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17 Comments

Designer as co-founder?

Has any developer-type paired up with a designer as a co-founder?

I have some ideas that would need a design element as well, but if you start a project with a designer with a 50/50 division, it feels like there would be a lot more work for me as a developer.

How have you resolved this?

  1. 1

    If the designer can take over marketing duties, the split is ok. Marketing & design are closely related.

  2. 1

    Define designer.

    A UI/Visual Designer...probably not, but maybe.

    The majority of profits and eventual market leaders do it through Simplifying:

    1. Price simplification. This is where you're at least 20% cheaper than the alternative.
    2. Value proposition simplification. Your product is at least 20% more useful, easier to use, and aesthetically pleasing.

    Number 2 is definitely a place where a UX Design person can help. This involves taking a complex problem and designing a useful, easy to use, good looking solution.

  3. 1

    All you need initially are some wireframes and a pre-built component pack that supports theming. Follow theming guidelines and get it functional and usable then you can worry about tweaking design later. It is easier to negotiate equity with a working product than it is before it's built.

  4. 1

    In my actual experience, the co-founders who didn't work out were the individual contributors who can provide a specific skill set but NOT run a business like a founder together.

    I wouldn't co-found with someone who just merely provides a specific service in exchange for 50/50 equity. I would just hire a designer for a fee to help you come up with a design for your product, and just implement it yourself. A few thousand dollars spent here and there will save you a lot of money compared to the legal fee you pay to onboard/terminate a co-founder and the value of 50% of your company which can be in millions if it works out.

    As a co-founder, I designed a logo, created all UI-designs, run customer/market researches, built all the front-end apps, created an iOS app, pitching the business to the potential leads, etc. Are they willing to do anything they can to run a business like a co-founder?

  5. 1

    Our team at Standard Resume is two designers and one developer (me).

    It really depends on how much design work is needed for your project and how competitive you want to be on design. We've benefited from having better designed resume templates and marketing materials than our competitors. People notice it and talk about it.

    1. 1

      If design is a focus and/or your USP, then there's no argument from me that it would be better to have two people than one (even if it's just for the sake of bouncing ideas off of each other and reviewing each other's work).

      But, how do you think the division of labor has been between the three of you? Maybe it hasn't been an issue anyway?

      1. 1

        The division of labor has been ok. I have a lot of experience though, so I'm able to build things extremely fast on my own.

  6. 1

    It really depends on what your building. If you are building something that requires a lot of design work and if that design work will continue to be a big part of the work you do, then you probably should partner with a designer. Otherwise, maybe consider hiring a designer. If you don't have the money, you might be able to offer some creative compensation, like royalties or options.

    Also, if you don't have experience with sales, then I think partnering up with someone with sales experience could be a great idea.

    1. 1

      Also, if you don't have experience with sales, then I think partnering up with someone with sales experience could be a great idea.

      I think this is a good idea. I guess the best would be to find a designer that also has the business mindset and is allright with doing other tasks.

      1. 1

        It's also sometimes a good idea to have more than one partner. I've had that work for me in the past.

  7. 1

    in regard of @thomasdrach words.

    Find a designer who can code. While you're coding the "important" stuff, a designer who can code is likely to be able to take on at least the markup and styling of the project. Taking some coding off your plate.

    I could help anytime.

    here is my work, I have designed and developed the sites myself.

    you can hit me up on Twitter @mike_andreuzza

    Edit: Jag kan svenska också, jag bör själv på Åland.

    1. 1

      Kul! I'll message you on Twitter.

  8. 1

    I have 10 years of design experience in startups, and I agree with your statement that there is more work as a developer. If you have a feature or product, the design work required to be sufficient is much less than the time spent "building" it with code.

    That being said, it can still work really well. Here are some ideas...

    Find a designer who can code. While you're coding the "important" stuff, a designer who can code is likely to be able to take on at least the markup and styling of the project. Taking some coding off your plate. This also creates a nice symmetry where the designer is in charge of manifesting their designs visually. There's less back and forth this way and is more effective.

    Another option is for the designer to take on additional responsibilities. Good user research looks a lot like early customer development: talking to current or potential customers in a way that adds value to the product. This is easily a job on its own, and arguably the other most important priority, other than building the product.

    The designer could also take on the other roles of your project depending on what you're building: marketing and selling, admin work, branding and visual collateral, etc.

    Just some ideas, it definitely works!

    1. 1

      Yeah, I think that's a sound take on it; to find a designer that is also willing to do some other key tasks as well.

  9. 1

    Hi Poyan,

    I'm a "designer" (but I hate labelling myself as one - I hate labelling in general).

    I've been involved in some projects every now and then and always felt like I was supposed to be the guy who was left behind doing the visual work, without having the rights to talk about the project and help in some other way.

    I think it could be a matter of relationship.
    If you are co-founders and have a good business related relationship, I believe both of you could find a good balance..

    1. 2

      without having the rights to talk about the project and help in some other way.

      I don't think that's a good way of building the best product.

      What I'm getting at is that in the beginning both people might need to put in 100% of their time, but as the project progresses, the time required from the designer to do at least design work will decrease a lot faster than the development work.

      At least that has been my experience.

      Not sure how you should tackle that.

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