The founder and the vision.

Oct '13

As a developer and and through my journey of founding different startups, I've come to realise how important the vision is, when it comes to product development. To me, it's a matter of design*.

*Design should be understood as a wide as possible. I do not mean "pixel pushing" in any way.

Many people want to build a product as their startup. This product comes from an idea, a problem identified or simply a dream. If you want to create a company around your product, this product is certainly part of your vision. While saying "I want to build this" is an easy thing, designing (and implementing) it is a whole other ballgame.

If you have the idea, you should design the product.

With the hype of startup comes a natural flow of startup enthusiasts. It's a very good thing that people are giving attention to the startup ecosystem and want to contribute by dominating the worldhelping building a better world. But in my view, if you are the founder that had the idea, you should be able to build it, at least, at a bare minimum. Simply because having someone designing your product will take way longer than what you anticipated. You will have to spend many hours with the designer to ensure that he respect your vision. Why not doing it yourself then ? Why not laying down the plans to build your castle ?

It is only by designing your idea that you can get a grasp on its limits and feasability. There is nothing more annoying than to hear someone contacting me and saying "I got an idea, we just have to build it".

The motivational effect of the product designer.

Everyone like to say "I am independent". But in reality, most of us mean "I like to have a certain freedom in what I do". This is two different things. And your team will be no exception.

Each team member like to see a clear and well built roadmap. Sure one can understand that plans are changing along the way, but what can be more satisfying that seeing a founder having a plan for his product and sticking to it ?

It is by immersing yourself in your product that you will be able to make the most informative decisions about it. Don't hope that the team will just make your product. The team will simply help you doing it. But you will be the one stirring the boat. And in your journey, people will join you and make design decision themselves.

Hopefully, you have some co-founders that can take on the other important tasks from the everyday startup life.

It cannot be about the money.

Lots of people understood that building a startup is not about money. And people joining a startup want to be taken on a journey. This journey is not about your personal profit. Showing relentless commitment to your product and its design is probably the stongest message that one founder can send. It means "I love so much what we do together". Do it everyday until you find someone who is better than you at it.

This will ultimately show devotion and will to have the journey right. Don't assume that people believe in what you say. People will believe in what you do.

The ability of shipping when designing your product

I am impressed by jennifer Dewalt and her 180 website in 180 days. This proofs the power of doing. This also shows that learning is an ongoing process. You probably want to recruit people like jennifer. People that are versatile, self driven. Why not starting with yourself and be versatile ? Go, jump and ship an alpha version of your dream product.

Other people already do it.

Many people have already written on the subject of having designers part of the founders. Pinterest, AirBnB are a great example. Some funds have also been dedicated to companies having a designer on board. Even though you may not be a pure designer, thinking like one may help. And for that, there are some great resources around the internet. Here is one.

Yes, I know that the life of a founder is also about recruiting, running after investors, making plans, changing plans. But don't expect that your team will build your vision out of thin air and 1 hour meeting.

They will build your vision once you have lead the path and walk the talk.