Creative Commons license icon

Furry porn sweeps Offbeatr; their CEO, project leads explain

Your rating: None Average: 4 (7 votes)

Some say there's no money in porn. But furry porn? That's a different story.

Crowdfunding has proven very popular, funding projects from digital aardvarks, roleplaying rats and space-abducted foxes, to fluffy ears, Furcadia's 'Second Dreaming' and seemingly every other work by M.C.A. Hogarth. Twokinds raised enough to buy a good-sized house.

Furotica is largely a no-go for industry leaders Kickstarter and Indiegogo. But it's become a lifeline for Ben Tao, Eric Lai, and Barry C, whose adult crowdfunding site Offbeatr (covered in August) lists five successful projects to date — all furry. [tip: Ripner Cabbit/EarthFurst]

So how can you raise $4000 (or $40,000) for your dream project? We asked those who've done it, while taking a closer look at this new funding platform and talking to its CEO.

Offbeatr: Crowdfunding for adults

Offbeatr is relatively simple on the user side, at least for those familiar with Kickstarter. The site is an unashamed clone, right down to its project tips, sourced largely from A Kickstarter's Guide to Kickstarter. You can even embed pledge boxes in the same way (though not on Fur Affinity).

One differentiating requirement is that project creators demonstrate interest before taking pledges, to the tune of one registered voter per $25, plus ten more. This drastically cuts down on the number of projects accepting funds. While Offbeatr has attracted a variety of pet projects, as highlighted in a recent press release, few have met this high barrier. In fact, the first two projects to take payments were furry as well.

Those passing the voting stage have to put up a deposit, and hope they raise the cash. It's not enough just to draw comics; in this case, those 170 voters didn't translate into backers. (Offbeatr blanks out failed projects, but they'd only raised 10% of their $4000 target with 14 days left.) Successful projects get 75% of the pledged amount; or 80% if it's over $10,000. Payments are processed via credit/debit cards (no AmEx, PayPal or AlertPay). Funding used to be paid out through Dwolla, but is now sent via bank transfer at no extra charge.

The only project now in pledge mode seeks $2000 to create an erotic alleyway mural. However, its creators are offering just $1780 in rewards. This underscores one important point: unless you plan to rely on charity, you need to offer more in rewards than your goal. Of course, supporters sometimes do pledge more than necessary; so far, this accounts for $225 of their $905 total. (Project rep: "Although some donors have already pledged less or more than the reward levels, we will likely add one or two more pledge rewards for donors coming soon.")

Many furry projects have open-ended digital options for those who fail to grab the most lucrative, limited options, or who find them unappealing. Creators can also sell digital downloads through Offbeatr, even if they don't make a pledge goal. However, there's one catch: a 30% fee.

Interview with Ben Tao

Offbeatr's CEO Ben Tao also runs a market for custom adult videos and photossimilar to fiverr, albeit far less safe for work. The former Yellowpages.com product manager was rejected several times by Y Combinator and other startup incubators before joining the L.A. Startup Club.

Ben acquired experience in the adult world through a series of interviews, aimed at both learning from industry players and educating others.

The problem as we've learned from our foray into the adult industry is that there is very little access or ways to raise money for anything adult. Traditionally movie studios were the ones funding all the shoots, but as the internet grew up fast (ie BitTorrent & tube sites) the business models didn't [...] The business model has stagnated and as for real innovation, we haven't seen much...

So we figured if we can put the future of the adult industry in the public's hands and of those who are passionate about the movies, books, or art combined they can try new things that otherwise your traditional studios / publishers would never attempt. Of course this is no different than what kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms do for their users, but adult as of yet has no such platform.

Offbeatr's launch garnered much press coverage, including articles in Forbes, CNBC, Gizmodo, TechCrunch, Gigaom and the Huffington Post. (Alas, kitten huffing would probably be forbidden by their terms of service.) But we wanted to learn more, so we asked him a few questions:

Why do furry projects do so well on Offbeatr, compared to others? (Better community? Established names? Fewer products available?)

I think it's a combination of factors. After launching Offbeatr and seeing the success of the furry projects I can say that the furry community is not only very passionate about the projects, but also larger than I had imagined. I also think having well-respected project creators who also had followings of their own help out tremendously. And then, finally, the project creators knew their audience and the type of products that their audience wanted. It didn't seem like they were guessing what people wanted. They knew exactly what their fans wanted and they delivered.
Ben Tao of Offbeatr
Did Offbeatr see this coming, or was it a surprise? (You don't seem to have a "furry" section . . .)

It definitely was a surprise. To be honest I didn't even know there was a furry community. But after looking at the projects that were run on the site and the number of votes projects got it's clear that it's a decent sized community.

Does Offbeatr see [the success of furry projects] as a good thing, or a potential problem?

We think its great. When we launched Offbeatr we weren't going to just limit ourselves to traditional "porn". Our goal was to build a platform that allowed creative people to explore sexuality and in our minds the furry projects do exactly that. As for us the enjoyment comes out from helping out where prior to us launching there were no legitimate or easy ways to raise funding for adult projects.

What do you intend to do in response, if anything?

Nothing. We hope the community keeps coming back. So far our experience with project creators and supporters from the community has been great.

Has Offbeatr done anything to attract furries? Do you plan to?

To be honest we didn't do anything or even know that Offbeatr would be interesting to the community. We were fortunate in the beginning to get some press which got the eyes of some of early project creators and I think after other people in the community saw what we had built decided to give us a shot as well. From there it kind of grew on its own.

Will Offbeatr continue to limit drawings of fictional characters? (e.g. rape, minors, snuff, incest . . . all are depicted in furry art; Softpaw Magazine was crowdfunded)

The area of acceptable content and unacceptable is a little grey for us. This is mainly because of the rules that are handed down to us by our payment processor which in turn are handed rules by Visa, Mastercard, and other credit card companies. Basically they give us rules like no rape or forced sex, bestiality, snuff, etc... We understand the reasoning as no one would want some to get actually raped and have it filmed. But in the case where everything is drawn (like in furry art) what's bestiality and what's rape in something that technically isn't real?

Most of the time the payment companies err on the side of caution since credit card companies will fine companies up to $25K per violation. It's insane but a lot of this stems from the fact that the United States government has never clearly decided what constitutes obscenity. And since it's a crime to share or create "obscene" content payment companies and companies in general will always be wary.

This is just a long winded way of me saying that philosophically we are fine with certain kinds of content, but because of external forces we can't allow it.

Do you have/foresee issues with payment processing? Various services have declined to process payments for furry erotica.

It's always a potential issue, but it's not just limited to the furry community. It's a problem and issue that affects all things in adult. We recently wrote a piece on the Extra Lunch Money blog which discussed the list of "bad words" that we were given and couldn't have on our website. As I mentioned above the problem goes beyond the payment processors and stems from US laws.

Have any furry projects been declined by Offbeatr, and [if so] why?

Ripner Cabbit wants to start a murrsuit porno companyNone to my knowledge. As long as it's within our content guidelines, the project creator is serious and has the ability to complete the project then we allow them to create their project.

Is Offbeatr funding projects that would otherwise not be made, or easing funding for projects that would likely happen anyway?

Yes and no. I think we make it easier for good projects that probably would have gotten done at some point to get done faster. These are people who care so much that they'll find a way. And then there are other projects I think where people kind of thought about doing but thought might have to be too much of an initial investment to pursue so they decided not to do them. But then after they discovered Offbeatr they decided to give it a shot since we offered a low risk solution.

Meet the Offbeatrs

Of course, Flayrah wanted to get both sides of the story, so we asked creators of furry projects for their perspectives.

Offbeatr FuroticonSeppel Creations - Furoticon Online (multiplayer online card game w/ animated characters; $39,841)

Furoticon might not strike you as the first choice for an online game, but the game's creators hoped to leverage its existing fan base — and succeeded in attracting almost 2/3 of Offbeatr's pledges to date.

Furoticon has a huge following, with regular games at conventions, so it wasn't a surprise when the project hit 50% of its initial goal three days in, ending at $40,666 with 300 backers before payment failures caused this to fall. The project was also featured on the Offbeatr blog, boosting its audience.

Callista, Furoticon's head of PR, was kind enough to respond to our questions:

The staff at Offbeatr was very friendly, and went to great lengths to have short turnaround times on communication and problem-solving. We could always count on them to take care of every issue, whether big or small.

[Their service was] absolutely useful! While there are several different crowdfunding sites, people still expect a certain amount of consistency. If we had tried to pull off a similar crowdfunding campaign through our own website, the amount of trouble we would have to go through to make it accessible to the normal consumer would be huge. Being able to work through a separate company made things so much easier.

As a new company offering a complicated service, it made sense that there were glitches that both we and our customers encountered. What made those problems bearable was, as stated, the Offbeatr staff's desire to fix things as quickly as they could.

While we have no plans to do another crowdfunding campaign again, theoretically, we would have had more communication with our fans about when our campaign was actually starting, so that more of them could have been poised to get the reward they wanted.

I definitely recommend Offbeatr to those people interested in crowdfunding an adult project. Just remember, of course, that though furries on Offbeatr have had a certain measure of success so far, that doesn't mean that it's for just any type of project. Kickstarter and the other crowdfunding sites are still perfect for G-rated work.

And, advice for people who want to start a campaign:

  • Don't expect the project campaign to run by itself. Make consistent updates, provide lots of information so that your supporters know that they're supporting the right person! If you lose interest in your project, so will your supporters.
  • Respond to your supporters in a timely fashion! Make sure you answer their questions, especially during the voting phase. Word of mouth is a powerful advertising tool, and if you're interacting with your supporters, they'll pass that information on to the rest of the community!

Project owner Seppel also contributed a few words to Offbeatr's recent press release:

One of the main things that sold us on Offbeatr was that they would handle all of the financial and organizational aspects of fundraising. Having the tools (organized pledging, updates, digital products, surveys post-campaign) made this an exciting and dynamic experience for our customers, and would have been much harder to do with our own resources.
[...]
We work hard to bring a quality product to our customers, and that’s made more difficult by printing companies who refuse to print adult material. Our campaign centered around bringing our card game to an online format for a reason — online, people will be able to play with friends around the world! Sex is a part of most adults’ lives, and the celebration of sex through images is just as natural as that through text — but 50 Shades of Grey is in your local library; Furoticon will be difficult to get into your local gaming store.

Finally, Offbeatr CEO Ben Tao had a little to say about Furoticon Online, and the importance of passion in pledging:

What’s been amazing is seeing how passionate people are about supporting projects they care about even if they happen to be adult. Supporters care just as much about bringing Furoticon online as the people who wait hours in line to get an iPhone 5.

Offbeatr UniganOnta - Unigan Caravan Print Drive (gay adult collaborative comic book; $8,157)

Onta had been sitting on a collection of art for some time, frustrated by high minimums for quality printing. Offbeatr represented a chance to make his dream project a reality . . . and to recoup sunk costs.

The book had been done for about a year and some months ago. The first setback I had was paying around 5k for the content. [...] It's amazing how costs pile up when you're trying to make sure everyone is compensated for their time. [...] I didn't know if I could pull in the sales to even warrant the cost of printing at the quality I wanted. [...] I had seen [adult] books printed in Japan and Europe with just amazing fidelity to the original artwork and I wanted that same quality for my book.
[...]
Before Offbeatr this book had a very real possibility of not happening. [...] Most well known services do not support adult content, you have to spend a lot of time talking to people\ researching and etc... to find something half decent. [...] Thankfully being able to have most of the print costs handled upfront made it a reality.

Still, the platform alone was not enough; Onta also had to leverage his fan base:

My project was successful because I tapped into community\social elements. I help keep people who are interested in what I do and kept them in the know. Additionally, offering multiple support levels to chose from really help find a perfect spot for most people where they could be part of the project at a level they felt comfortable with.

Onta highlighted a "rather interesting and very helpful" Gamasutra survey which identified preferred reward types, how users heard about projects, and the factors most likely to put them off pledging.

He also provided a post-mortem of the site in which he praised the approval mechanism, and the diligence of the site's technical staff. However, he was critical of the tools offered for updating, surveying, contacting and tracking numerous customers, plus issues such as folding reward lists. [Flayrah checked Offbeatr's response by reporting a site performance issue during the creation of this article, which was fixed within a few days.]

Offbeatr Jurassic BeautiesFossil - Cherri DVD+ portfolio (digital pin-ups, wallpapers, interactive animation, dress-up doll; $6,491)

Fossil was enthusiastic about Offbeatr, while highlighting the importance of multiple rewards out of the gate, warning of potential delays, and the need to account for the site's cut:

My experience with OffBeatr crowdfunding my project was positive! It's of course a newer site, so it's still working out some kinks (ah-hah) and there was an unexpected wait for the funding to go through, but I think with proper notifications, future OffBeatr users will have a better estimate of the month-or-so they might have to wait. I spent the time just working on my project anyway, so the wait wasn't unbearable; it just threw off my timeframe a bit.

If I were to use OffBeatr again for any future projects, I think I'd plan a lot more incentives as rewards for different level pledges at the start, rather than adding more as updates as time went on.

I'd recommend taking into consideration the fact that OffBeatr will take out 25% of whatever you make, so plan cautiously and set your goal accordingly.

Offbeatr 52 Pick UpZambuka - 52 Pick Up (gay erotica, delivered weekly; $4,055)

Zambuka also gave a positive spin to the site's features, and shed light on advantages that non-furry project creators might lack:

I've found working with Offbeatr to be a very pleasant experience. The staff are prompt and helpful with any queries or problems I had, and problems on the site in general. Setting up and using their project tools are fairly intuitive [...]

Assuming everything keeps going smoothly, I'd definitely like to use Offbeatr for future projects, and have a few ideas in the works. I'll definitely be offering some $10 incentives or something around that range, rather than having to get people to jump right to $25 to get something out of it.

[...] my theory about all the successful furry projects is that we're a fairly small fandom, so it's very easy to let people know about it. I know all I have to do is pay a little and I can get an advert on Fur Affinity. Also in my instance I have a fairly large watcher base, so it's easy for me to post up a submission or journal and I can be fairly sure that a decent number of people will see it.

Offbeatr Inside the Candy BoxSkidd - Inside the Candy Box (straight comic book; $2,390)

Skidd was pleased to find that Offbeatr was willing to lower a goal to allow a "close" project to succeed, at least in their early stages. But he was less pleased a week later when problems arose with card processing, affecting many pledging users.

I have a problem...for some reason Offbeatr tells me my Credit Card Payment was declined...

I have the same problem as the other people here. Tried both of my cards, one was declined, despite having way, way more than enough funds on it. The other went through, but offbeatr apparently charged me for $0 instead of what I pledged...

Offbeatr seriously has big Problems...not only did I receive another E-Mail with a broken Link to re-enter payment Information but now they want me to travel back in time to do it, too!

"If you do not enter a new payment source by 12/31/1969, you will be removed as a supporter for this project and will not receive your reward."

Excuse me while I call up Doc Brown so I can travel to 10 years before I was born...

Also, the Project is now both Successful (green banner) AND Unsuccessful (red Cross-Notice). Obviously because of the bug that prevents quite a few of us to fulfill our pledges.

I just got the email and was a bit concerned also. i though I confirmed with my bank so there shouldn't be any issues at least on my end. what about the 4 people who have donated so far? they didn't have any problems?

Skidd himself grew frustrated as his project seemed to be a victim of live beta-testing:

It shouldn't even be just 4 supporters.. it should be 40 something.. the site has messed up on my project.. and I'm hoping that it's either fixed... or I get compensated somehow for all the trouble. They've been nice so far to me.. and I know there will be issues with a new site... but I can't help but feel like MY project was a test subject for all the other projects on the site...

One problem became clearer in November:

One of the issues that some pledgers have is the fact that our payment processor is in the UK. Because of that their own credit company (if they are based in the US) will block the transaction since it looks "suspicious" since it is international. In those cases they need to contact the bank and let them know to approve international charges (or clear it if they have already pledged). Unfortunately, this is something out of our control and something the banks have instituted for fraud protection.

Offbeatr tEnDenciesEn Den - tEnDencies (mixed erotic digital compilation; $2000)

En Den's Offbeatr campaign was not successful, but he seemed upbeat nevertheless:

I would run it again if I knew it would have a high chance of success. I did it the first time out of curiosity over this new crowdfunding platform for adult projects. I am glad that we furries have the successful projects there - my fanbase was at least enough to get tEnDencies one of the first projects 'voted' up.

I am currently only able to work on commissions - though if I have time I might release at least a compilation [...] at full 'working' resolution - that is, higher than what I can post on FA. I would also love to again include some of the art and fiction of AnthroPawlogy: Storm Harbor. I would still want to run it on Offbeatr because I can at least guarantee that the project will be worth my while.

En Den is still considering Offbeatr for Sharin Kov: Radiant, which he's working on with Chemical Dragon.

Crowdfunding: a new tool, not a magic money-making machine

Most Offbeatr projects seem destined to fail at the voting stage. Again, to proceed to funding you need ten votes, plus one per $25 sought — the minimum is $300, so a project must have at least 22 backers. Raising $10,000 requires 410 votes. Combine this with the 2%+ listing fee (enough to discourage those limping to the finish line), and you cut out projects with little hope of success. As Onta explains:

I feel my project did well because I reached out on multiple platforms. Platforms I had built an audience and fan base on. Twitter, mailing lists, hardblush.com, community sites, Tumblr and etc. [...] Throwing the project on Offbeatr and letting it sit there isn't going to get the results you want.

Offer a varied range of donor rewards. [...] Fans want physical goods; digital dominates when it comes to distribution, but people are starting to miss owning a physical copy of something they cherish. Print is dying, but Offbeatr and Kickstarter allow fans the opportunity kick in a few dollars on something they can hold. People want books the same way they want figurines and toys, I believe.

Keeping people in the loop and getting people to peek at the project over and over helps build momentum and gets people excited.

So who succeeds? Those who can gather an audience, who know what they want, and who can get them to pay — just like everywhere else. Salesmanship matters, but it's no use without a great product, a track record, and dedicated fans. Not there yet? Stick with commissions.

As for Offbeatr, furry success stories go some way to offsetting what's otherwise a less-than-stellar launch, but are unlikely to satisfy staff. Still, their closest competition hasn't taken off, either, so they should have time to tweak their model for a wider audience . . . if one exists.

Comments

Your rating: None Average: 3 (6 votes)

Does Offbeatr see [the success of furry projects] as a good thing, or a potential problem?

We think its great. When we launched Offbeatr we weren't going to just limit ourselves to traditional "porn". Our goal was to build a platform that allowed creative people to explore sexuality and in our minds the furry projects do exactly that.

High fives for entrepeneurial vision beyond just for profits (or at least, PR skill to present it that way :)

The whole story carries several thoughtful messages: it illustrates the value of furry fandom's creator-driven, creator-centered nature (even the porn part of it) - and it shows how the best business plans have flexibility to reach destinations that were never imagined when they started. Crowd-funding with furries... that's success in "long tail" business :)

Your rating: None

Alas, the most recent attempt to capitalize on animal characters falls straight into the Uncanny Valley.

(Also, pretty sure most of those 2505 Twitter followers are fake . . .)

Your rating: None

Whoah! I looked at two of the preview pics... I don't think cat girl porn with the face I saw would help at all. It was just scary.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None

The project creator appears to have seen the reaction, and it looks like he's scrapped the painted-anime-eyes idea. Perhaps that's enough to give it another chance?

Your rating: None Average: 2.3 (3 votes)

Offbeatr still cracks me up. No beating around the bush with that name.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (6 votes)

Any furry into porn should be put to death.
And it is zoophilia. Because the characters, no matter how human like are not human. Furry fetishists are HUMANS who jerks off to the idea of ANIMAL characters.

I am a furry and I'd never be into the porn.
It's evil and sick and it voids the true, original meaning of furries and the furry fandom.

It's furry fetishists that give real furries the bad name.
If I could ever get away with it, I'd wreck a furry fetishist, I swear on my mam's life.

Furry is not a fucking fetish trend.
It's a fandom, all you in-denial zoophiliac voyeurists can gtfo.

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (3 votes)

You're entitled to your opinion on the role and propriety of how sexuality fits with the furry fandom. But I think you will find that a large majority of furry fans will take the positions described below.

First, they will agree with you that furry is not a sexual fetish. It is first and foremost an interest in anthropomorphic animals, in many aspects and on many levels, a good portion of which have nothing to do with sexuality.

Second, many furry fans have at least some degree of interest in art, stories, and other aspects that include a sexual element, porn if you will. Some do not, but most of those recognize and are okay with the fact that it exists. You can complain all you want but it's not going to go away.

Finally, you'll find there are a lot of differing opinions on what is or isn't furry, and you'll find it a lot easier to get along if you recognize that instead of trying to push your view as the truth.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Please, tell me more about these True FurriesTM!

Do they grow on True Furry farms from real, live True Furry stalks?

Furry Pariah

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

And then I laughed because I remembered this practicing zoophile's username.

Furry Pariah

Your rating: None

Damn my pride, look at all that money I could make if I'd just hustle(r) up my writing.

But no, gotta write clean for some pre-conceived notion that we need good clean writers to offset the smut because people want something to read when they're in public just as much as when they're in the bedroom. Or the fact your roo 'totem' seems to think you have to balance everything, heck with balance get rich mother heffer!

....

Oh, what were we talking about again? Congrats on the successful campaigns and all that.

Your rating: None

Furoticon Online has a update comic in which they admit they're not going to make their July release date. Sexual animations have also been postponed to an expansion. (However, everyone will still be naked.)

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

Vice magazine has noticed Offbeatr's furry success, and covers newer, even more successful projects such as Trials in Tainted Space and Poni Parade.

Post new comment

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <img> <b> <i> <s> <blockquote> <ul> <ol> <li> <table> <tr> <td> <th> <sub> <sup> <object> <embed> <h1> <h2> <h3> <h4> <h5> <h6> <dl> <dt> <dd> <param> <center> <strong> <q> <cite> <code> <em>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

CAPTCHA
This test is to prevent automated spam submissions.
Leave empty.

About the author

GreenReaper (Laurence Parry)read storiescontact (login required)

a software developer and Norn from London, UK, interested in wikis and computers

Small fuzzy creature who likes cheese & carrots. Founder of WikiFur, lead admin of Inkbunny, and Editor-in-Chief of Flayrah.

Page traffic