CouplePlay: Marcus Miller and John Patrick
CouplePlay is a sex box subscription service, aiming to help couples re-energise their sex lives
Name of founders: Marcus Miller and John Patrick
Age of founders: 35 and 36
Date launched: 4th January 2021
Number of employees: 4
Which university, if any, did you attend? Neither of us attended university.
Co-founders Marcus Miller and John Patrick launched CouplePlay, a subscription service in which sex boxes with products and ideas are delivered to customers on either a monthly or quarterly basis. Miller and Patrick discuss the process of starting up…
What does your business do?
CouplePlay is a sex box subscription business that helps couples keep their sex life fresh, fun and exciting.
Based on preferences captured via our website coupleplay.com, once a month we send out a box consisting of sex toys, games, lingerie, tips, sex accessories and other exciting ideas for couples to enjoy together. Subscribers can create their own online profiles, ensuring items are a perfect match for their needs.
We also offer high quality content via our blog, podcast, and other social media platforms, providing tips and advice that followers have access to 24/7.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
After watching a TV show where couples described their own sex lives as predictable, we felt inspired. We noticed that the market was missing a service designed specifically to help couples improve their sex lives together at any stage of their relationship.
Also during the Covid pandemic, one of the key trends we have noticed is that there is now a greater sense of boredom in practically every aspect of daily life, across almost every age group.
Things that once excited us have now become mundane, which is why we’re striving to bring back a little bit of a spark, particularly in relationships, which is an area that has notoriously suffered from the additional pressures that the COVID-19 crisis has introduced.
How did you know there was a market for it?
Most relationships go through cycles. At some stage in a relationship, things will become a bit stagnant or mundane regarding bedroom activity. When this happens it can be hard to be proactive and find ways to add some spice back into your sex life.
We felt there is a market of people who would like some help with this, due to either lack of expertise or lack of time. Searching through multiple websites and reading each review can be very time-consuming. We felt we could take the stress out of your search for pleasure and really help couples across the UK.
What were you doing before launching your business?
We were both working for local authorities within statutory youth provision. Marcus was working at Islington Council and John at Lambeth Council.
Have you always dreamed of starting a business?
Yes. We have always said we would like to work for ourselves one day. We feel we really make a good team, with John being the more creative one, and Marcus focusing on business strategy. We're a partnership and we compliment each other.
How did you finance your business?
We both had savings so we combined our savings and used this as the initial startup capital for the business. This has been good as it's meant we have really spent wisely and kept a keen eye on costs and outgoings.
Explain your business model and how you make money.
We have a surprise box subscription business model. Based on individual preferences, subscribers receive a monthly or quarterly box consisting of sex toys, tips, guides, new experiences, games, challenges, and exciting ideas for couples to enjoy together.
Our wealth of knowledge and expertise allows us to pick the perfect items for each couple to ensure a new and fun sexual experience based on their unique preferences.
Our customers subscribe and pay us every month or every quarter.
What are the main challenges you have faced? And how did you overcome them?
We are really still very new but like any new business, the challenge is letting enough people know you exist. We feel we have a good idea but we need to let as many couples in the UK know about us as possible and that is not simple or easy.
We plan to begin creating content on YouTube aimed at couples, and we feel the power of YouTube and its ability to put you in front of people will help us spread our brand message.
What has your experience been of starting a business during a pandemic?
Suppliers have been helpful and supportive. Everybody is in the same boat in terms of Covid having an impact, but we're still really new to business and the experience so far has been good.
Describe your first breakthrough.
We launched on the 4th January and instantly got subscribers, which is encouraging. You can plan and try to prepare as best you can but there really is nothing like launching, and someone who you don't know or are connected to, logging onto your website and subscribing to your product. We really see our first subscribers as our breakthrough as they will get their box and hopefully enjoy it enough to tell others.
How has Brexit impacted your business? Do you think it will in the future?
We hope to dispatch our boxes to couples worldwide. We haven't yet got any international customers but when we do, we envisage the new laws around international trade and dispatching products overseas might affect our business. At the moment, all our subscribers are UK-based, so let's see how our customer base develops.
What advice would you give to other aspiring business owners?
If you believe in your idea and really think you can make a difference to someone's life with your business then you just need to start. So much wasted time is spent with people procrastinating, but the truth is follow your heart and passions. The worst case is if the business doesn't work, you will have had fun running a business you're passionate about and you would have learned loads of new skills.
What is one resolution you have for your business this year?
Make it through to next year! We hope to be trading and growing our subscriber base over the next 12 months. If we do that, we would have reached our goals.
How do you see your business developing in the next three years?
As well as growing our subscriber base and having customers in different countries, we want to venture into manufacturing our own products within our boxes.
We want to get to a point where you cannot get items that come in our boxes because we're the only company that makes them and they are specifically made to go in CouplePlay boxes.
Currently, we buy products from manufacturers but we hope in three years that at least 50% of the contents in our box have been produced by us in-house.
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