profile

WIA Profile: Veronique Verreault

WIA Profile: Veronique Verreault

Each month, industry news media organization XBIZ spotlights the career accomplishments and outstanding contributions of Women in Adult. WIA profiles offer an intimate look at the professional lives of the industry's most influential female executives.

Veronique Verreault is one feisty French-Canadian. This sex tech company founder has single-handedly dealt with a barrage of rejection, R&D gone horribly wrong, and an unfortunately timed Android app update — and that’s all before she sold a single product.

You can spend years getting a university degree, but real schooling comes through life experience.

Verreault fits a lot of hats on her head at Miss VV’s Mystery, the business behind her flagship product, Miss On The Go, an app-controlled kegel vibrator that connects to a Tinder-esque social media network.

With the exception of a few investors and contractors, Verreault runs the entire show herself, a task that somehow leaves this energetic entrepreneur with enough gusto to go hiking after work.

If Verreault isn’t yet the poster child for the sex tech start-up world, she will be after the pleasure industry gets a peek into the mile-high climaxes and hellishly low pitfalls she’s navigated with grace, intelligence, and most of all, a fighting spirit.

Verreault is our pick for this month’s Women in Adult spotlight because she’s got the number-one attribute of an industry legend in the making: infinite perseverance.

XBIZ: How did you get into the sex toy industry, and what series of life events created the confident, savvy CEO we see today?

Verreault: I had many jobs before starting Miss VV’s Mystery. I have a background in administration and management as well as art performance. I worked in a hotel when I was younger, and my dream was to have my own hotel.

When I started working in the field, I realized it wasn’t for me for many reasons, starting with the lack of passion I saw from my colleagues. It was a fake environment, and I didn’t like it.

However, I learned a lot. I finished my BAC in management and was working in a school at the same time. I ended up having a great position in administration at the school during the day while going to school at night to finish my BAC. I learned a lot there. But again, I saw and felt no passion at all.

I was also a belly dance performer on the weekends and I gave classes, too. Belly dance was how I really connected with myself and my sensuality, as well as with sex toys, obviously! When you go on stage, put a smile on, and show your confidence, it’s like therapy for me, and I was sharing my passion with others.

I guess my energy and passion for dance showed a lot since I was fully booked for two years. When I was giving classes, I was putting a lot of emphasis on self-confidence and self-love for your body so it would show in the performances. My students loved it, and that’s the guideline I kept with Miss VV’s Mystery: to love yourself truly and feel good about yourself through a healthy sex life.

I was wearing the LELO Hula Beads at work and at night school without anyone knowing it. I knew about the health benefits of sex toys and Kegel exercisers and it made me feet good at the same time. My meetings were discretely more fun for me than anyone else, haha!

I stopped working for the school when I realized I needed to work full time on Miss VV’s Mystery. At some point, it became extremely demanding because I was dealing with many people and leading a project on my own without any product development experience before.

I’m blessed. My family supported me by helping me obtain my university degree. It truly helped me get the tools I needed to bring Miss VV alive. I could have stayed in another job, but my need to create something and make a difference was just too big. I love pushing myself and achieving goals. I will always remember when I thought up the idea of Miss On the Go. I was at work and sexting someone with my LELO Hula Beads inside of me. And then, I just couldn’t stop thinking about it.

My true passion is to create a movement with this product; a movement to help women own their sexuality, their bodies, and their self-esteem and self-confidence in order for them to succeed in life and accomplish whatever they choose.

XBIZ: What was your experience with sex toys long before the days of Miss VV’s Mystery, and what was it like creating a sex toy of your own?

Verreault: I have used sex toys since I was a teenager. It helped me to know myself and my body, what I liked and disliked. When I discovered Ben Wa balls and all the health benefits related to them, I was completely amazed and had to tell everyone I knew.

When finishing up my degree in management, I was looking for a project to get into right after graduation. I wanted to accomplish something in my life and push myself into a project that I would be proud of and that would be useful for my target audience.

During that fateful night when I was sexting at work with my LELO Kegel balls inside of me, I realized, oh my God, this is it! I’ll create a sex toy with a mobile app!

Of course, I needed to do a lot of research and have professionals, including a sexologist and a focus group, to help me in my journey with Miss On the Go. But basically, the opportunity was there.

I was the very first in the world to produce a flexible and ergonomic antenna for a Kegel device. The others were rigid or wouldn’t work properly inside the vagina. The trials and errors in product development can be painful and expensive! But my solution was on point! For us women, taking care of our sexual health creates all these positive effects in our life and a smile on our faces.

XBIZ: You built your business from the ground up and dove head-first into a brand-new industry. Can you give us a behind-the-scenes peek at the real-life adventures of a sex tech start-up founder?

Verreault: I’ve learned so much during these last few years. You can spend years getting a university degree, but real schooling comes through life experience. L’école de la vie, we say in French! And it hurts a lot sometimes. I had so many ups and downs when starting this project. It’s been a real roller coaster!

When I was in New York City shooting the crowdfunding video and trying to get testimonials on Miss On The Go from random people in the street, it was tough. It was then that I realized people were shy about talking openly about sex.

I was even giving candy to people who were game to answer my questions honestly. It took me 45 minutes of parading around with my Miss VV sign in Times Square to get my first positive response from a stranger! Oh boy, I’ll never forget it!

I attended my first trade show, the Everything To Do With Sex Show in Montreal, after my crowdfunding campaign was launched just 24 hours earlier. Nobody knew me and I didn’t anyone either. I was so nervous. As I put my nail polish on before the show started, I was shaking and nauseous.

Thankfully my good friend was there with me at the booth to calm me down. I was waiting for my new industrial designer to come and deliver the two product prototypes I needed rushed to the show because a previous team member tried to steal my idea behind my back with their lawyers, so I changed my team last-minute. That was a lot of stress.

My whole family and close friends came to see me there and I really needed their support. I have an incredible support around me and without them, I wouldn’t be at this stage where I’m at today.

I also remember all these rejections from banks and investors, even fake investors pretending to have money that tried to drain my finances. I even went to a casino in Montreal in 2015 with a dress on and diamonds, trying to spot people who could be interested in investing. “Hey, you, want to gamble on my business instead?!” My friends and I are still laughing about that one, but jeez, that’s how desperate was I. Nothing was going to stop me.

The first time I visited my manufacturers in China, I ended up crying in my hotel room. Our communication wasn’t very good and we had so much issues. I arrived in China with my high heels and my luggage, red-faced and clacking my heels as I walked. People at the airport were practically running away from me! I eventually had to learn from an Asian friend how to properly act in accordance with Chinese cultural standards to move things forward with my factory.

The next day, I arrived at the manufacturer and we sat down and tackled the product issues together. We were finally understanding each other and the project manager took notice of my work ethic. It was a memorable moment when he looked me in the eyes and said, “You work hard VV, I respect you now. My cellphone is open 24/7 for you.”

From that moment, I never needed any translator, and the communication went smoothly. I needed to show up in person, as a young white woman, to earn my respect and move the project forward with the Chinese team (which was all males, and I was really proud of being the only woman).

XBIZ: Did the tech aspects of Miss On The Go create as many trials and tribulations along the way?

Verreault: When the MOTG boxes finally arrived in Canada, I cried with happiness and relief. I was so emotional.

It turned out, however, that the Android update at that time was not compatible with the Bluetooth software inside the product. The result? All my distributors backed down (except for one) and told me to come back when it was resolved.

Talk about your worst nightmare! I had zero sales in the first year, and I had to task five different developer teams to fix the issue, which was originally supposed to take 1 month and a few thousand dollars. It cost me $50,000 in the end, and I was still working a full-time job on top of everything to pay the bills and keep going. It was very frustrating, but I was hanging in there.

I got kicked out of the Google Play Store, too. I fought back and needed to adapt a few things in order to have my app back up and running. And I lost customers again!

XBIZ: What kind of impact do you hope to make with Miss On The Go?

Verreault: I want people to feel good about themselves, starting with owning their sexuality. It really starts from there. Have you ever seen someone look angry and frustrated during orgasm? Of course not! The more we talk about sex and desensitize the subject, the more people will feel comfortable and good. Happy sex life = happy life!

I chose my slogan — “Confidence is sexy” — with my mission to help women discover their sexuality and accomplish themselves. The self-esteem created through a healthy sex life is what brings self-confidence. And with self-confidence, you can achieve anything you want in life. That’s only MY story with Miss VV’s Mystery, so I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way!

Look at all the data collected by Bryony Cole of Future of Sex. Look at what Cindy Gallop from Make Love Not Porn is telling us about women’s behavior surrounding sex. Look at what Polly Rodriguez from Unbound is doing! We’re all in this together and what I bring is my personal touch, Miss On the Go, to help women out there achieve it.

XBIZ: What powerful industry figures inspired you on your journey?

Verreault: From the sex toy industry, I first approached Brigitte Castelli, previously the owner of a sex shop in my hometown. I entered her store like a Tasmanian devil! She was laughing and knew I was going to succeed. She helped me with many questions I had in the research phase. Her experience helped me, and she’s still a true supporter at heart today.

Manon from Shunga is also a huge hero of mine. I got inspired by their brand and packaging, and they’re also from my hometown, Montreal. I approached them to get some tips and help. I eventually became friends with them, especially Manon, the owner, and their amazing sales rep, Linda, whom I call my “Industry Aunt.”

Also from Montreal is my “Industry Dad,” Sylvain Dubois from SD Variations. He’s been extremely important to me since the prototype phase. He’s helped me a lot with some tough situations. That man shared 30 years of experience with me, and I am blessed to have him with me in this venture. He’s so smart and he truly cares about Miss On the Go. He loves my message and mission and has been encouraging me a lot.

I started collaborating with BMS recently as well and I love their family business! I met the entire family during the summer at their BMS Expo with their staff and they’ve been very supportive of me in terms of pushing the brand and giving me tips here and there. They’re another Canadian leader in the industry helping a sex tech woman to push her mission across the globe.

And of course, all the women who are part of Women of Sex Tech! We exchange and share so much to help each other. Most specifically, I have to give props to Bryony Cole from Future of Sex, Estrella Jaramillo from B-WOM, Suzanne Sinatra from Private Packs, Christel Le Coq from SexTech for Good (previously the owner of Sensory, Little Bird), my new official sexologist, Cyndi Darnell, and Isabelle Deslauriers from Désirables.

Carol and David from the Sexy Lifestyle swingers’ podcast are amazing influences as well, and they’re also from Montreal. We talk a lot on how to approach situations, as they have a lot of experience. They’re also just fun to hang out with!

I’m extremely grateful to have these people in my life.

XBIZ: What’s a day-in-the-life like at Miss VV’s Mystery?

Verreault: Miss On the Go is Always On the Go! I run the entire company myself with some team collaborators. In short, I have to know my shit and have a lot in my head! Plus, I also work here and there at some contract jobs aside from Miss VV’s Mystery. My days and nights are full.

Being an entrepreneur is far from all the sexy and fake bullshit you see on Instagram. It’s sweat, pain, dedication, perseverance, resilience, hours and hours of work, endless efforts, sacrifices, computer time, discouragements, great news, ups and downs, emotions and so on!

I’ve worked my ass off since 2014 on this project. I believe in it. And I can finally see real results coming out of it!

XBIZ: We’ve heard the good, the bad, and the ugly, and lots of it. Now tell us the funny

Verreault: I finally had a prototype working and was able to control it inside of me with the app and without constant disconnections like I used to experience. It’s normal when you create a new product and have lots of R & D to go through! I was very emotional and proud.

There’s a funny story that happened in China while testing the devices and the signal. They were showing me how far the signal could go, but I needed to test it inside of me to make a conclusion. I don’t think they thought I was going to be game to just go in the bathroom, put a condom on the tester, and bam! Here we go, let’s do this test right here! It didn’t connect inside of me back then, but I was able to show them the importance of testings!

XBIZ: Where do you see businesses taking the pleasure industry in the future, especially now that more women are creating change?

Verreault: We’re taking over. By we, I mean women. Especially for sex toys made for vaginas! Made by women for women, it makes sense! I’m seeing that all our efforts combined are making the world more open about sexuality. Look at Bryony Cole from Future of Sex, pushing and kicking boundaries in media. She has a powerful voice. Cindy Gallop was able to raise 2.5 M after 9 years of rejections! Finally, the queens of sex tech are leading the cause and getting investors to help us. Polly Rodriguez recently won 2nd place at Tech Crunch. The mentality is changing and that’s part of our mission. More sex tech companies with great solutions and innovations will be able to see the sun, as long as we keep fighting together.

XBIZ: How would you sum up 2018, and what keeps you excited for 2019?

Verreault: This year, I received my first XBIZ nomination for Most Innovative Sex Toy of the Year. I was crying with joy! I couldn’t believe it. My family couldn’t stop talking about it to everyone!

I’ve gotten all these testimonials from some of my consumer customers telling me I made a difference in their sex life. Some even started their own business projects because of my story and they felt inspired.

The tough moments are the ones that make you. We’re warriors in this industry. We push boundaries. We find ways to advertise because mainstream media won’t let us. We face judgments and rejections a lot, but we don’t care. We keep going because we know how much of a difference we bring to happy people. Rock on to all of us!

In the new year, I’ll be attending the XBIZ awards in Los Angeles. I’m also looking forward to more media coverage with my sexologist, Cyndi Darnell, and a new podcast series with Mel Goyer, founder of the sexual health Festivulve event in Montreal.

Personally, I want to focus on more meditation, more hiking, staying sane and centered – for myself and the betterment of the company. And many other things I can’t announced yet! One step at a time.