Liz Klinger is the Co-founder and CEO of Lioness, a company dedicated to improving the lives of women by opening up the conversation around women’s sexual health using technology. After leaving her job at an investment bank to pursue her passion of gender and sexuality, she sold intimacy products to women of all ages. Liz has been featured in the The New York Times’ Women of the World and was named a Ladies We Love by Ravishly. She has given a TEDx talk on pleasure-based sex education, interviewed on Huffington Post Live’s morning show, and spoken at top universities about women’s health and technology. She’s also an award-winning artist and her work has been featured in a number of publications and independent shows.
Sophie: Please tell us about Lioness, the “FitBit of vibrators.”
Liz: Lioness is the first and only vibrator that helps you improve your orgasms. Experiment, understand, and have better orgasms by actually seeing and getting real data about what’s happening.
People have used the Lioness Vibrator and app like a sex diary to try new things, track how their health affects their pleasure, and experiment with how different substances (like alcohol or cannabis or, yes, even weed lube) can change their experience. Hint, all of these things can affect you a LOT, but not everything is obvious because it can be hard to track nuances, especially over time.
This method is similar to the sort of diaries sex therapists sometimes recommend to people when they want to improve their sex life. The downside to journaling and tracking is that it’s hard to keep up, and it’s not like you’d want to keep a stopwatch next to you when you’re doing your thing. Lioness makes this easier because it automates a lot of the process and is able to track nuances that might be hard to know in the moment (since, you know, you’d want to be focusing on having a good time instead).
Sophie: How did you come to create it?
Liz: Through lots and lots (and lots) of iteration. It certainly didn’t happen overnight. There was a lot of perfecting the technology and getting user feedback, as well as figuring out how to make a vibrator that is high-quality, well designed, and enjoyable for as many people as possible.
Sophie: Why was it important for you to bring this smart vibrator to market?
Liz: I’ve had questions about my body, and especially my reproductive health, for all my life and nowhere to get answers. Real sex advice was few and far between, even if you try asking your doctor, unless they have gotten (and are interested in) pleasure-centric education, many would agree that there just isn’t enough information out there that is helpful, especially when you factor in individual circumstances.
The more I learned about what we knew and what was common knowledge about sexual pleasure, the more I realized that we barely know anything and there was a lot to learn, even among research and medical professionals.
The last major research on arousal and orgasms took place in the 1980s — when researchers measured the vaginal activity of just 11 women. We consulted with doctors, therapists, and researchers, and they agreed this was a field sorely in need of more concrete information and less speculation.
Having access to knowledge, should you want it, can open up many doors for exploring, learning, and getting in touch with your body in ways that were previously not possible.
Now that the product has been out for a while, we’re starting to see how much this kind of access to information can be helpful for people. Just the other day, we got an email from someone who got the Lioness as part of her healing process for getting back in touch with her body. It’s moments and stories like those that make me really happy to bring this product to life that can help people in ways that were previously never possible.
Sophie: Did you encounter any special hurdles as a young femtech company?
Liz: Plenty. Early on we had a number of mentors and investors ask why, despite our education and backgrounds, we decided to focus on women’s pleasure. Which was a dumb question to me, because if anything, having more smart, dedicated, and passionate people in anything can help a lot. It’s not demeaning to work in sextech and femtech. If anything, it’s made us stronger and more confident than ever.
Sophie: I think many women (me included!) have some sense that sexuality plays a role in overall wellbeing but don’t necessarily understand how much or in what way. Could you speak to this?
Liz: There’s a lot we just don’t notice because we’re busy and there’s a lot going on. But everything is interconnected, especially when it comes to our health. We’ve already had people start identifying changes to their pleasure and health from trying different techniques, substances, changes to their health, or something else, that they wouldn’t have made the connection to if they didn’t have a way to more easily track and be conscious of it. These little things that we do and experience can have a huge impact on our lives. For people who want to improve their life and, for many, paying some attention to your sex life and satisfaction (whether you’re single or in a relationship) is like a low hanging fruit for massively improving your life in general.
Sophie: Are there any myths related to women’s sexual wellness or pleasure you’d like to dispell for us today?
Liz: It doesn’t matter how much you already know, anyone can benefit from some sexual exploration. A willingness to be curious, learn more, and expand our minds would do us a lot of good in matters of life and sex.
Sophie: What’s the biggest thing you wish people would ask you about and why?
Liz: Anything but the company, ha. It’s hard because I know my line of work will be inherently pretty interesting to most people, but sometimes I just want to be asked about my day or about a funny series I’m watching.
Sophie: What’s something anyone can do to work on her sexual wellness today?
Liz: Listen to your body. It has a lot to say, and there are many reasons why you feel one way one day, and another way the next.
Sophie: Any last words or parting advice?
Liz: Be your best self now. It makes life more fun that way!
About the author:
Anne-Sophie Bousset ("Sophie" to English-speaking friends), is a freelance marketer and community builder. She helps companies build their brand, attract clients, and build a community around their product. Her favorite things include sunshine, yoga, reading, and lazy Sundays in with her cat, Phelps. She can be found on Twitter @Sophie_Bousset.