You know when you want to tell someone two exciting things at once and it’s hard to decide which one should go first? Welcome to this post. First off, Lora DiCarlo, the sextech startup based right here in Bend, has secured $2 million in seed funding.

The money comes from both new and existing investors and makes use of federal Opportunity Zones (hang with me while we talk about taxes for a minute, because then we’ll talk about ROBOTIC SEX TOYS).

Opportunity Zones are rural or economically distressed areas that the IRS believes could benefit from some long-term investment. Both of Lora DiCarlo’s locations in Corvallis and Bend are designated as Opportunity Zones, which means that the company’s investors receive additional tax benefits under the federal program.

From the Lora DiCarlo news release:

“I invested because Lora DiCarlo is positioned at the intersection of sexual health research and cutting-edge robotic technology creating new products that help everyone have more satisfying sexual interactions,” says new Lora DiCarlo investor Richard Kado, President of Kado Family Inc.  “Additionally, Lora DiCarlo’s commitment to low-income and underserved communities demonstrates an exceptional level of corporate social responsibility while also providing meaningful tax advantages for investors.”

The company chose to locate in Opportunity Zones to spur economic development and job creation in these historically distressed communities. Lora DiCarlo has created 14 new full-time positions within these zones in the last year, according to the news release.

Founder and CEO Lora Haddock says:

“I am pleased and honored to have a group of investors that prioritize social responsibility along with profit. Our investors represent forward-thinking individuals and organizations that share our vision that the thoughtful application of technology can improve sexual health for millions.  Additionally, our investors support our mission of promoting gender equity and making societal changes that benefit everyone.”

The startup plans to use the investment to help commercialize its first product, the Osé. The product is the “only product designed for hands-free blended orgasms. Using advanced patent-pending micro-robotics, Osé mimics the sensations of a human mouth, tongue, and fingers, for an experience that feels remarkably like a real partner.”

The Ose.

OK now the second piece of interesting sextech news. Remember when the officials at CES gave the Lora DiCarlo team an award for robotic innovation, and then they took it away? Even though sex toys have long been allowed at the show? But because they deemed lady parts and lady pleasure as highly inappropriate? Remember that? Well, guess what? They just gave it back and apologized.

via GIPHY

From the Consumer Technology Association, which runs CES:

“CTA is pleased to present Lora DiCarlo with a CES 2019 Innovation Award,” said Jean Foster, CTA’s senior vice president of marketing and communications. “CTA did not handle this award properly. This prompted some important conversations internally and with external advisors and we look forward to taking these learnings to continue to improve the show.”

Better late than never? Regardless, all the kudos goes to the amazing work of the Lora DiCarlo team for having the courage to spur those conversations, appealing that ridiculous decision and truly paving the way for more equitable treatment for women at CES, in the sex toy industry, and beyond.

Kelly Kearsley

Kelly Kearsley, the co-founder of StartupBend.com, is passionate about startups, entrepreneurship and Bend. In addition to writing this blog, she creates content and manages content projects for global financial companies, tech firms and startups. She began her career as a newspaper journalist and later worked as a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in WSJ.com, Money Magazine, CNNMoney, MSNBC and Runner's World. See her work at kellykearsley.contently.com or kellykearsley.com.

You can reach Kelly by email at [email protected].
Kelly Kearsley