon be available at Walmart.
When Dakota Johnson, star of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” signed on as co-creative Director, Maude made its intention to the mainstream in 2020. Maude products were picked up by high-end American retailers like Nordstrom, Saks, and Bloomingdale’s. Current annual revenues are in the mid-to-high seven figures with a growth rate of more than 200% year over year.
After launching Tinker, a minimalist watch brand by Goicochea with her husband and working for a year at Everlane (the DTC wardrobe staples brand), where she worked on talent, culture and social media, Maude was founded. Dina Epstein was her cofounder and first CPO. She left the company in 2019. According to Digitalundivided, Goicochea is one of 90 Latinx women who have raised more than $1 million in VC funding. She is also of Spanish, Mexican and Native American heritage. That capital is just over 1% of all the VC funding in the United States for 2020.
Cristina Nunez of True Beauty Ventures, who led the round, said that “it’s incredibly exciting.” Nunez, Paola Felipak from Fable Investment and Maude will join Maude’s majority Latina and all-female board. “We are just one piece of the puzzle. Nunez says, “We’re investing in founders, then, of course, the retail stores also need to create space for those brands and embrace them.”
True Beauty’s backing, whose partners also invested in brands such as Alba Botanica and Deva Curl, as well participation in the round by Fable Investments (the venture arm of Natura & Co’s Brazilian personal care and cosmetic company Natura & Co), is a clear indication of the important role wellness brands could play in the future beauty industry. In addition, supplement brands such as Care/Of, Hum Nutrition and Deva Curl have raised hundreds of millions in funding. Sephora sells the latter.
Thomas Buisson, Fable’s Paris-based Director of Fable’s Portfolio, says that sexual wellness delivers in the same manner as good food and good sleep. Maude is the second company to join the portfolio, following a U.K.-based fragrance brand. “It wasn’t a breach or a complete change, it was actually the continuity of what I have been doing.”
Maude has carved a unique path within the “sexual wellness” sector, where venture capitalists are wary about investing in startups that only focus on sexual pleasure and not reproductive health. However, other startups are still benefiting from the post-pandemic consumer interest and Gen-Z’s open-mindedness towards sex.
Walmart will start carrying a range of lubricants made by Cake, a venture-backed startup. The company was founded in 1995 and originally targeted gay men. It later expanded its product line to include other products for sexual wellness. Market studies have shown that the market for such brands is $125 billion. According to all definitions, sexual activity is a very popular one, and Maude is taking advantage of it.