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Crowdsourced funds lend a helping hand to adult entertainment
SHWETA SHARMA  16th Sep 2012

Illustration: Anish Dasgupta | Dev Kabir Malik Design

rowd-funding is a burgeoning trend across the world resulting in many indie projects seeing the light of day. And now, introducing this concept to the world of erotica is Offbeatr, a site that enables people to raise money for adult creative projects. Founded by entrepreneurs Ben Tao, Eric Lai and Barry C, the platform enables people to raise money for their projects in exchange for unique rewards and digital products for money.

"Back in April 2011 we launched ExtraLunchMoney.com, which is a marketplace for adult content that connects independent models with interested buyers. This was our first website in the adult area and since we had zero experience, it was difficult to get sellers to use the site. So to get started, we created an adult industry show called ELM Avenue where we interviewed live webcam models, adult actresses, and adult studio heads to learn about their work and the industry," says Tao.

He points out that after learning about the effects of piracy firsthand — how actresses were working less and studios were making fewer movies, they thought of Offbeatr. "We thought if we could offer an alternative way to fund content creator's projects before they got made, they could continue to work and try new things," he says in an email interview.

Launched on 9 August, the site features projects like adult movies, video clips, photos, art, books, comics, games, software, toys and even events. All project creators initially need to submit a project idea (pitch). Once the pitch is approved by Offbeatr, project creators can develop their project idea and submit it for another review. Once approved, this project idea can collect votes. This phase is used to evaluate how well received this potential project will be. If the project gets enough votes, it becomes 'official' allowing the funding to flood in.

"We've had over 100 ideas pitched. Currently we have five projects that have passed through the idea phase and are actively collecting funds. Our main idea is to give adult content and product creators a way to fund their projects from the public. Since websites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo don't allow adult-type projects, we wanted to offer a similar platform for these project creators," says Lai.

He further adds that the foremost thing that the Offbeatr team looks for in a project is the background of the project creator. "We look for creators who have experience, passion, and the ability to follow through once their project is successful. The second thing we look for is the idea itself—if it follows our content guidelines."

But why exclusively adult projects? "Adult content is prohibited from most (if not all) crowd funding websites. This means people who have creative ideas in the adult space don't have a way to raise money for their project directly from the public. For us it's about giving equal access to funding options for people serious about their projects," says Tao.

With websites like Amazon and PayPal not accepting any transactions related to adult content, Offbeatr has secured its own methods of payment. Through this initiative, the team hopes to change the industry by giving it and the people involved a new way to accomplish their projects.

 
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