Fun Factory USA: Mass Appeal

It’s always been the American dream to have something that is all your own, that you created from nothing and turned into something really successful.

It’s similar to the dream many foreign creators of pleasure products have. They dream of bridging the gap between European or Asian countries and the Americas, and having as many people as possible enjoy their products.

That’s how it was for Fun Factory GmbH, headquartered in Bremen, Germany, since 1996. It wasn’t long before the dream of coming to America became a reality.

“We knew there was a market for our products here and it was the right timing since the adult industry and especially female customers were ready for a more non-pornographic and non-offensive look, as well as a more mainstream look of toys,” said Rudy Kottbauer, chief marketing officer of Fun Factory USA, located in Burbank, Calif., the importer and main distributor of high-quality vibrators and other intimate personal products made in Germany. “Also, because of the time lag and the distance, it was important to have a location here in the States. A lot of work needed to be done in terms of branding and product awareness for Fun Factory, which could not have been done in the same way with an independent distributor.”

Kottbauer and Christian Trinker, CEO of Fun Factory USA, were tapped to head the new venture. In true American dream fashion, they started small, initially working out of a house in Pasadena, Calif., and using a 1992 Jeep Cherokee for deliveries.

“The owner of Fun Factory in Germany was looking for the right fit of people who would be able to build a subsidiary in the U.S. and the other Americas [from Canada to Argentina],” Kottbauer told AVN. “Since Chris and I already had employment experience in the U.S.A. [working for a delivery company called Pink Dot], and since we are Austrian [and] also understood how to do business in Europe, we seemed to be a good fit for the company. Also, prior to Fun Factory, Chris had already worked in the industry for Topco Sales.”

Another point in the duo’s favor was the fact they had already lived in the greater Los Angeles area and were familiar with the city and the role of the adult industry here.

Once the people were in place, it was simply a matter of getting out the word about Fun Factory’s product range. The company prides itself on creating toys for adults that feature softer looks and flowing, unique designs. It’s the designs and quality that have helped Fun Factory make an impact not only among fans and customers, but critics as well.

“In 2003 and 2004, and even the following years, no toy looked liked ours in terms of colors and look,” Kottbauer said. “I remember that I heard people saying that we will be never able to sell such ‘funny’ looking vibrators, but little did they know. And look around: Everybody wants to look like our vibrators now. Copycats are everywhere, but we take it as a compliment.”

In terms of quality, Kottbauer noted, Fun Factory was one of the first companies to use 100 percent medical-grade silicone, a trend that many companies caught on to in the succeeding years.

And design organizations have for some time lauded the form and function of Fun Factory toys.

The DeLight vibrator won the reddot design award in 2008—the first erotic toy ever to gain such an honor—and also was nominated by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology for the Design Prize 2009. The iF product design award marked the fourth commendation the DeLight received for design.

More recently, the international jury for the iF product design awards 2010 awarded three Fun Factory products the internationally renowned prize for design. The vibrators DeLight and BiMiNi FLASH, as well as the vaginal balls SMARTBALLS Teneo duo, stood out in the category “Leisure/Lifestyle” with their expressive forms.

But sitting back and drinking in the accolades is not what the heads of Fun Factory have in mind. Rather, they intend to keep pushing forward.

“Innovations, innovations, and again innovations, such as our new generation of rechargeable Click ’n’ Charge vibrators,” Kottbauer said, referring to three new vibes that were launched at the Adult Entertainment Expo in January. The environmentally friendly vibes are powered by a magnetic universal recharging plug instead of disposable batteries. “That is the only way to keep a leading role in the industry.”

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This article originally ran in the May 2010 issue of AVN.