Like Kickstarter — but for Porn

Sep 24, 2013 • Porn, porn, teh inetrwebz, web

the kickstarter for porn

Crowdfunding has become a popular way for creators to reach out to the community for financial assistance in making their ideas a reality. Sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo help make this happen by consolidating project information into a single page, which lists what rewards donors get for their money, and tracks the pledged amounts. Many people have taken to this method of raising capital, with fantastic results. These people, unfortunately, do not include the creators of adult content.

Kickstarter’s guidelines make it very clear that any “pornographic” project is not allowed on its platform — they feel so strongly about adult content that they lump it with hate speech and political mudslinging. Indiegogo, another very popular crowdfunding service, limits projects that offer, sell or distribute, “obscene or pornographic items, sexually oriented or explicit materials or services.” They lump those in with bullying and harassing items. Basically, if you had an adult-themed project, you’re out of luck.

And then came Offbeatr — a crowdfunding site billing itself as “the Kickstarter of porn.” Seeing the obvious need created by the mainstream crowdfunding sites’ refusal to assist adult content creators, Offbeatr CEO Ben Tai moved in to fill it a year ago. The company has since seen over 24 projects funded, with one exceeding its goal by 1937 percent. (Another exceeded its goal by 1042 percent. Another, 858 percent. There are currently five live projects and one of them has already exceeded its goal by 410 percent with over two weeks left on the clock! Clearly people are serious about putting their money down on the kind of porn they want to see.)

“What makes Offbeatr different is we are a crowdfunding site dedicated to adult creative projects,” the Offbeatr About page reads. “Through our experience with our adult marketplace we’ve learned content creators who connect directly with fans flourish. We want to bring these experiences to more people.”

Offbeatr might seem like the place to go for all things naughty, but they are not playing fast and loose. Their FAQ clearly states that not all adult content is permitted:

Specifically we DON’T allow projects, rewards, or products to display or mention the following topics:
Snuff/Scat/Elimination of Waste on another individual
Minor/Under Age
Drunk/Sleeping/Drugged/Hypnotized (it has to be consensual)
Copyright infringement

To launch a campaign on Offbeatr, one has to write up a project idea and submit it for screening to Offbeatr reviewers, who, unlike Kickstarter, are keen to make sure creators can make their project actually come to fruition. Once approved, a project goes up for voting among other Offbeatr members. There are currently 62 ideas up for voting on the site.

“We want project creators and their projects to be successful on Offbeatr,” says the site. “Sometimes you might think you have a great idea, but without getting feedback you don’t know for sure. By having a voting period we allow you not only to see how popular your project might be, but also let you collect feedback from the people who vote. When each person votes they can leave a comment which you can use to improve your project. At the end of the day if your project can’t collect enough votes (which are free to cast) it probably means your project won’t be able to successfully raise money.”

The number of votes required depend on the amount a project creator is looking to raise. To get the number, divide the dollar amount to be raised by 25. Why 25? “Based on our research $25 is the average amount contributed to a crowdfunded project by individuals,” says Offbeatr.

When ideas reach the required vote minimum, the creator can turn it into an official project. Offbeatr takes one last look and, once approved and the listing fee paid (see fee schedule), the project can go live for fundraising. This listing fee is returned if the project meets its goal (which can’t be less than USD$300 or more than $30,000). Like with other crowdfunding initiatives, project creators can offer rewards to donors (worth no less than $2 or more than $2,000). Donors are not charged their pledged amounts unless the project goal is reached.

Offbeatr takes 30 percent of the proceeds. That’s one hell of a lot more than other platforms — Kickstarter takes 5 percent of the funds, and even with the 3 to 5 percent Amazon grabs during processing, that’s still substantially less than what Offbeatr walks away with.

“Anything ‘adult’ is considered high risk by credit card companies and banks due to the higher incidences of fraud and chargebacks,” the site says in regard to their fees. “As a result, some companies don’t even bother processing payments for adult (like American Express or Paypal) and the companies who do charge higher rates to adult merchants than mainstream merchants. Typically this rate is at least two times more.”

This raises a question — if most merchants won’t touch adult content, how does Offbeatr process the sums? They funnel the money into their own account and make a direct deposit into that of the content creator. That’s a lot of trust, not to mention information — especially given that Offbeatr also needs to collect a copy of a photo ID (to verify that project creators are over 18), as well as an address, phone number and tax information (to comply with anti-money laundering regulations). Offbeatr assures users that they store all this information securely, but do not offer further details about this security in their Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section. If the site is going to gain any mainstream traction, that is going to be something they’re going to want to take closer look at — and become a lot more transparent about.

Header image features campaign for Trials in Tainted Space, via Offbeatr.