We just released the beta version of our web product to our sign ups. Our product design is moderate since at this stage, we are mostly looking into validating our product, but we understand that it needs major UX/UI work soon. Like most start-ups, our team consists of one developer and a CEO with limited financial resources; which leads us the question: when do you think an early stage start-up with a web/mobile product should seriously consider bringing a full-time designer on board (equity/cash) and how should they get design work done before that stage?
As a UX Designer currently, I would bring in a UI and UX designer as soon as possible. Reason be, if work goes to far, you could be looking at higher expenses to restructure and/or redesign everything to fit the requirements that provides a great user experience for your customers/clients. Understanding the financial resources are limited working in an Agile approach may help to determine the structure of the design work, web / mobile. This way the team can develop within stages (or called in Agile, sprints) to accomplish the project within a timely manner while sticking to the budget. Also, look at developing the web product in a responsive format design to minimize cost.