WHEN people asked Brian Sloan’s mother what her son did for a living she used to reply “import export” and leave it at that.
But these days Mr Sloan’s family is more comfortable with telling people that he has invented some of the world’s most popular sex toys.
For the past eight years, Very Intelligent eCommerce Inc. chief executive Mr Sloan has been based in Beijing, China where he designs, sources and distributes “masturbators …(and) dildos” across the globe.
The American former lawyer said business was booming and the company’s sales were projected for $US10m ($A13.5m) this year.
“At this point it is very profitable for me personally … The profit from the business is a substantial amount of money,” Mr Sloan told news.com.au.
“Masturbation is a normal part of life, and people are becoming more and more open to improving their masturbation by using a product. I’m benefiting from this trend.”
‘The Autoblow 2’ – “a masturbator for men” — is the company’s bestseller.
The “oral sex simulating robot” got off the ground after Mr Sloan turned to a crowd-funding site for donations to manufacture the device and raised $283,000.
He said he used the money “towards the tooling and manufacturing of the first round of 5000 units”.
The ‘Autoblow 2’ has since become “the highest funded male sex toy of all time”. The company has sold about 90,000 of them all over the world since it was launched two years ago, according to Mr Sloan.
He said the demand for the devices in Australia was so strong that he this month shipped a container of them to a Melbourne warehouse so buyers didn’t have to wait so long to receive their orders.
“The original Autoblow was not my own invention, it was a standard type of battery powered masturbator available since the 90s which I sourced from a factory and improved a bit,” he said.
Mr Sloan has built an empire in the sex toy industry. He also designs, sources and distributes about 100 other products. His other notable inventions include the “Slaphappy … a flat bendable vibrator”.
“The other is called 3Fap, which is a male masturbator with three orifices — mouth, vagina, anus,” Mr Sloan said.
“There is a couple of boring silicone dildos we’ve sold tens of thousands of last year.
“I’ve been doing this for eight years or so, and have taken significant personal risk to build it to this point.”
Mr Sloan, 35, gave up his law career when he “realised there was no potential for very large financial gain”.
“Even worse, I knew I would be only an average or at best slightly above average lawyer, competing against people who could much more efficiently work through legal problems,” he said.
“I realised that lawyers rent their brains out by the hour, not unlike prostitutes renting out their bodies by the hour.
“Latex fetish wear become my entry point into the sex toy business.”
Mr Sloan said he saw an opportunity to make money online when he discovered that niche “fetish wear” items including “latex for very fat or very tall people” fetched “very high prices” but had few suppliers.
“I studied the niche and learned everything I never thought I’d know about latex fetishists. I found a supplier. I then began importing latex fetishwear, bondage gear, inflatable gear, all types of rather unusual kit,” he said.
He said the running of his company was as non-traditional as its products.
“I work alone every day in a cafe. There is one guy who is like a partner who helped me build the business since the beginning in Romania. We take turns travelling between Bucharest and Beijing, doing two week working trips every three months,” Mr Sloan said.
“Our programmers are in Romania, customer service people are on three continents, designers in Hong Kong, Argentina, Germany, and we have probably 20-plus specialised service providers I can call on when I need specialised work like video editing.”
Mr Sloan said the reason he “got into the (sex toy) business” was simple.
“(It) has nothing to do with sex or any personal interest in sex toys as many people assume,” he said.
“It had only to do with the size of the opportunity I saw in selling sex toys online, and especially in selling them in a different way than anyone else had done before.”
Mr Sloan said his family was now supportive of his business ventures.
“At first my mum was embarrassed and for several years told her friends I was living in China doing ‘import export’,” he said.
“Of course now fast forward some years where I’ve become successful in my field, and she’s showing her friends my article in the June edition of Playboy, which is actually mostly about my Vaginal Beauty Contest. So she’s come a long way.”
Mr Sloan’s listed his greatest career achievement as making “an action plan (for a) ‘Vagina Contest’ and execut(ing) it perfectly”.
“I had a contest on Vaginacontest.com that went super viral around the world,” he said.
“Women submitted photos of their vulvas, the public voted on them, and we are just about finished replicating the winning vulva onto the top of a sleeve for the Autoblow.
“We even followed that contest up with the first ever scrotal beauty contest at ballscontest.com.” None of our competitors have accomplished anything close to this in terms of people reached.”
Mr Sloan said he has a “few things in the works right now”.
“Another genitalia-related beauty contest is coming, which I’m quite excited about,” he said.
“Personally though I’m writing a guide on how others can be successful with an online business. I’d like to share my experiences with people and hopefully positively influence other people who are thinking about a life of entrepreneurship.
“My work may well be perverted or obscene, that’s the fun part,” he said.
“I’ve always had a strange sense of humour.”