Does there need to be a pain point for an investor to invest?

I recently met with Nic Brisbourne at DFJ Esprit and pitched him for investment into a company that I am involved with; so was interested to see his view on whether something can be fun, meet no ‘pain point’ and raise investment. After all life should be fun…

The pleasure principle – companies shouldn’t only focus on pain points

Perna Gupta is the CEO of Khush, the developer behind the music creation iPhone app LaDiDa – an app which has been downloaded 270,000 times and is unashamedly about having fun.  She wrote a guest post on Techcrunch on Sunday complaining about how her company had got to the final stages of two prestigious start-up competitions, been the audience favourite, but been dismissed by judges because she isn’t solving an obvious pain point.  In her words:

Earlier this year, my company advanced to the final stages of two prestigious start-up competitions. Both times, I got up on stage and belted out my prezo in C Major (our product is LaDiDa, an iPhone app that helps bad singers make music), and then backed up the singing with solid growth metrics on our business. The audience loved it, and LaDiDa was a crowd favorite to win in both contests. But when it came time for the judges’ feedback, I was frustrated to hear a familiar refrain: “Your demo is great, really cool app,” they said, “but we can’t give you this award because your product doesn’t solve any obvious pain point.”

In the rest of the post she goes on to argue that investors’ focus on pain points is resulting in a lot of worthwhile companies not getting funded.  As she points out, Twitter and Facebook weren’t about solving pain points when they started.  Nor are the pornography, sports and coffee industries.

As an investor I love a business that solves a clear pain point as much as anyone.  When pain is being removed it is much easier to be sure that a market is there, but I think our major pain points have largely been solved, and targeting pleasure, or happiness is increasingly going to be where the action is.

For most consumers the burning question is ‘how can I be happier’ rather than ‘I wish I could get rid of XYZ irritant’.  And LaDiDa makes people happier, it is fun, it promotes togetherness and sharing, and it makes you a better singer.  What’s not to like?

Check out this promo video from their iPad app to get a flavour (and this is a fun experience too…)


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