Holly Jackson is the co-founder of SheSpot, a femtech platform for women’s sexual wellness.
SheSpot was founded in 2021 by Jackson, an ex-management consultant, and Kalila Bolton, a former lawyer. The platform provides over 100 products for promoting self-care and pleasure and is targeting a market of over 500 million women.
SheSpot’s platform has a community of more than 10,000 people and provides accreditation for products that meet its testing criteria. The London-based startup also offers a quarterly subscription box. SheSpot has so far been self-funding but is currently raising a pre-seed round, aiming to secure £275,000.
In this week’s Founder in Five Q&A, Jackson explains why she’d change the timing of SheSpot’s launch, how bootstrapping has forced the startup to be “incredibly creative”, and how virtual AI relationships “pose potentially problematic questions for society”.
1. What one thing do you wish you’d done differently when launching your company?
Holly Jackson: One thing we’d change about our company’s launch is the pace and timing. As first-time founders, we spent a lot of time strategising and planning, and by the time we piloted and launched we had missed the peak of the sexual wellness boom that took place during the pandemic.
Whilst the ideation and proof of concept was critical, looking back we could have pushed ourselves to move faster and be more confident in our launch!
2. What advice would you give to a first-time founder?
HJ: If you’ve built an MVP and have the ability to learn and test with free or low-cost strategies, then my advice would be don’t be afraid to bootstrap.
In our experience, bootstrapping forced us to be incredibly creative and think prudently about every expenditure, which ultimately led to a stronger and more resilient foundation for our company. Starting small and growing organically may take longer, but it can be a rewarding and more sustainable journey in the long run.
3. Who’s a leader you admire in your industry?
HJ: A leader we deeply admire is Emma Sayle, the founder and CEO of WeAreX. She’s a true powerhouse who has been instrumental in progressing the conversation around sex-positivity and female empowerment since founding the business back in 2005.
Despite the adversity founders in the sex tech space face, she’s built a business worth over £14m, with more than 150,000 members. As well as helping open this space up for the swathe of new sex tech brands entering the market, Emma is an incredible champion of female founders in her industry and beyond.
4. How do you prevent burnout?
HJ: Preventing burnout is a top priority. I try to balance work with regular exercise and downtime in the evenings and weekends. Having a co-founder is a huge support; we cover for each other as
needed, which helps keep us energised and the company on track.
It’s really tough to take proper time out as a founder, but I’ve learnt how incredibly important it is to take holiday and switch off.
5. Is there a technology that the world would be better without?
HJ: It’s still early days but the emergence of AI technologies in the virtual relationships space poses potentially problematic questions for society and the future of our human interactions. AI built out quickly without due care for safety, privacy and output, particularly in such a personal context like sex and relationships, is a technology the world would be better without.
On the other hand, there are of course potential positives for well-built AI tools, and we’re seeing interesting technologies emerge, for example using AI to safely explore fantasy.
Founder in Five – a UKTN Q&A series with the entrepreneurs behind the UK’s innovative tech startups, scaleups and unicorns – is published every Friday.