Written by Leif Steiner & Emily Potts. Originally published on December 13th, 2016 for Moxie Sozo.
When Cindy Gallop introduced her social sex start-up concept to a live audience in 2009, she really had no idea what she was getting herself into. She unwittingly tapped into a huge global category, but found it damn-near impossible to get any backing—financial, technical, or social. It was a conundrum of epic proportions.
However, that did not deter her. In fact, if you tell Gallop she can’t do something, it will only strengthen her resolve to prove otherwise. This is a woman who likes to “blow shit up.” Her words, not mine. Having worked in business communications for more than 20 years, mainly with Bartle Bogle Hegarty as the founder and former chair of the U.S. branch, she now runs her own consulting business, as well as her start-ups If We Ran The World and Make Love Not Porn. She knows a thing or two about getting shit done and if you don’t like what she’s doing, then move along. She has no time for you.
This is not a story about sex. This is about one woman’s relentless pursuit to build an entire business category in order for her company and others like it to succeed, despite countless obstacles that would have deterred most sane people.
M: Let’s talk about Make Love Not Porn and what happened immediately after that famous TED talk in 2009, where you introduced the website and concept for this.
C: Make Love Not Porn (MLNP) is a complete and total accident. It began as a side venture I launched at Ted. That talk elicited an extraordinary global response that I had never anticipated. It went global without me lifting a finger.
Every single day for the past eight years, I’ve received emails to my MLNP inbox—thousands–from people of different ages, ethnicities, sexual orientations from every single country in the world. What amazes people is the fact that I stood on stage in public and talked about what everyone knows, but they don’t talk about. As a result, people feel like they can tell me anything. They pour their hearts out, and they tell me about their sex lives and porn habits. They write to me for advice. And it was the sheer cumulative impact of all of these emails arriving day after day, that made me feel I now have a personal responsibility to take this initiative forward and make it more far reaching, effective, and helpful. That’s why I decided to turn it into a business.