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Screaming Orgasms

9 May 2013 2 comments

How does a young portfolio manager at a NY hedge fund get inspired by his Brazilian girlfriend, of the moment, to start up a sex toy company? And how has it become so successful that he has lost track of how many industry awards the company has won?

Before embarking across to the Gold Coast for AdultEx, Mr Screaming O himself, Justin Ross, stayed at my Kings Park penthouse with me for a few days to ‘Australianise’ himself. Between playing chess, stand up paddle boarding, boxing and tough gym workouts I found the time to get him to answer some questions about how he went from working at a hedge fund to designing and manufacturing sex toys.

My question to Justin:

Justin Ross from Screaming OJustin Ross from Screaming O

It’s a long story, and I’ll tell you another time, of how I went from a surveyor then civil engineer to owning adultshop.com, what I want to know is how did you go from a relatively boring life of managing portfolios to owing a very profitable and award winning sex toy company?

Justin’s response:

"One of the main driving forces was that I desperately wanted to be my own boss. It was 2005 and I saw an opportunity that for me was a Carpe Diem moment (seize the moment). I was laying in bed with my girlfriend, we’d just used a couple of sex toys, and we talked about how cool it’d be to own a sex toy company. After some research I realised that the sex toy industry at that time had quite low barriers of entry and there were gaps in the market particularly for low price disposable sex toys and related products, I thought why not give it a go!"

Me:

You’ve won plenty of awards – tell me about them

Justin:

"A lot of our awards are marketing based – we really push the brand not just the individual products. We’ve won marketing campaign awards, innovator of the year awards, and also as an award for sex toy manufacturer of the year in 2010. And we were voted Women’s Health magazine’s (the US version) top sex toy of the year for 2 years running."

Me:

What’s your #1 best seller?

Justin:

"It’s still our signature product the Screaming O, a disposable cock ring with a small clitoral vibrator attached (its worn at the base of the penis and assists the guy in keeping an erection whilst the vibrator enhance the pleasure for a woman). I guess it’s still our best seller because it’s a couple’s gateway sex toy, a taster if you will. It’s something for both parties! The BIG O, the big sister to the screaming O, also sells quite well."

Me:

So tell me more about this Carpe Diem moment where you recognised a niche in the market – and what you then did. As we both know many people often don’t follow up their good ideas!

Justin:

"It’s funny how these opportunities present themselves. My girlfriend at the time, who was studying at business school, came across a very archaic version of a sex toy and I thought I could do it better. With much market research later (which was me basically handing samples out to all the girls on campus) it became a race between us and Trojan to get the first Screaming O into the marketplace. It really was good timing and clever cheeky marketing that helped our business become successful. We wanted to make our products fun and our marketing and advertising needed to reflect this."

Me:

Where do you manufacture? What manufacturing challenges, such as quality control, do you have?

Justin:

"Our products are manufactured in China and we package them in the US. We have a quality control manager on the ground in China who continuously visits the factories conducting extensive checks. It’s certainly worth the investment! Pretty much 15% of my work day is spent dealing with the manufacturing of our products, and (laughs…& jokes) the rest is spent dealing with legalities!"

Me:

What new products are you currently working on?

Justin:

"We always have lots of new concepts in the works (watch this space) but for now we are in the development stages of masturbator sleeves for men and also some new remote control bullets. A new product takes about 6 months development time from concept to a packaged item."

Me:

Where do you see the sex toy industry heading?

Justin:

"It is certainly becoming more competitive with many more product lines. The good news is this drives innovation further. And now, more than ever, building a brand and not just a product becomes paramount. It’s great to see these products selling in more mainstream outlets like Walgreens in the US. Even websites like Amazon now sell sex toys. We’re lucky that we have a unique product that’s able to be sold in lots of different outlets including through vending machines in casinos and strip clubs."

Me:

How has technology impacted your business?

Justin:

"When I started it was a 24 hour job for me! There was constant emailing until midnight, for example back and forth with the manufacturers, however now it’s done so much more efficiently through shared folders online. Social media like facebook not only helps us grow our brand but also assists us in understanding what our customers want. It’s far easier than handing out samples on campus!"

Me:

How many industry tradeshows worldwide do you attend?

Justin:

"We used to attend 18-20 shows a year (AdultEx in Australia is of course my favourite…. laughs). Now we only attend about 12-15 a year. It’s still a great place to talk 1 on 1 with distributors and also retailers. And we get to have a bit of fun as most people attenmding the shows are quite cool."

Me:

You meet and hang out with a lot of porn stars. I’ve seen you in action. Who’s your favourite?

Justin:

"Gee that’s hard to answer.I have lots of favourites! It’s not so much about their looks for me. It’s more about their sex appeal and how much fun they are."

Me:

Any celebrities you know own a screaming O?

Justin:

(laughs) "Yeah a lot of US pro athletes and entertainers order our toys. A doctor friend of mine is a neighbour of Paris Hilton. She tells me she’s a big fan. I’ll say no more J"

I’m good friends with Justin and it was great to be able to show him around Perth on his first visit here (he loves Perth beaches, Kings Park, our city and our women). It was also good to chat with him at his booth at AdultEx where he went through all the new products with me. Obviously he gave me plenty of samples to try. I’ll catch up with Justin at the ANME trade show in LA in July.

Next week I’m going to share with you some notes I took over a coffee meeting I had with Chad Braverman (the son of Ron and the heir to the Doc Johnson Empire). Doc Johnson is one of the world’s largest sex toy manufacturers with offices and manufacturing in LA. They’ve made many women across the globe very happy having developed the famous ivibe rabbit!

I look forward to hearing your questions and reading your comments.

Delivering passion and pleasure.

Mal

Jazzy 9 May 2013 at 11:28 am
Fabulous blog....so easy to read and interesting, especially on a subject most people try and avoid talking about....Now, where's my Jack Rabbit.
Renae 14 May 2013 at 9:48 pm
Mal, not just a hot bod & generous nature....but a great blogger aswell! Won't mention the chess though!! ;) Renae
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