How I Did It

Too Sexy? 'No VC Wanted to Touch Me With a Barge Pole'

Cindy Gallop, founder of MakeLoveNotPorn, explains how every obstacle she encounters only proves why she must launch her "real-world" sex sites.

Video Transcript

00:07 Cindy Gallop: I had not anticipated, to be frank, that the shutters would come down quite so quickly the moment the word sex was mentioned.

In early 2009, Cindy Gallop founded, a website that compares porn to "real-world" sex.

But later that year, when she tried to raise financing for MakeLoveNotPorn.TV and its videos of regular people having sex, she ran into obstacles.

00:37 Gallop: I..., should be every VCs wet dream, literally. I have an idea enabled by technology designed to disrupt a sector worth billions of dollars, in a way that is both socially beneficial, and potentially very lucrative. But what I actually found, was that because that sector is poor, and because the social benefit is to sexuality, no VC wanted to touch me with a barge goal.

In 2011, after two years of looking for financing, Cindy Gallop raised $500,000 from an undisclosed angel investor.

But then, not a single bank would allow her to deposit the money.

01:21 Gallop: A whole range of banks turned us down, including the startup banks, Silicon Valley Bank, Square 1 Bank. We finally got a banking account at CHASE, and we were extremely relieved, thrilled to get a check book that said Make Love Not Porn on it. And so, when... I began encountering enormous problems putting a payments infrastructure into place, because we are what the world deems adult content, we couldn't work with PayPal, couldn't work with Amazon, couldn't work with Google Checkout, couldn't work with any of the main merchant partner gateways. So, we thought, let's go back to CHASE, we have a business banking account there, let's apply for a commercial account. Unfortunately, that application surfaced the nature of our business within higher levels at CHASE. And it resulted in a meeting with a more senior guy, who essentially said to us, not only can we not give you a commercial account, but you now need to close your business bank account and take your business away, because we can't handle it.

02:19 Gallop: And, ironically he said, "I believe in what you're doing, but our Compliance Department won't." The cumulative impact of every possible obstacle that society can throw at us, to prevent us doing something that has enormous social benefit, that is designed to help everybody, it all just suddenly got too much. And then, to my own utter astonishment, I just sat down and I burst into tears.

Cindy considered giving up.

But she decided not to.

02:58 Gallop: There have been many moments like that, where I have seriously thought, "I can't go on. I can't do this. This is just too difficult." And then, what happens is that, I get another one of those emails that I get every single day from people to my Make Love Not Porn inbox, where they pour their hearts out to me about how thankful they are for what I'm doing with Make Love Not Porn. And also fortunately, for me, I am one of those people where every obstacle I encounter demonstrates why I have to do this. And every obstacle I encounter, every barrier... I'm absolutely determine that if that's what the world thinks, I can't do and they won't let me do it, I'm gonna fucking well do it.

The video site MakeLoveNotPorn.TV is in private beta.

36,000 people have already signed up for the waiting list.

Last updated: Sep 13, 2012