A man who sold his £325,000 (GH¢2,237,515) home and Mercedes to set up a sex toy company says it was all worth it, despite the fact he’s still sleeping on a blow-up bed in his office.
Tom Thurlow decided to throw everything at his idea to launch a new range of vibrators for women and has spent the past three years learning everything he can about the industry.
Last week his hard work paid off when he launched Ricky, but it’s a huge risk as he’s invested pretty much everything he has into the venture.
The 29-year-old sold the £325,000 Gloucestershire home he bought with profits from his last business success, cashed in his Premium Bonds and got rid of his fancy car to free up as much cash as possible.
He moved back to his parents’ house for a while but says they got fed up with him, so he decided to set up a make-shift home behind his desk.
Tom has tried to make it as homely as possible and bulk buys Pot Noodles on Amazon to keep his spending as low as possible.
Tom told Mirror Online: “It was everything really. I just decided, if I’m going to be in I need to be all in.
“I really believe in it and I’m a risk-taker. My whole life is in it.
“I’m happy to lose it all if that’s the way it goes.
“I just think that whatever happens with Brexit, people are still going to want to masturbate.”
The idea came about when his last business, a dating website for students called ShagAtUni, started to drop off.
He said: “I enjoyed a lot of success with ShagAtUni but it started to drop off when apps like Tinder came on the market.
“Rather than flogging a dead horse I just wanted to do something different. I just thought sex toys seemed the most exciting.
“I don’t take myself seriously. I don’t think sex is a big deal like most people in society do.
“People weren’t surprised when I told them. Most people think it’s great and they think it’s quite cool and exciting.
“There have been a couple of people who didn’t agree with the sex toy stuff and they think it’s seedy. That’s fine, everyone has their opinions but I will have a debate with them and challenge them.
“My biggest critic is my mum, she just thinks it’s horrifying.”
After coming up with the idea Tom booked a flight to cheap flight to China to learn as much as he could about the production industry and things went from there.
Despite having one bad experience when he was nearly ripped off by a fake business he found on the internet, he managed to learn a lot about materials, safety and production.
He said: “It’s been a really interesting learning curve. There have been a lot of hurdles along the way.”
His trips to China did product one particularly embarrassing moment for Tom, and he says it was the low point of the business.
He was travelling back to the UK with a suitcase full of test products – about 50 vibrators – when he was pulled in by airport security.
He spent about two hours being questioned by staff about what the items were and why he had so many of them and ended up missing his flight.
He said: “It was awful. It took them a long time to realise what they were. They were just looking at me with stern expressions.
“They just kept asking me in broken English what it was.
“I was travelling on my own, so it just looks dodgy as hell.
“It doesn’t get any more humiliating than it did then. That was definitely a low point.”
Tom decided to focus his attentions on women’s sex toys and he wants to address the stigma that surrounds female masturbation.
He said: “It’s really bizarre that a woman is judged on masturbation, I just don’t get it.
“I’m really focusing on women who have never had a sex toy before.
“So many of my female friends haven’t tried one before. It’s just not something they’ve considered for themselves.
“Some think it’s for sexaholics of something.”
His Ricky range has four key items, and he’s also teamed up with other partners to offer more products.
One of the aspects he’s particularly proud of is that fact his entire range is rechargeable, which means women won’t have to keep buying and replacing batteries.
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