Back in the nineties, two London teenagers met through mutual friends, a love of live music and a healthy addiction to fun in all its guises. Fifteen years later and still best friends, Jules and Adam came up with an idea that would eventually change the way people viewed sex toys and how they should look and function.
Launched in September 2013, PULSE, aka the ‘World’s First Guybrator™’, was different to any other toy that had come before it. The product was based on medical technology but looked more like a hi-spec piece of industrial design than a sex toy. Not only was the product an instant mainstream sex toy industry smash, but its unique oscillating technology and hands-free functionality allowed people with erectile dysfunction and mobility issues access to affordable pleasure products that worked for them too.
Since then, Hot Octopuss has perfected the PULSE range with PULSE III DUO and SOLO, has launched its Pocket PULSE and ATOM cock ring ranges, and has entered the wand toy market with the Queen Bee. It has three new products due for launch within the next year. In 2019, the company aims to widen its product ranges to offer more for its LGBTQ+ customers, older customers, those with disabilities and chronic health conditions, and those on lower incomes, as well as continuing to produce beautifully-designed premium products for the mainstream market.
With the focus always on innovation, inclusivity, and listening to customer needs, Hot Octopuss sits at the cutting edge of sex toy design, creating next generation toys that are designed to fit into people’s lifestyles, not just their bedrooms.
Taking concepts, technology and materials from outside the adult industry, our aim is to create products that go beyond conventional thinking and challenge perceptions of how sex toys should look and function.
Our products and campaigns spark important conversations about sex; working towards a world where everyone has access to sexual expression and pleasure. We are reinventing pleasure… one orgasm at a time.
We sat down with Co-Founder Julia Margo to learn more about Hot Octopuss’ journey to help carve a revolutionary path for Men’s Sexual Wellness products.
EP: What was the industry like before you joined it?
JM: A decade ago, sex toys were still suffering from the significant stigma attached to masturbation, particularly penis toys. As a result, the penis toy market was dominated by plastic vaginas and sex dolls – there was a real lack of serious innovation and technical expertise being applied on the manufacturing side and perceptions of the sector stalled growth.
On one memorable occasion in the early days of Hot Octopuss, my business partner and I approached an engineer to do some development on our first PULSE model and he refused; he just wouldn’t work on a sex toy. Given the growth of the customer demand for these products it is difficult to imagine that happening now.
Since then, the industry has managed to break through the stigma around sex and masturbation to some extent. Toys are now more clearly understood as an important part of a meaningful and satisfying sex life. Sexual wellness is a major market now and with that has come increased professionalism on the retail side and technological innovation on the manufacturing side.
But there is still a long way to go on product innovation. When I first started looking at the sex toy market, particularly the penis toy market, I was surprised and disappointed by the lack of choice and innovation. One of the motivations for creating PULSE, our flagship product, was to address this. I believe that the reason our products have been so successful is that very few other companies put the necessary thought and effort into designing and producing innovative sex toys. Now we are focused on continuing to innovate to produce more original and effective products to spice up the market.
EP: What inspired you to create Hot Octopuss?
JM: Like many great ideas, it came from personal need. I’ve always enjoyed vibrations and have created some very funky homemade devices over the years that I have enjoyed very much. The time finally came when I decided that I would ditch these “Do-It-Yourself” devices and instead go onto the internet and find myself a male vibrator specifically designed for this purpose. To my absolute amazement nothing existed. Unlike many toys aimed at women that used clever technology and did things that no human could do (think Rampant Rabbit), all the toys aimed at men were phallic and looked to replicate human interaction. There was certainly nothing available that used technology or vibrations to achieve its goal. Given the size of the potential market, it was at this point that I realized that if I could make a really good vibrating product for penises, that this could potentially be a great selling product.
EP: Did your professional career help prepare you to run your own business?
JM: In a way, yes. I began my working career in the city as a venture capitalist. It was safe to say that this was definitely not the sector for me and following my time in the city, I decided to move into the events industry. Here I worked my way up the corporate ladder eventually become Managing Director of the business. I really enjoyed my time in the events sector. The role was incredibly entrepreneurial, coming up with new concepts and rolling these out globally. This was to stand me in good stead for when the time came to set up Hot Octopuss.
EP: PULSE looks nothing like any other male toy on the market. What made you choose the design?
JM: Our aim has always been to look outside the adult industry for inspiration for our products. When we were first designing PULSE, it was very important to us that the product looked like a beautiful bit of cool tech (which is what it was) rather than a plastic vagina or silicone sleeve (which was where the rest of the market was at the time). The toy needed to function brilliantly – to work from flaccid, to work hands-free and with a partner and to look beautiful. Hence our beautiful design was born. But one of the reasons that PULSE looks so different is because it is so different – it is still one of the only oscillating products for penises and the only one that I know of that can be used from flaccid and allows the user to ejaculate without ever needing to get hard.
EP: Shame has distanced men from using and enjoying sex toys. How does your brand try to change that?
JM: Shame and stigma have been a key barrier for men. We’ve seen demand for penis toys increase every year so it is clear to us that perceptions are changing. By talking loudly and proudly about the importance of masturbation to penis owners as well as to everyone else, and the role that sexual wellness has in overall quality of life, we hope to gradually erode the remaining stigma. But a key challenge is the quality of products available and how effective they are. I cannot stress enough that penises require a different quality of stimulation to vulvas and clitorises. To experience a really fantastic orgasm, penis owners need a deep and rumbly sensation; not the shallow, tinny feeling that many vibrators produce. I believe that many men have been put off buying sex toys as they’ve tried a partner’s vibrator and it just hasn’t been as effective for them as they hoped.
EP: Now that you created vibrating sex toy options for men, do you have a favorite?
JM: We have just brought out an incredibly innovative luxury penis ring called the ATOM PLUS that is extremely powerful and uses some very clever technology. You could say it paves the way for a whole new era of products in this category and I am very proud of what we have been able to achieve with this product. That said, my favorite product has to be the PULSE III SOLO and DUO. Our first Guybrator™ uses oscillations (a type of vibration) to stimulate the penis-owner, rather than the age old up-and-down motion that has been associated with all male toys that came before it. The product can be used hands-free and without the need for the user to have an erection. It was Hot Octopuss’s first product and the product that catapulted us to global success. It has been on the market for some time now and is considered to have revolutionized male masturbation. The science used in this product came from the medical sector where it is used to help men with spinal cord injuries to have children. We adapted the technology and turned it into a commercial product. Saying that, as this product can be used flaccid, it has been incredibly helpful for guys with E.D. and has therefore also been very popular for therapeutic use.
EP: Let’s talk about PULSE. Dubbed the Guybrator and lauded for its creativity, how do you feel this toy has opened up the sexual conversation for men?
JM: The famous Sex and the City episode that popularized the Rampant Rabbit vibrator brought sex toys for female masturbation into the mainstream and made it possible for women to start having conversations they had never felt were acceptable before. Unfortunately, though, the conversation around male masturbation didn’t catch up. When we were developing PULSE, female masturbation was a common topic online and in the media and, while there was still plenty to be done to smash sex stigma around it, there was definitely more positivity towards it than for men. It still seemed that male masturbation was shameful, a seedy joke, certainly not something to celebrate or encourage, and the limited range of products available did nothing to help the situation. With PULSE we created a product that was hi-tech, beautifully designed and did not aim to replicate human sexual interaction. The uniqueness, tech-element and attractiveness of it as a piece of consumer design meant that in promoting it, we gained access to the mainstream media in a way that was unusual for a sex toy company. We were able to start these conversations about why male masturbation is perfectly normal and healthy on platforms that would previously not have covered it. This was always our dream.
In addition, the fact that PULSE is useful for people with ED and mobility issues meant that we could include the element of sex and masturbation being valuable and important and normal for *all penis owners* whatever their age, ability or health status, and these are also very important conversations to be having in the mainstream media.
EP: New toys, new sensations. Now on its 3rd generation, what features have you added to the PULSE III SOLO?
JM: PULSE III SOLO is slightly quieter than previous versions. It also has a ‘turbo’ mode that allows you to jump straight to max power from any starting point – useful if you want to push yourself suddenly over the edge. It has new state-of-the-art magnetic charging and an anti-stall sensor that prevents the motor reducing power if heavy pressure is put on the casing. PULSE III DUO (for couples) has all of the above plus the added bonus of a second motor for the partner that is 25% more powerful than in previous versions.