Cindy Gallop is the founder of MakeLoveNotPorn, the world’s first and only user-generated, human-curated social sex video-sharing platform. Through this venture, she aims to normalize sex and promote positive sexual values.
This episode is a masterclass on Sex-tech. View the world through the revolutionary gaze of a brilliant, very courageous woman who is destabilizing the male-dominated social order affecting businesses and societies at large. Listen on!
04:08 – What is Make Love Not Porn?
17:18 – Reinventing advertising
19:35 – Strategies for entering new markets
41:46 – Promoting sex education via novel products
Read the complete text version of the episode:-
[00:01:38] Cindy Gallop: So I’m Cindy Gallop. I’m the founder and CEO of Make Love Not Porn. I’m half English, half Chinese. I was born in the UK but when I was six my parents moved to Brunei in Borneo. And so I grew up in Brunei. Grew up traveling all around Asia, went back to the UK for school and university, worked in the UK for a number of years, spent a couple of years in Singapore helping to start up and run BBH Asia Pacific from ’96 to ’98. And, the reason I’m here in New York is because I moved here, gosh, 25 years ago now this year to start up the American office of BBH, which began as me in a room with a phone, starting an advertising agency in the world’s toughest advertising marketplace, Madison Avenue.
So that was a lively ride. But it all went pretty well. And, I left the corporate world in 2005 to work for myself. Something I, strongly recommend everybody ultimately do, working for yourself is the only way to be. And these days, in addition to my own business, I support myself as a consultant and a public speaker. I speak at conferences all around the world, including India, where I was very happy to be speaking just a couple months ago. And I also consult with businesses all around the world as well.
[00:02:53] Vani: Fabulous, Cindy. In fact I first saw you at the Times Fest, in Delhi, but that was pre-Covid. And you tell me you were here just a couple of months ago as well?
[00:03:03] Cindy Gallop: Oh yeah. Basically I came for, the Observer Research Foundations, tech conference that they hold every year which in fact had been remote for the last couple of years. And then and then they decided to actually do it in person just this past 2022. And so that was really, really amazing. C-Y-F-Y the Cyfy conference. Yeah. In Delhi, yeah.
[00:03:26] Vani: Okay. Fantastic. Wow, Tell us, you were doing so fabulously well, you have, you had such a glorious career in advertising. Like you said, you came here all by yourself. You started advertising in the toughest market possible, and you did it for how long? For how long were you at BBH Cindy?
[00:03:42] Cindy Gallop: For 16 years. But obviously I’ve worked in a number of agencies in London before that. And I still do work in the advertising industry. So in total, my background is 38 years working in brand building, marketing, and advertising.
[00:03:56] Vani: Wow, wow. So after that, you started a venture like Make Love Not Porn. How did you even come upon the idea and what made you so passionate about it, and what made you believe that you’d succeed?
[00:04:08] Cindy Gallop: So Make Love Not Porn was a complete and total accident. And by the way, every, everything in my life in Korea has always happened by accident. I have never consciously, intentionally planned anything. So, how Make Love Not Porn came about was, I date younger men. And, for the benefit of our audience, I should just explain that I am somebody who has never, ever wanted to be married. I have never wanted children. Very glad that I always knew that, as opposed to finding out the hard way by having them. I adore being single. I am not a relationship person. I cannot wait to die alone. And I date younger men casually and recreationally for sex. And I am deliberately very public about all of that because we don’t have enough role models in our society for women and for men by the way.
[00:04:56] Vani: Mm-hmm.
[00:04:57] Cindy Gallop: That demonstrate you can live your life very differently to the way that you are expected to and still be amazingly happy. And I’m one of the happiest people I know. There I was and this would be now 15, 16 years ago, dating younger men and it was through dating younger men that I encountered an issue that would never have crossed my mind if I had not encountered it so very intimately and personally, I realized that I was experiencing what happens when two things converge and I stress the dual convergence because most people think it’s only one thing.
I realized I was experiencing what happens when today’s total freedom of access to hardcore porn online meets our society’s equally total reluctance to talk openly and honestly about sex. It’s when those two factors converge, that porn becomes sex education by default, in not a good way. So, I found myself encountering a number of sexual behavioral memes in bed.
I went, whoa. I know where that behavior’s coming from. I thought, gosh, if I’m experiencing this, other people must be as well. I didn’t know that Vani because 15, 60 years ago, nobody was talking about this. Nobody was writing about it. This was me in isolation as a naturally action-oriented person going: “I’m gonna do something about this.”
14 years ago purely as a little side venture, I put up on No Money, a tiny clunky website at MakeLoveNotPorn.com. That in its original iteration was just a copy. The construct was porn world versus real world. Here’s what happens in the porn world. Here’s what really happens in the real world. I had the opportunity to launch Make Love Not Porn at the TED Conference in 2009.
I became the only Ted speaker to say the words “cum on my face” on the Ted stage, six times in succession. The talk went viral as a result, and it drove this extraordinary global response to my tiny website that I have never anticipated. Thousands of people wrote to me from every single country in the world, including India and everybody, you know, young and old, male and female, straight and gay, pouring their hearts out, telling me things that they’d never told anybody before about their sex lives, their porn watching habits.
And I realized I’d uncovered a huge global social issue. And so, that was when I decided to turn, Make Love Not Porn into a business designed to do good and make money simultaneously. And so, I turned to Make Love Not Porn into what we are today, which is, the world’s first and only, user generated, 100% human curated, social sex video sharing platform.
We are what Facebook would be if it allowed you to socially, sexually, self-express, which it clearly doesn’t. Hmm. The way to think about us is, if porn is the Hollywood blockbuster movie, make Love Not Porn is the badly needed documentary. We are a unique window onto the funny, messy, loving, wonderful, comical, awkward ways we all have sex in the real world. We are socializing and normalizing sex in the real world. Bringing it out into the sunlight to promote consent, communication, good sexual values and good sexual behavior. We are literally sex education through real world demonstration. And I decided to make Make love not porn very importantly around a couple of things.
I decide make d d decided Make love not porn to be the safest place on the internet. And that’s because I design it through the female lens around what everybody else should have, but nobody else did, human curation. There is no self-publishing of anything on Make Love Not Porn. Our curators watch every single video submitted from beginning to end before we approve or reject or we publish it.
We review every member profile post, and by the way, on Make Love Not Porn, your profile post text, photos, administration illustration. They can be a safe work not safe work as you like, but we review them, we approve or reject, we publish, we review every single comment on every single video before we approve or reject and publish it.
We can vouch for every piece of content on our platform in a way that nobody else on the internet can, which is why we are the safest space on the internet.
[00:09:22] Vani: Right.
[00:09:22] Cindy Gallop: And I also designed make Love Not Porn, around a revenue sharing business model designed to democratize access to income. So, I foresaw the Creator Economy 13 years ago. Our members pay to subscribe, rent and stream social sex videos. Half that income goes to our contributors, whom we call our Make Love Not Porn stars. And, as a unique venture, Vani, we have a unique capability. We have the power to change people’s sexual attitudes and behavior for the better, in a way that nothing else can.
And ultimately, our mission is to end rape culture globally, and we help end rape culture by doing something very simple that nevertheless nobody else anywhere else is doing. We end rape culture by showing you how wonderful, great, consensual, communicative sex is in the real world. Our social sex videos role model good sexual values and good sexual behavior.
And, here’s the important part, we make all of that aspirational, versus what you see in porn and popular culture. And by the way, Vani, all of my 37 years of work in brand building, marketing, advertising, have fed into Make Love Not Porn. Because, one thing that I’ve been exhorting our industry to do for decades, literally is to reinvent aspirational culture. And I am reinventing aspirational culture around sex. And so, we call what we’re doing at Make Love Not Porn, the social sex revolution. The revolution part is not the sex, it’s the fact that finally we’re making it social.
[00:10:56] Vani: Lovely. absolute gold and it’s absolute, it’s honey to the ears, because nobody speaks about sex like this. I can’t imagine what you are doing. And the one big question I have in my mind, Cindy, is that when one thinks of porn, it’s highly, it’s directed. It’s actually, it’s like another movie, right? It’s, perfectly scripted, it’s directed, it’s very deliberate it’s not real. Given that your venture is a hundred percent user generated, as you say, human curated, but it’s all user generated videos. All of these people who are putting up videos on MLNP tell me a little about the user psyche,
[00:11:35] Cindy Gallop: yeah, sure. That’s a great question, Vani, because Make Love Not Porn is my second startup, my first startup was called If We Ran The World, and, basically I had to back burner If We Ran The World when Make Love Not Porn blew up because even I, superhuman as I am, cannot run two startups simultaneously.
But, I designed Make Love Not Porn around the business model, If We Ran The World was meant to inculcate and If We Ran The World again came out of my 37 years working in marketing brand building, advertising, because one of the things that I, again, have exhorted our industry to do for decades is to redesign the business model. And you know I say that because I observe too many people thinking either this is the industry business model. This is the only way we’ve ever made money, it’s the only way we ever will make money. Or, they think there are a set number of business models out there and we need to pick one of those. And, what I always explain is neither is true.
Your business model can be whatever you want it to be. And, a really good starting point to design your own business model is to very simply ask yourself the question, how would I like to make money? Because, the safe bet you’d like to make it not the way you’re currently making it. So I live my own philosophies.
So, I designed my own business model, which I believe is the business model of the future, which is shared values plus shared action equals shared profit, financial profit, and social profit. And what I mean by that is,
[00:13:04] Vani: wow
[00:13:05] Cindy Gallop: when brands and businesses come together with their audiences, and by audiences I mean consumers, employees, analysts, any group of stakeholders, when you come together, on the basis of values that you all share, which by the way is the most important requirement for good relationship in life as much as business.
You will never truly bond with someone who don’t share the same values. So when brands come together with the audiences around shared values, and when you are then all enabled to collectively and collaboratively co-act on those values to walk the talk together, you can then make things happen in the real world that will benefit consumers, benefit society and benefit the brand in its business.
If We Ran The World was co-action software designed to help businesses integrate this business model. And by the way, very flatteringly, we were 12 months old in beta when Harvard Business School reached out and said, this model is so innovative, we want to teach you and write you up a as a case study.
And so, If We Ran The World exists as a Harvard Business School case study and business students write to me all around the world about it. And one day, by the way, I hope to be able to reactivate it because it’s more relevant now than ever before, but having to back burner it, to build Make Love Not Porn, I designed Make love Not Porn, around that business model, shared values plus shared action equals shared profit, financial profit, and social profit. And so, you are absolutely right Vani, because, I have built an amazing community around shared sexual values. And even I, who, who, did this intentionally, am blown away at how strong that community is because of that.
And um, and, and for the benefit of our audience, I want to explain what I mean by sexual values. So I designed to Make Love Not Porn around all my own beliefs and philosophies. One of which is , as I’ve indicated; I believe that everything in life and business starts with you and your values. So, I regularly ask people this question, what are your sexual values?
And, nobody can ever answer me because we are not taught to think like that. Our parents bring us up to have good manners, a work ethic, a sense of responsibility, accountability. Nobody ever brings us up to behave well in bed, but they should because in bed values like empathy, sensitivity, generosity, kindness, honesty, trust, respect are as important as those values are in every other area of our lives, where we’re actively taught to exercise them. And so, you are quite right, Vani, our amazing members and our Make Love Not Porn stars have been drawn to our community because we all share the same desire to see more open, healthy attitudes and dialogue around sex. And so our contributors, they’re absolutely making money. I want to make, make a lot of money, but they’re doing this first and foremost because, they believe in our mission and they want to help. The one thing that I didn’t realize when I embarked on this venture was that I, my tiny team, would fight an enormous battle every single day to build Make Love Not Porn.
And that is because, every piece of business infrastructure, any other tech startup gets to take for granted. We can’t, the small print always says ‘no adult content’. And, this is all pervasive across every single air of the business in a way that people outside the sphere don’t realize. Historically, I couldn’t get funded, I couldn’t get banked, it took me four years to find one bank here in America that would allow me to open a business bank account for Make Love Not Porn. My, my biggest day-to-day operational challenge is payments. PayPal won’t work with adult content. Stripe can’t, mainstream credit card processes won’t, I have to work with adult friendly payment processors who, because anybody adult has nowhere else to go, charge extortionate rates. I pay out 12% of my revenue every month in payment processing fees, when the mainstream rate is 3% or less. That’s a big business growth inhibitor. It’s not just that, every tech service I need to use, hosting, encoding, encrypting, the terms of service always say ‘no adult content’.
I have to go to people at top of the company, explain what I’m doing, beg to be allowed to use their service, sometimes they let me, some of them, they don’t. Very labor intensive process. Never get to work with best in class of anything. And, one of the most frustrating obstructions given my background is Make Love Not Porn is banned from advertising and promoting ourselves on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Google Ads, and, it’s not just us, Vani, this is a gendered bias. Any female lens sexual health and wellness venture can’t advertise either; menstruation ventures, menopause ventures, fertility ventures. In the meantime, male sexual health and wellness; not a problem. Erectile dysfunction solutions; advertising everywhere. And I say that to contextualize the fact that, we have not grown the way that I would like us to because of these business inhibiting factors.
And it’s very frustrating because, at the same time our, our growth has had to be entirely organic. And, there are two very interesting things that have driven that growth: media coverage and And they’re interesting because, so every day all around the world, people search for Make Love Not Porn without knowing that we exist.
And what I mean by that is, the top organic search terms that drive traffic to us are make love, not porn, real sex not porn, video Sexo Na Porno, make love not porn, where they don’t know there’s a company actually called that. One young man told me that he found us when he Googled porn that is not porn.
[00:18:49] Vani: Wow.
[00:18:49] Cindy Gallop: He was so fed up with everything out there, wanted something different, had no idea what to search for. And when you Google porn that is not porn, you find Make Love Not Porn. So that gives you some idea of how much people are actively looking for what we are. The documentary to Porn’s movie. And then the other interesting factor is, so our organic growth has been driven by media coverage. The one benefit of being a controversial venture, is that we get ongoing media coverage all around the world without doing any PR or outreach, just as well, can’t afford to. And, the interesting thing is whenever we are written about in any country in the world, that country, no matter how tiny, instantly rockets to be number two in traffic after the US. And, if it’s a large country, it overtakes the US, the US is normally our biggest market because we have most familiarity here.
For example, a few years ago, somebody wrote about us in Serbia, which is tiny. Woosh, number two in traffic, okay? That summer we were covered in Switzerland, also minuscule. Woosh, number two in traffic. Couple of years ago, someone wrote about us in one of South Korea’s biggest newspapers. I woke up to South Korea’s, our number one source of traffic, accounting for 56% of all of it.
But infuriatingly, Vani, because we’ve struggled to raise funding. And by the way, this is why I’m, I’m working to raise a serious round of funding. Now now we operate only in English and South Korea is one of those markets where not that many people understand, read, or write English. So we couldn’t capitalize on all of that traffic.
But that tells you how much the world wants what we do. So, there is an interesting fact for you as well. So in the past, at regular intervals our number one source of traffic has been India. When someone has written about us. And what is really interesting, Vani, is that this has been the case for many years now.
India is consistently the sixth highest source of traffic to Make Love Not Porn. We do nothing in India, you know, we don’t have the resources, we don’t advertise, we don’t promote. And, young people from India write to us all the time and beg us to launch a localized version of Make Love Not Porn.
And partly what’s helped that is, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve actually spoken a lot in India. You know, People have brought me in as you know, to give talks. Often I’ve done press interviews around that. And so that’s helped spread awareness of Make Love Not Porn in India, when I talk about that equally, India obviously a country where a lot of people speak English, and so being an English language only site is, is not a barrier.
And so I have been looking for years, for on the ground investors and partners to launch Make Love Not Porn, India. And, I have a very specific plan for that. And by the way, Vani, you know I’ve, I’ve talked about this in India in the past. What I love is that, we are what the Kama Sutra was all about.
I get as frustrated as I’m sure Indians do, when people think the Kama Sutra was a book of sex positions. It wasn’t. It was a manual for good sexual values and good sexual behavior as part of living a fully rounded and, good life. And so, all we are doing is we are bringing Kama Sutra’s values to life, literally, within Make Love Not Porn.
And I have an approach I have a strategy for markets like India and China is another one where people write and ask us to launch a local version. Because obviously, these are markets where there are a lot of societal restrictions around anything to do with sex.
And my strategy would absolutely not be to like launch in India to important foundation stones. The first is that and again, this is part of my philosophy, I believe that change happens from the bottom-up, not the top-down. And so, what I would want to do if I’m able to raise the funding to launch Make Love Not Porn, India, is to take a grassroots approach.
Because, millennials and Gen Z love us. You can imagine, this is a generation that have grown up with porn. They need us, they know they need us. And the plan would be to seed Make Love Not Porn at a grassroots level, tap into the network effect. I want to, the way I put it is I want to rise without trace.
By the time people are more publicly aware of us, we are doing so much good within Indian society that we can’t be argued with. And the, and then the second very important part of my strategy of Make Love Not Porn, India, is, I want to raise funding to hire an on the ground team in India who would work with me to re-design and re-package and represent Make Love Not Porn, India, as a totally homegrown venture.
Make Love Not Porn, India will be Indian. It will absolutely, take account of the cultural context and cultural sensitivities and it will feel like a completely homegrown venture. I think that’s incredibly important. And the good news is when I had the idea for MakeLoveNotPorn.tv after the extraordinary response of my TED Talk, I pitched it to investors for two years.
From 2009 to 2011, because that is how long it took me to find one angel investor who got it and who put up $500,000 in seed funding to enable me to build a platform and hire a small team. And that investor’s been amazing, supportive ever since. In total he’s put just over 3 million dollars into Make Love Not Porn.
So, I’ve kept Make Love Not Porn operational for the past 10 years on just 3 million dollars of funding. That’s an extraordinary achievement. And so, I am now, as I said, setting out to raise a round of serious funding and setting out to raise 20 million dollars. And, I’ll come on to what I’m raising that for. But, here’s what’s really encouraging today, Vani because. I’ve spent the past 13 years parallel pathing two things, working to build, make love not porn, and working to change the cultural and business context around it. Because, when you have a truly world-changing startup, you have to change the world to fit it, not the other way around. And finally, 13 years later, all of that work is paying off.
I’ve taken make love not porn to unheard of levels of social and business acceptance. And so the time is right now to find the investors who get it. But I have to adopt a very particular funding strategy. And, I talk about this because this strategy could also be very usefully adopted by other people who, who need to find a particular audience.
So I know that my investors are out there. There are a ton of them and there are a ton of them in every country in the world. I know that in India, there are a ton of investors who would totally get this. Here’s my challenge. They are impossible to find by the usual means because they all have one thing in common. Your willingness to fund make love not porn is entirely a function of your personal sexual journey. It is a function of your personal lens on sex and sexuality that’s been shaped by your own experience. And, I have no way to research and target for that, not just because, sex is the one area where you cannot tell from the outside what anybody thinks on the inside.
[00:25:39] Vani: Yeah.
[00:25:40] Cindy Gallop: The people who look like they would totally get it, don’t. The people who look like complete prudes, do. And so, my strategy deliberately has been. , I put Make Love Not Porn out there all the time. Across all my social channels. I do every media interview I’m invited to. I go on every podcast, because, I have to make synaptic connections happen, that will attract those investors to me.
Now, this is admittedly a long, slow, painful, and highly inefficient process, but the good news is every so often it works. And, the even better news is that in the past year, it’s been working more and more. So I have to tell you, Vani, I’m frankly gobsmacked at how effective LinkedIn is at bringing me incoming investor interest.
Literally, in investors are reaching out outta the blue on LinkedIn saying, I see you are raising funding, tell me more, I’m intrigued, I’d love to talk. And in fact I will tell you actually that, just a couple of months ago, towards the end of last year, an investor reached out on LinkedIn who is in fact Indian.
He’s based in Dubai. He he’s, he’s not a resident Indian at the moment, but he reached out to me and he said, I’m really interested in your fundraising. I’m gonna be in New York next week can we get a coffee? And I went, absolutely. What I loved was, he taught me through his background and to, which is a very impressive finance background.
And he said to me, I’ve reached the point in my life, I no longer want it just to be about making money. I want to have social impact. And he said, what you are doing can have the biggest impact of all. And so he’s interested in funding us. And in fact I talked to him about my plans to make Make Love Not Porn, India.
And he said to me, have you budgeted what that would cost? And I said well, I haven’t put that together yet. He said, could you, because I’m interested and I think I have some friends in India who will be, and so, actually when you, when you put what you’re doing out there you draw your people to you, The people who get it will want to talk about, whatever it is you’re doing. And that’s a really useful strategy for anybody who wants to find their tribe.
[00:27:35] Vani: Amazing, Cindy. Amazing. So, what you are saying, given the nature of your business so big problem with sex is nobody wants to talk about it because it just feels like, oh, how can you talk about this?
Especially in India, it’s it might be less so in the western part of the world, but we, like you said, our parents groom us to do everything else you study well, you be a good child you have good manners and all that. You don’t talk about sex even after you get married. You don’t talk about sex even with your own partner in most cases.
In, in 90% of, even India, sex with your own partner is also a big, oh, how do I talk about this? How can I discuss this? And,
[00:28:16] Cindy Gallop: yep. Absolutely. Yep.
[00:28:18] Vani: In your case you talked about, you know, shared sexual values. You’ve earned a lot of your media. It’s all been a function of you putting yourself out there. It just so happens that you have this really what should I say? A very magnetic, a very out there personality. Not everybody might be able to have that, and I think MLNP is very lucky, to have you, in a sense, because that’s how you are getting as much attention. But, talk to me a little about what you said, that I wanted, I want change from bottom up and not top down.
I want to seed MLNP in the grassroots, because this might be relevant, actually, to a number of other ventures. A lot of times when you believe in something very passionately, but you are unable to attract funding for it it’s not always, you are not always able to get trials or awareness because, hey, I’m telling you, and I’m putting the big bucks in advertising.
You’ve been in advertising for the longest time and now you are in a, in a place where you can’t, unfortunately, advertise. What does one do? What does one do as a founder to be able to create change, bottom up.
[00:29:26] Cindy Gallop: that, that’s a great question, Vani, I’m glad you asked that because, what you do is you build solutions to your own problems.
As I mentioned, I’m currently working on raising a round of 20 million dollars, and I’m raising that to do four things. The first thing is to scale the core business. Makelovenotporn.tv because I’ve never had the funds to be able to have my own CTO, my own in in-house development team.
So much of my vision is still not built. There are so many features that will turbocharge paid user growth. So that’s object number one. But the other three things I want to do are precisely because of the challenges I face. I want to build three product extensions of Make Love Not Porn.
which solve my problems while at the same time giving people the information and the education they need. And I’ll talk you through each of those because the last slide I think you’ll find especially interesting. So the first product extension is in a way not at all surprising because parents and teachers began writing to me from day one of Make Love Not Porn and the first product extension I’ve talked about for years because I’ve been trying to get it funded for years and I haven’t.
But now I think I finally can, I want to build the 0 to 18 version of Make Love Not Porn.
[00:30:36] Vani: Nice. I was gonna talk about that. Yes, Lovely.
[00:30:39] Cindy Gallop: So, MakeLoveNotPorn.academy. I bought the URL many years ago. If you go there, you’ll see a very old holding page. And MakeLoveNotPorn.academy will be what I characterize as the Khan Academy of Sex Education.
Because, Khan Academy tutors on every other topic under the sun, except this one. Educational technology, EdTech, exploding as a category, not in this area. So, I want to build, MakeLoveNotPorn.Academy on the same principles as MakeLoveNotPorn,tv, user generated, crowdsourced, curated revenue share, because I’m not about reinventing the wheel, Vani the academy will be an aggregation play. This is going to be the go-to hub for the world’s sex education content. There’s a very specific Indian application this I’ll come on to. So, the way it works is, when I’ve got the funding for this, we build the platform for the academy. And by the way, it’s a very efficient build. It’s just repurposing our existing content, publishing human curation infrastructure. And, we then invite sex educators all around the world to share with us their own content. Coursework, materials, videos, books, comic strips, whatever it may be. We will curate, because we only ever published what is Make Love Not Porn endorsed.
So again, human curation lies at heart of everything we do, and we will then publish this content, segmented by age appropriateness. So, if you are a parent freaking out going, “oh my God, my six-year-old just asked about this, what do I say?” here’s where you would go for entirely age appropriate tools and content to be able to have that conversation with a six year old.
Of course if, if you’re a teacher of the class of 14 year olds, here are your age appropriate teaching materials, if you are an adult: access all areas, because adults, as you say, are desperate for all of this. And the important thing about this, Vani, is for this reason, the academy will be where children, young people can access sex education without parental, teacher gatekeeping.
And here’s a story as to why that’s important. So, I have a friend who’s a mother, and as you have to do these days, she monitors her kid’s browsing history. And, this happened a few years ago. Her son was eight years old and she saw, to her consternation, that on the family computer, he had Googled ‘sex for children’.
So, she freaked out, obviously, you know, did the right thing. She stayed calm, she sat him down. She went, “darling, know, I noticed that you did this, talk me through why.” and Vani, this anecdote is adorable and horrifying in equal measure because, her son wanted to learn about sex. He was eight years old. He’s a child. He knew he was a child. He wanted to learn about sex, in a child appropriate way. And, so he googled sex for children. You can imagine the kind of thing that came back. He was utterly traumatized. the academy will be where an eight year old boy can go, enter his age, and we will only serve him entirely age appropriate sex education.
Now a lot of this, a lot of this will be free to access, as in that example, but we’ll also charge to download, subscribe, bulk, buy. If you’re a school, there are different revenue stream, different use cases, and by the way, we’re talking a huge revenue generator. And, we will then split the income 50-50 with its creators, the educators, in the same way that we do with our Make Love Not Porn stars.
Because, right now, Vani, nobody goes into sex education to make money. I have friends of brilliant sex educators. They face all the same barriers I do. Their content gets blocked on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, they can’t make a living doing this. They’ve had to take other jobs to survive. I want to change that because that’s enormously valuable work and to mention the India applicability that I referenced earlier. So, I have a network of brilliant sex educator friends all around the world, and I can’t wait to build the academy to showcase their work and help them sell it. One of those friends is in India and you may know of her parameter Vora, who is a filmmaker by background, and she started the wonderful company Agents of Ishq. Are you aware of this?
[00:34:32] Vani: Yeah.
[00:34:33] Cindy Gallop: So Agents of Ishq, which is the Hindi term for love and desire. So what they do is they produce, culturally sensitive appropriate sex education for India. And it’s genius. They make these fantastic videos, which spoof Bollywood musical numbers to, you know, communicate messages about consent.
And so every time they produce a new video, I share the shit out of it, all over my social channels. But I said to Paro, sometime back, I said, why do your videos only get 30,000 views on YouTube? And she said, because I cannot release them and run them in India as broadly as I want. And so, I am dying to build the academy to make amazing sex education like that available.
Because, imagine the applicability, Vani, not just people in India, but for the Indian diaspora worldwide, to actually have sex education for your community, by your community. Yeah. And. . that’s the point of, building this, as I say, the go-to repository for the world’s sex education content.
And, what the academy will also do is a couple of very important things. The first is that it will give, Make Love Not Porn, social legitimacy when we have an education extension. But at the same time, it’ll be a fantastic recruitment engine because we will send all the adults to Make Love Not Porn.
And obviously, when you are 18, you can graduate to sex education for real world demonstration. But the other reason I want to build this, Vani, is, as I said earlier, in building solutions to my own problems, I’m out to prove concept. And, what I mean by that is people have said to me again, for years, Cindy, you know, you should go into.
schools I can’t go into schools because, as you will know, you know anything sex-wise on the curriculum, it’s just, it’s a nightmare battle and doesn’t happen. When I can build and launch the academy, people will be able to see in one place for the first time all of the world’s brilliant sex education content that would enable you to pick and choose.
culturally sensitive sex education for whoever you are, wherever you come from, and when you can finally see it all laid out, you see how one of it is, how it’s not threatening, it’s not corrupting. You can pick and choose what is most helpful, and that will then break down barriers against sex education around the world.
So, that’s product extension number one. The second one of the three, is a messaging app, and the reason it’s a messaging app is because, apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp refuse to admit that their exponential growth, huge rounds of funding, gigantic IPOs have been driven by one thing and one thing only; Sexting.
[00:37:11] Vani: Really, even WhatsApp?
[00:37:13] Cindy Gallop: Oh yes. Yep. They will not talk about this in interviews. They evade any questions about sexting, here’s the problem. When ‘A’ refuse to admit that sexting is a perfectly normal universal human activity, B, refuse to admit that a shit ton of it goes on in your app, you then do not proactively design for it.
You don’t design for privacy, security, confidentiality, and consent. And, that is why we have a global revenge porn problem, everywhere. And again, I’ve had this in the pipeline for years. I’ve talked about it publicly. I want to build specifically designed for sexting Make Love Not Porn, safe sexting app.
It’s called Cosentral, and it does two things. A, it uses state-of-the-art technology to enable you to sext completely safely, and securely. But secondly, because again, everything we do has this skill in mind, it is designed to improve your communication around sex, to improve your sexual relationship. So for example, we will have our own version of Snapchat’s, filters and overlays, and we’ll have some ready generated.
You can also create your own, and you can overlay these on your sexy photos and videos. But what our filters do is when you overlay them, they say things like, I really love it when you do that. Actually, I’m not so keen due to that, I would really rather you did not do that. In other words, Vani, to make it easy to communicate what people find impossible to say to each other, face to face in bed.
Then, you’ll be able to communicate using the, again, specifically designed for real world sexting, Make Love Not Porn emoji keyboard. Because, right now we have to default to the OG , you know, the taco, the Peach. And several years ago, a Brazilian agency, Mesa Akadera, they designed for us a wonderful real world sexting keyboard.
It’s enormous fun. My favorite is the emoji for anal, chocolate covered donut. And so, you’d be able to sex back and forth. You’ll be able to livestream sexy calls through consensual. You can record them, but only if both parties agree. If one party wants to record the call, the other one doesn’t, you can’t. And the moment either party wants everything gone and by the way, everything you sex to each other lives within the app.
Nothing goes to other person’s phone. You know the moment either party wants everything gone, you can delete it all off the app. The other party has no say in it.
[00:39:27] Vani: Hmm. Nice.
[00:39:28] Cindy Gallop: So, I want to make that available, free for download in the app store worldwide. But obviously again, that is a fantastic recruitment tool for the core business because when you’re sharing sexy videos, it’s just one step to go, let’s watch some other people on Make Love Not Porn and maybe even share out.
And then, here’s the third and final product extension. So this is actually designed to kill two birds with one stone because for years, Vani, I’ve been exhorting the women of our industry to start Ad Tech Ventures, And that’s because as we all know, the enormous irony of our industry is, that women are the primary target for all advertising.
Because, we are the primary purchasers of everything and the primary influence of the purchase. Yet our industry, ludicrously is male dominated. And so, we are targeted and sold to all the time through the male lens. And Ad tech is as bro dominated as advertising Ad tech. And so, for years I’ve said to women, start a female lens Ad tech venture.
And I was so frustrated with our Ballard advertising that I, I saw an opportunity to do this myself. And so the third Make Love Not Porn product extension, is I want to build our own Ad tech. And, I want to build our Ad tech, Vani, through the female lens on a completely different model to the one that is currently out there for Ad tech, which is, eyeballs reach.
And therefore, by the way, click bait and huge amounts of fraud. I want to build ad tech, which reflects my love of our industry and my love of advertising because our ad tech will serve ads that people will actively want to watch. So much so, that it will be destination viewing in its own right. And so I’m calling it here for the ads.
And there are three reasons why people are going to want to watch the ads that we serve them. And by the way, in the first instance, this ad table will operate across our own properties. Makelovenotporn.tv, Academy, GoCentral. But again, I’m out to prove concept and to then be able to turn into Ad tech that plugs in everywhere else.
So the first reason people will want to watch the ads we serve is because we are gonna open up our ad tech to everybody like us who is currently banned from advertising. Which is, as I said, not just sex tech ventures like mine, but menstruation, menopause, fertility. And it’s not just small businesses, Vani, it’s the big boys.
Procter & Gamble, Unilever, S&T record cannot advertise sanitary protection, condoms, lube, the way they want to. So we’re talking, by the way, huge revenue generation. But the fir, the first reason people will want to watch these ads is because, these are all ads for products and services that help us in these most intimate areas of lives where we are desperate for help.
And secondly, they’ll want to watch these ads because they can’t see them anywhere else, cause they’re banned everywhere else. So this is the only place you find the information, education for these fronts and services that you want. But the second reason people will want to watch these ads is because, on our ad tech, you can advertise any bloody way you like.
No censorship, no holes barred. And I use the word bloody advisory value because this is where samra ads, forget the blue ink on the pad. Bring on the blood. Have fun with it. This is every advertising agency and brand’s dream creative brief, be funny, engaging, entertaining, all of these areas, without any censorship.
And that is why our Ad tech has a share button, because people are gonna want to forward these ads to everyone they know. And so, this is adtech where going viral is a feature, not a happenstance. And then the third reason people wanna watch these ads is because, as I said earlier, at the heart of everything we do lies human curation.
This is Ad tech you apply to place your ads on. Our curators will decide A, whether we endorse your brand, product or service, you’ve gotta be legitimate. And secondly, whether your advertising is of sufficiently higher standard of entertainment engagement to be served on a channel that is about ads that people actively want to watch.
And as I said earlier, the aim here is to prove concept. Because the people currently banning us all from advertising on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, et cetera, they don’t know what it’d be like if they allowed us to advertise. They’re just know it would be really bad, in their heads that they have this abstract concept. sodom and gamora will ensue, when you can show people a live ad channel of ads for all of these products and services where the sky does not fall. Products are terrific, the ads are wonderful, and we’re making a shit ton of revenue. That is when not only can I, turn this into ad tech, take that, as I said, plugs into every other platform, but it’ll help the barriers for appetizing for us across the home of the internet.
[00:44:03] Vani: And you the beauty of this is that ad makers, ad creators will line up to create ads to all to make films, and many of them will raise their hands even to make films free of cost. How many of us, how many in the ad community are happy to work on Durex and on various other sexual products, free of cost only because it’s fun to do it. It’s you can express in a way that you haven’t been allowed to express before.
[00:44:29] Cindy Gallop: Hello, Canne Lions. Hello, Awards .
[00:44:32] Vani: Exactly. And you know what? On the other side, people like us will be actually happy to pay to view this advertising, this advertising you can actually charge to view this advertising. That would be a revolutionary business model to say, you’re not gonna pay to avoid advertising. You’re gonna pay to watch this advertising .
[00:44:53] Cindy Gallop: Do you know back in the day at BBH we had a culture of creative excellence, one of the criteria we used to evaluate the ads that we created was, is this ad so good that people would pay money to watch it?
And, while we never actually did that, you, our, our Levi’s campaigns, I mean, people would’ve paid money to watch those ads. You’re absolutely right. Yeah.
[00:45:12] Vani: So, that would be fantastic. So tell me, Cindy, what if there were founders who weren’t as out there as you are, who weren’t as happy to express because exactly this subject. I’ve worked with a company called Freedom from PCOS. So, PCOS, PCOD, erectile dysfunction, sexual wellness I’ve spoken to so many founders in this field.
It’s such a huge problem. But the problem is exactly this, that it is not adequately spoken about. adequately, there isn’t adequate content, there isn’t any good content. You don’t know where to access it. One problem is this bit for children, which is a huge issue.
And my son goes to a very good school, but I know that there isn’t enough education. I have been buying books from Amazon, US and even as a parent, even us, us parents, we are struggling with content. But on the other side, even for adults, for very legitimate problems, which are medical issues related to sexual wellness, even for that, there isn’t enough content.
Leave aside the fact that sexual education will actually help, bring the rape culture significantly significantly down. We have a huge problem over there. The kind of horror stories that we read in the papers every day is disgusting. My question to you is, if one weren’t a Cindy, if one weren’t a Cindy, but one did have a venture of some kind in sexual wellness, then what does one do? In the sense because you have a personality. You’re very articulate, you’re very passionate. You can speak in a way that’s very captivating and enticing. You’re not scared to be out there. Of course, if a founder had some sort of a business in this field, then one, one, one, can’t not be passionate about it. But what if one weren’t able to create as much content? So actually, what is your content strategy apart from if, if one were to take the Cindy out of the MLNP then what would your content strategy on this be, given there are as many restrictions with your venture.
[00:47:10] Cindy Gallop: Sure. To be frank you can’t take me out of Make Love Not Porn, because Make Love Not Porn, it is me. And you’re absolutely right, Vani, Make Love Not Porn is where it is today because I’m a one-woman marketing machine. And I am the unique competitive advantage that Make Love Not Porn has. But that being said, a couple of pieces of advice for anybody else working in this area. First of all for 13 years I’ve had no problem talking about make love not porn anywhere and everywhere, I work it into the, my corporate speaking engagement, cause I use it as a business case study. And as I said, I designed so many of my own business philosophies into it. And the reason for that is because I know perfectly well that no matter how corporate, the environment that I’m speaking in, everybody in the audience knows exactly what I’m talking about. And so, I would say to any founder in this area, absolutely have the confidence of knowing that when you talk, everybody knows exactly what you’re talking about.
And I can also tell you from 13 years of working at Make Love Not Porn, everybody is dying to talk about sex, they absolutely are. So have the confidence in knowing that. And then secondly, what is great is that over the years I’m an OG in this area, but over the years we’ve built up an amazing community.
And more and more founders are starting sex tech ventures, sexual wellness ventures, every day. So if you’re a female founder, join us at thewomenofsextech.com. I’m a founder member. We are actually overhauling the website at the moment. We have a Facebook page, but we have a wonderfully collaborative community because we all face the same challenges.
And so we all help each other. And, I, I must also recommend a dear friend of mine in this space, Briny Cole, she runs a wonderful course called Sex Tech School. And so, I recommend go to sextechschool.com. And she runs these courses year round. I think they’re about six weeks.
I’ve lectured a couple of them and, that is a fantastic resource for anybody who wants to know how to build and grow eventually in this area.
[00:49:10] Vani: Fantastic. Fantastic. In the VC world, we talk about what is the moat for your business? How does your business build defensibility? And for your venture, what you’re saying, and it’s very reasonable to argue Cindy is the motive.
Cindy is the reason why this is not going to be copyable. I mean, What you’re essentially building is this massive aggregate aggregator platform of sex videos, which are very real in concept one could copy it. Because there is nothing stopping anyone else from copying it, but one can’t be you. And to be able to do this in this very, very challenging, restrictive environment would require someone like you to be able to do everything that you are doing. I can so imagine. Fantastic.
[00:49:53] Cindy Gallop: I would welcome other people copying what I do, but actually I can tell you very confidently nobody will. And that is because, of how I designed Make Love Not Porn to operate. And I would like to just put that in the context of the tech landscape as a whole.
The young white male founders of the giant tech platforms that dominated our lives today, they are not the primary targets, online or offline of harassment, abuse, racism, sexual assault, violence, rape, revenge porn. Therefore, they did not, and they do not proactively design for the prevention of any of those things on their platforms.
And we see the results around us every single day. Those of us who are most at risk every single day, women, people of color, LGBTQ, the disabled, we design safe spaces and safe experiences. So I designed Make Love Not Porn through the female lens, as I said, around what everyone else should have, no one else did, human curation, but importantly, that’s because I designed Make Love Not Porn around respect for our community and for those white bro founders community is not respect. Community is dollar signs. Community is data. Community is statistics. And so, we bring to human curation a care and concern that goes far beyond the way anybody else operates on the internet, not just in the adult sphere, anywhere. For example, we build a personal relationship with every single Make Love Not Porn star.
From the moment you submit your first video, we know exactly who you are. We have a personal relationship with our contributors, then we take I talked about our approach to human curation, we do things like, so when we curate comments on videos, when we onboard a make Love not Porn star, we ask them what language they do and don’t want to see in the comments on the videos because our feedback is nothing but respectful and grateful.
But in enthusiasm, they may use words that a Make Love Not Porn star would rather not see. And you can tell us if there’s anything you, you don’t want. We will not publish comments featuring those words. And by the way, it can be whatever you like. One Make Love Not Porn star said, I don’t wanna see any comments on my feet.
We were fine. So if anybody says they’re about your feet, we’re not publishing that comment then also, we are fully diverse and inclusive. We have, our Make Love Not Porn stars are male, female, trans, non-binary. And, our trans non-binary Make Love Not Porn stars may present as a different gender and we have pronouns obviously on, on profiles, people can self-identify. Again, enthusiasm, a member commenting may misgender somebody and that can be very triggering. And so, we won’t publish comments like that. Nobody takes human curation to 100th of the lengths that we go to. And then also, very importantly, Vani, this again, is something nobody else does.
Our commitment to our Make Love Not Porn stars, is the moment anything changes, your relationship, your life, your circumstances, even just your mind. You tell us, we take your videos down immediately. They’re gone forever. And by that I mean we have no process. There is no application for you. You just email, WhatsApp us you know you can choose your communication methods with our creation team.
You just tell us, one, Make Love Not Porn star emailed the other day and within 15 minutes the videos are gone. Nobody else does that.
[00:53:02] Vani: Wow, that’s fantastic, Cindy. That’s amazing. But this bit, like you said, nobody else can take human curation to 100th to what we do, isn’t this very demanding on resources, on time, even on the human mind because I don’t know how large is your human curation team, but to be, and I don’t know what kind of traffic that you get, I can imagine that there must be a dilution of traffic as people get to know more about you.
But how does one do this? How, A, how do you put the team together? How large is your team and how demanding is it?
[00:53:34] Cindy Gallop: Sure. So first of all, Vani bear in mind, we’re tiny, we’re bootstrapping, we have no money, and we’ve been human curating everything for 10 years. And by the way, imagine what Facebook and Instagram could do with their billions if they chose to, okay? Secondly our curation model is eminently scalable. It’s built into our business plan. And the way to think about it is, a good analogy is, our human curation workforce is simply our equivalent of an enterprise software’s sales team. Because enterprise software unicorns hire thousands and thousands of salespeople, okay?
Same deal. It’s eminently scalable. Thirdly our team is tiny, so I have four employees. We have I have a fantastic head of sales, Abigail, and then we have three curators, Ariel, who’s the head of curation, Samaya and Angie, who are our curators. And they have this down to an art. Obviously I’m raising funding so that we can scale, because we want to attract more videos, be able to hire more people to curate. but they’re able to publish, you know, an astonishing number of videos, per day. And, I designed it so it works and it’s scalable. And this is basically what you can do when you decide you want to do this. then the final point, Vanny, which I always find very funny, is when people go, oh my God, so what mental health resources do you provide for your curators? Cause here’s another thing about curation for us curation starts way further back than on our actual platform. And what I mean by that is, when you make it crystal clear what you stand for, what your values are, what you’re all about, you make it crystal clear what kind of content this platform is for.
Lo and behold, that is the only kind of content you get. And so, our curators watch love all day, every day. They are watching wonderful love. I mean, Mental health resources, forget it. There’s nothing but in any way would occasion any impact in the mental health. We’re just watching lovable, wonderful, comical, funny, fabulous, adorable real-world sex. And that point’s important, Vani, because as a saying goes, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. None of those white bro founded platforms went, here are our values, here’s what we stand for, and this is there for the kind of content we want because, I ha I had this conversation last year with an interviewer who was asking similar questions, and I said, the enormous irony is that if Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, et al., did what we do, they would make so much more money. And the reason for that is, first of all, the moment you announce that you are going to human curate, okay, you you instantly shut off the fire hose, okay? You instantly shut off the fire hose of fascists and Nazis and racists and child abusers because they know their content won’t get through anymore, So there’s no point in even submitting it. So you instantly, make your life a whole lot easier, and then when you human curate and you publish content that is in line with your values, Oh my God, you make so much more money than you do currently because two critical words, brand safety. Brands will flock to advertise when you guarantee through human curation, they will only ever be advertising in completely safe contextual environments.
[00:56:51] Vani: Absolutely. This is such a huge issue for us at Pepsi. And tell me in this environment of human curation Cindy, how do you go through, because again, given the nature of your business how is your team categorized content in terms of how viewable is this? It may be right, it may be checking off all the boxes, but it may not be doing magic.
[00:57:14] Cindy Gallop: We do not in any way at all take any view on that. All we are curating for is to make sure it’s real and it’s consensual. That’s it by the way, we exist to celebrate the full, glorious spectrum of human sexuality in all its forms. And by the way, I have to tell you that, I’ve been saying for years that, real world sex. Is more innovative, more surprising, more creative, more hot and arousing than porn will ever be. I’d have to tell you that to this day, our curation team will get a video, they go, wow, we didn’t know that was a thing. Okay, whoa! There’s nothing as, as we say in the UK, there’s not so queer as folk. There’s nothing as as strange as people. But the thing is, the fascination is with Make Love Not Porn is you are getting a privileged glimpse into somebody else’s real life. I remember years ago we first launched, a woman wrote to us soon afterwards went, oh my God, I love this platform. I love the videos. Then she said, this is probably gonna sound really weird, but one of the things I love about videos is, I love seeing the insides of other people’s houses. And I went, it’s not weird at all I, I love that too, because, this is what, this is real world sex. Our Make Love Not Porn stars are having sex, on the kitchen floor, in the shower, on the beach, on vacation. One couple, the husband built a shed in the garden, and when he finished a celebrate, they had sex on the roof of the shed. And it’s so this is voyeuristic in the holistic sense of the term. That what you are seeing is real. There’s a fascination. And no we make no judgment at all about the quality or the viewability. We are just holding up a mirror to the world as it really is.
[00:58:47] Vani: And I wish this were more freely available. Imagine is what does one do about that? You know, unfortunately porn has spawned the way it has because that’s freely available. so I wish how, what does one do about that?
[00:59:01] Cindy Gallop: So a couple of things, Vani, I mean, first of all, the good news is I’m also working to raise serious funding because you’d be amazed how quickly our advertising barriers fall when we write a big enough check. So built into my business plan is millions to spend on advertising because when I have that kind of money, I can advertise, and I know that because we work here in New York with, there’s a wonderful woman called Amy Denison who has an agency called Finolution, which she started to enable brands to advertise that can’t. And she began with brands in the cannabis industry because they have a lot of the same problems we do, and then expanded into sex tech. And so I said to her, Amy, if I gave you a million dollar budget, where could I advertise? And you’d be amazed where I can advertise when I have that kind of money, we are pre-approved for a billboard in Times Square. Amy found us a great location. She found an independent media owner with a billboard in Times Square that we can put Make Love Not Porn on. it’s just, I need $90,000 to do that, which I don’t have. So again, that’s why I’m raising funding. So first of all, the good news is we can advertise much more. And then secondly, with funding we can also look at, different business models and different opportunities. So for example one of our members said to us, can you build something where, we can actually pay for a young person to be able to watch your videos? can we donate subscriptions to people who really need them? Which I thought was a wonderful idea. we’d love to build that. Then we students write to us all the time. They say, we need you on campus. And so, one student wrote to us a young man and said, I think every university should provide students with free Make Love Not Porn subscriptions in the same way they provide students with free Microsoft Office subscriptions. And we thought that was a great idea. So we are, trying to find the enlightened universe that gets it, that will do something like that.
[01:00:54] Vani: Yeah. It’s desperately required. I mean, we would put an end to the rape culture if age-appropriate sex education were available. It’s absolutely true. Exactly like that 8-year-old boy. We have this problem, the world over, and the problem is that.
[01:01:08] Cindy Gallop: Yep, yep. Oh no, it’s global. It’s global. Yeah.
[01:01:10] Vani: It’s absolutely global. And exposure to sex is now with the internet, is beginning at a very young age. And children being, children are curious and they wanna learn. And in all of their innocence, they’re looking for stuff because they simply wanna learn. And unfortunately, there is only garbage out there.
[01:01:27] Cindy Gallop: Yeah, exactly.
[01:01:29] Vani: Fabulous. Lovely, Cindy, it’s been fabulous talking to you.
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