Product and design in early-stage startups

Fred Wilson on what’s needed to build product in the early stages of a startup, in The Management Team While Building Product:

Building product is not about having a large team to manage. It is about having a small team with the right people on it. You need product, design, and software engineering skills on the team. And you need to be focused, committed, and driven. Management at this point is all about small team dynamics; everyone on board, working together, and getting stuff done. Strong individual contributors are key in this stage. Management skills are not a requirement. In fact they may even be a hindrance.

Startup teams always have software engineering skills on board from the very beginning – as they should. But too often you see marketing and business development skills being added before you see product/design skills. This leads down a dangerous path that too often ends in a catastrophic lack of product/market fit.