New Startup Teaches Women How To Masturbate

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Entrepreneurs are well known to push boundaries, but you’ve never heard of any startup like this one before. HappyPlayTime is an edgy new startup developing a game that breaks a social stigma and teaches women how to masturbate. That’s right, what else could “happy play time” mean?

Founded by entrepreneur Tina Gong, HappyPlayTime uses sex-education and mobile games to teach women (and men can learn a few tips too) to explore their personal and inner sexuality. The game is designed to teach users specific techniques by making the mascot, “everyone’s favorite neighborhood friendly vulva,” really happy by reaching an orgasm (for the mascot).

Does this sound a bit wild? Let’s be real here, everyone masturbates. HappyPlayTime is one of the first personalized sex-ed tools to help users discover more about their bodies. Of course there has been some resistance from people who think the subject is gross, but hey, it’s natural and if you can help others learn more about themselves and show support for such a cause, then more power to you.

We had the opportunity of catching up with Tina where she shares where her passion for pleasure came from and what it’s like to launch one of the most risque startups ever.

Tell us a little bit about your background and business experience.

“I did my undergrad at NYU Gallatin, a school I chose because it allowed their students to basically create their own majors. It’s interesting in the context of entrepreneurship, since both are very much about the same thing – creating an educational/professional identity for yourself- it was nice practice. I think prior to all of this, my parents ingrained into me that there are set paths to everything, and suddenly after college, after working with some amazing people at Plum Alley, there was just this wonderful moment where I felt everything was possible.”

Walk us through how you conceived the idea of your mobile game.

“The idea of it has been in the works for a long long time. Of course, what sparked the initial concept was personal experience. Adolescence wasn’t exactly kind to me in terms of figuring that part out about myself. And when I expressed interest to my peers, depending on the people, there was this initial reaction of horror and nausea that I really wasn’t anticipating- even when we were in our early twenties. I think in many ways, I’m drawn to trouble- that reaction made me really see that there was a huge issue that was being tucked under the covers.

The game idea floated into my mind back when I got my first smartphone with a touchscreen, which was admittedly pretty late. Touch, I think, is such a human way of showing affection. The whole premise is that you fall in love with this character, who just wants your love, and that form of love basically is masturbation. I’ve always been drawn to characters- I like creating things that people get attached to, have strange personalities, quirks, oddities, because that’s what people fall in love with. Hopefully, the contradictory mix of cuteness, having the sex-drive of a rabbit and speaking like your grandmother is somewhat endearing. The game was really a fusion of the mission, utilizing a somewhat tactile medium and creating a sense of surprise with the mascot.”

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One of the first things you note in your crowdfunding campaign and other interviews is that you love to masturbate. Have you always had this much confidence to be open about it?

“Oh no, most definitely not. I probably never would have been if it weren’t for the wonders of the internet. In real life interactions, there’s still this whole taboo associated with the topic.”

There are very few resources that teach females to masturbate. Why is that? How did you first learn how to masturbate yourself?

“Well, I think there are more getting out there – I know a lot of women’s magazines are being much more open about it, which is great! It is a really hard thing to teach since each body is really different. What excites one doesn’t necessarily do it for another. I think it’s more about the encouragement of exploring your body in different ways that is important. There is no “right” way to do it and there never will be. It’s just that these are a couple of things to try, opening up paths you might not have explored on your own. And for me, what I learned was pretty accidental like, “Oh! Oh my god what is that?!”

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Where do you get the advice and resources presented in your game from?

“It’s a whole mix, some of it is from experience, some from discussions I’ve had with a couple of very close friends, much of it has been gathered from semi-anonymous online message boards where that kind of discussion is still very open. As the game develops and goes through its final stages, I’m looking to get into contact with sex researchers for more concrete guidance. Sexual Health Innovations, a non-profit utilizing technology to improve sexual health and sexual well being, has a small cozy meetup group that’s been really welcoming with ideas too.

A big part of the app is also not just teaching, but also generating ideas about other ways to explore, which is hopefully what this user-generated database will do.”

What did your friends and family think when you told them about your idea?

“For the most part, everyone has been really really supportive. I’ve been really lucky. If you talk about something with openness and without judgement, it releases people from this weird social vow of silence, and it spreads. I’ve only [received] one really hurtful reaction. One person had told me, “Ew, that’s disgusting, please get that out of my sight!” upon seeing the character, but like I said, it only motivated me to do this even more.”

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Have you run into any challenges or issues with people not taking you seriously either because of your gender or the nature of the product?

“From what I can tell, because it’s such a controversial and intimate topic, much of it has been taken very seriously, more than I could have imagined. Which is great, because on one hand, the mission is something I take very seriously, the overall effects of this game, the execution, the character’s design and personality, the brand- my question about that is whether those specific parts need to be taken seriously. The comedic portion of it is what makes it somewhat viral, and I’m a firm believer in that I don’t necessarily need others to believe in the mission in order for it to succeed. The moment someone sees it, thinks it’s hilarious, and laughs, that becomes the moment where they’re okay enough with the concept of masturbation to laugh about it.

As for myself, I’ve always been an oddball, so to be honest, I’m kind of used to it. I don’t however believe in having a personal self and professional self, in the same way that I don’t believe in separating my sexual self from the rest of my being.”

We hear that you are currently building this business all by yourself! What have been the biggest challenges for you? Any plans to expand your team?

“It’s both a blessing and a curse. I can make decisions really quickly which helps so much. The issue is that I almost get stuck in my own world sometimes without having a counter weight to bounce ideas off of or get opposing opinions from, I occasionally need to breathe and just get out of my own head.

I would love to build a team, but I also want to make sure that the people I work with are as passionate about the cause as I am, which is pretty hard to find. It’s really important to me to be working with people who are motivated by creating social good. Not sure whether that translates to business success in the end, but I’d like to believe that it does.”

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Lastly, What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from this experience?

“I think what’s been coming up over and over again is to fight this urge not to ask for anything. I’ve always been really proud of my self-sufficiency and independence, so I the concept of asking for help has somewhat been associated with weakness for me. It’s stupid, I know. I’m still struggling with it. Launching this campaign is somewhat traumatizing for me in that department, which is related to a second lesson- throwing yourself into situations you’re terrified of is actually really liberating.  It forces you to grow and makes you realize you could do things you never even thought you were capable of before.”

Check out more of HappyPlayTime here.

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