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Minna Ola
(available first from Babeland) is, to put it plainly, a revolution in sex toys.  This remarkable vibrator is the first designed with a responsive squeeze pad:  you can squeeze as hard or as soft as you like, in any pattern, and Ola vibrates it back to you on a continuous loop.  No more preset patterns -- you decide how Ola vibrates.  And it's so easy to use, we think nearly anyone will have a blast with it.  To learn more about the masterminds and development behind this genius toy, read our interview with John Pelochino, Founder/CEO of Minna!

Babeland: How did the concept for Ola develop?

John: Honestly, it really began as a solution to my need for better pleasurable experiences with my wife.

Babeland: Necessity is the mother of invention, after all.

John:  Exactly.  And it didn’t hurt that our team skill set was a perfect match for the sex toy industry; it just made sense.  It all started about two years ago; I purchased a “premium pleasure product” from the internet after reading a design/gadget blog in which the blog promised the toy would “spice things up.”  It wasn’t cheap, and my expectations were high.  We had never used a pleasure product together, and my wife was excited.  When it arrived in the mail, she ripped open the package.

The first thing that happened: my wife couldn’t figure out how to turn the thing on.  Once I showed her how to get the vibrator working, she couldn’t change the speed/intensity or pattern.  (And no, she didn’t read the manual, nor will she ever.)

BabelandReading a lengthy and complicated manual can be pretty tedious.  Most people just won’t do it.  

John:  Yes.  And even once we got it on and going, the partner interaction felt sterile and unsexy, almost inhuman.  Sure, it helped get the job done, but moving from manual stimulation to blindly holding a product in place left me missing a level of connection, teasing, and involvement. And it didn’t help having to fumble around for buttons in the dark to adjust the thing.  When I went shopping for better toys, everything I saw had buttons and more buttons that toggled through set profiles with pre-set intensity levels.  And the biggest “aha” moment was one that I didn’t expect: I had to ask the staff how to turn on or control most of the devices.  Now, I'm a mechanical engineer with degrees from Berkeley and Stanford.  I wondered to myself how most people learn to operate these “innovative toys” if I can’t even figure out how to turn them on.

This experience was the catalyst for Minna and it led to the creation of Ola.  We came together as a team with a simple goal: to create a toy that could enhance sexual experiences with an intuitive design for ease of use.  We focused on creating an interface that would be usable out of the box, and on providing an easy way to control the vibration, pattern and intensity.  With lots of feedback from testers, we developed our unique squeezable interface for the ultimate in ease and comfort -- it feels amazing in the hand, and allows the user to adjust the intensity and pattern easily.

Babeland: It really is remarkably intuitive to use.  How long did it take to develop and refine the Ola technology?

John: The development process has taken two years.  We wanted to take our time; quality is extremely important to us.

Babeland: And who’s the team behind Ola?

John: Ola designers include every individual who has touched, used or discussed any of our prototypes or products in any way.  We feel that each person has been critical to our development as a company and to the creation of this product; they are all part of our team.  We’ve had a Core Group: John Pelochino (Founder/CEO), Jonathan Thomas (Founder/COO), Brian Krieger (Founder/CFO), and Akbar Dhanaliwala (Founder/CPO).  We’re all Ivy League-educated engineers/designers who specialize in smart product design (the integration of technology into products to improve the user experience).

Babeland: What other products have you designed?

John: We have worked on a lot of different projects in a number of different industries; some notable projects include a solar power monitoring system in Clean-tech/Green-tech, a developing world portable power system in accessible consumer electronics, and surgical tool prototyping in medical device design.

Babeland: Wow.  How does all that relate to sex toy design?  

John:
All of our design work is created with the user as the focus.  We’ve spent many hours observing what works and what doesn’t work in each of the industries we’ve played in, and we’ve created new and better experiences for the user.  A vibrator is a perfect fit for our skill set. We spend our time designing custom software, electronics, and actuators; we’ll write software to interact with sensors in a novel way, make a decision based on the sensor input, and actuate a mechanical system in response.  And we specialize in how to create new value to the user experience when completing projects/building prototypes/products.  This is what we’ve done in Ola.

Babeland: And who else has helped to develop this toy?

John: Our Secondary Group deals with aesthetics, design, brand, and creative support.  And since our development process is focused on user-centered design, our products are all tested by real users (straight, gay, single, in a relationship, married, married with children, etc.), and the design revised accordingly to fulfill their needs and wants.  And a female designer has designed the product form for a woman’s body, with direct feedback from female-bodied users.  We also asked and included women in the process, including brainstorms, interviews, testing, design, and branding.  Women have been involved in every aspect of our development process.

Babeland: How did your family and friends react when you decided to design a vibrator?

John: With support, and with plenty of curiosity!  I remember being apprehensive about bringing it up at dinner parties (the “how’s work going?” question), but once I did, it was all anyone wanted to talk about.  I’d say the thing that has surprised us most has been the number of woman who have openly offered to test our products (and asked for a free sample!).  It’s hard to argue with a product that promotes healthy, positive sexuality.  Pleasure is inherently positive, and what could be better than enhancing personal or shared intimacy?

Babeland:  We couldn’t agree more… and apparently, many customers agree. 

John:  The mainstream acceptance of pleasure products is definitely changing: just over the last year, I’ve seen the number of different products sold in my local Walgreens quadruple.  We’re definitely excited about being part of the cross-over into the mainstream market; we feel passionately that pleasure products should be available at any and all mainstream retail stores and chains.  Seeing Ola on store shelves will be a dream come true.

Babeland: Overall, what was the most fun part of designing a sex toy?

John: What’s not fun about sex?  The entire process has been a blast, especially seeing our vision come into being.  But the best part has been seeing people’s reaction when they pick up our finished product: eyes light up, and people say  “wow” or “no way” or “I want one!”

Babeland: Finally, if Ola had a theme song, what would it be?

John: Marvin Gaye, “Let’s Get It On.”  We even used this as an internal rally cry for Ola development – it’s a perfect fit.