If you took the photos and videos out of pornography, could it appeal to a new audience? Caroline Spiegel’s first startup Quinn aims to bring some imagination to adult entertainment. Her older brother, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel, spent years trying to convince people his app wasn’t just for sexy texting. Now Caroline is building a website dedicated to sexy text and audio. The 22-year-old college senior tells TechCrunch that on April 13th she’ll launch Quinn, which she describes as “a much less gross, more fun Pornhub for women”.
TechCrunch checked out Quinn’s private beta site, which is pretty bare bones right now. Caroline tells us she’s already raised under a million dollars for the project. But given her brother’s success spotting the next generation’s behavior patterns and turning them into beloved products, Caroline might find investors are eager to throw cash at Quinn. That’s especially true given she’s taking a contrarian approach. There will be no imagery on Quinn.
Caroline explains that “There’s no visual content on the site– just audio and written stories. And the whole thing is open source, so people can submit content and fantasies, etc. Everything is vetted by us before it goes on the site.” Caroline is building Quinn with a three-woman team of her best friends she met while at college at Stanford including Greta Meyer, though they plan to relocate to LA after graduation.
“His dream girl was named ‘Quinn’”
The idea for Quinn sprung from a deeply personal need. “I came up with it because I had to leave Stanford my junior year because i was struggling with anorexia and sexual dysfunction that came along with that” Caroline tells me. “I started to do a lot of research into sexual dysfunction cures. There are about 30 FDA-approved drugs for sexual dysfunction for men but zero for women and that’s a big bummer.”
She believes there’s still a stigma around women pleasuring themselves, leading to a lack of products offering assistance. Sure, there are plenty of porn sites but few are explicitly designed for women, and fewer stray outside of visual content. Caroline says photos and videos can create body image pressure, but with text and audio, anyone can imagine themselves in a scene. “Most visual media perpetuates the male gaze . . . all mainstream porn tells one story . . . You don’t have to fit one idea of what a woman should look like.”
That concept fits with the startup’s name “Quinn”, which Caroline says one of her best guy friends thought up. “He said this girl he met — his dream girl — was named ‘Quinn.’”
Caroline took to Reddit and Tumblr to find Quinn’s first creators. Reddit stuck to text and links for much of its history, fostering the kinky literature and audio communities. And when Tumblr banned porn in December, it left a legion of adult content makers looking for a new home. “Our audio ranges from guided masturbation to overheard sex, and there’s also married stories. It’s literally everything. Different strokes for different for folks, know what I mean?” Caroline says with a cheeky laugh.
To establish its brand, Quinn is running social media influencer campaigns where “The basic idea is to make people feel like it’s okay to experience pleasure. It’s hard to make something like masturbation cool, so that’s a little bit of a lofty goal. We’re just trying to make it feel okay, and even more okay than it is for men.”
As for the business model, Caroline’s research found younger women were embarrassed to pay for porn. Instead Quinn plans to run ads, though there could be commerce opportunities too. And since the site doesn’t bombard users with nude photos or hardcore videos, it might be able to attract sponsors that most porn sites can’t.
Evan is “very supportive”
Until monetization spins up, Quinn has the sub-$1 million in funding that Caroline won’t reveal the source of, though she confirms it’s not from her brother. “I wouldn’t say that he’s particularly involved other than he’s one of the most important people in my life and I talk to him all the time. He gives me the best advice I can imagine” the younger sibling says. “He doesn’t have any qualms, He’s very supportive.”
Quinn will need all the morale it can get, as Caroline bluntly admits “we have a lot of competitors”. There’s the traditional stuff like Pornhub, user generated content sites like Make Love Not Porn, and spontaneous communities like on Reddit. She calls $5 million-funded audio porn startup Dipsea “an exciting competitor” though she notes that “we sway a little more erotic than they do, but we’re so supportive of their mission.” How friendly.
Quinn’s biggest rival will likely be outdated but institutionalized site Literotica, which SimilarWeb ranks as the 60th most popular adult website, 631st most visited site overall, showing it gets 53 million hits per month. But the fact that Literotica looks like a web 1.0 forum yet has so much traffic signals a massive opportunity for Quinn. With rules prohibiting Quinn from launching native mobile apps, it will have to put all its effort into making its website stand out if it’s going to survive.
But more than competition, Caroline fears that Quinn will have to convince women to give its style of porn a try. “Basically, there’s this idea that for men, masturbation is an innate drive and for women it’s a ‘could do without it, could do with it’. Quinn is going to have to make a market alongside a product and that terrifies me” Caroline says, her voice building with enthusiasm. “But that’s what excites me the most about it, because what I’m banking on is if you’ve never had chocolate before, you don’t know. But once you have it, you start craving it. A lot of women haven’t experienced raw, visceral pleasure before, [but once we help them find it] we’ll have momentum.”
Most importantly, Quinn wants all women to feel they have rightful access to whatever they fancy. “It’s not about deserving to feel great, You don’t have to do Pilates to use this. You don’t have to always eat right. There’s no deserving with our product. Our mission is for women to be more in touch with themselves and feel fucking great. It’s all about pleasure and good vibes.”
from Social – TechCrunch https://techcrunch.com/2019/03/29/quinn-porn-caroline-spiegel/
via Superb Summers