For a while now, certain venture capitalists have had an unwritten rule: a good team consists of a developer, a designer, and a CEO. But I have news. It’s not a designer you need. It’s a system architect.
The designer; you can squeak by with any number of options. Crowdsource, Outsource, Retail Design Market, take your pick.
But when it comes to creating a product that can scale to the first million users, you still need someone who can make that work. Look at how technical Instagram was, and how much of their IP was actually in the backend systems. The best competitive advantage is a nimble infrastructure.
Look, no one wants to spend time worrying about features that don’t add value. But if you can only pick three roles, I’d lean towards having a CEO and Developer who both really understand the product, and how it should work, and what makes a good user interface. Then, instead of the designer, you could put the emphasis on creating a better product.
In the end, what matters is that you solve users problem, and you do it in the optimal way. To get there you’ll need serious horsepower, and it’s probably not coming from the graphics designer. When you can’t ship your product, but the color scheme is perfect, you still can’t ship your product. The inverse is not true.
My perfect team is to find someone who wants to build large systems, and someone who wants to market and sell them. And I think that just maybe it could be all coming together soon. If you’re a system architect out there, and you’re looking for a new opportunity, please let me know.