(A Warm Introduction) I’d like to thank you very much for taking the time to read this. As a solo-founder I worked on a side project which turned into an mvp and gained some minor traction then realized a UX designer is vital after revenue. (Information about me) I'm on the search for a talented UX designer and as a solo-founder I will be doing all the recruiting. I built a product, shipped it out to a very small subset of users, and received some feedback but not even close to Product-M-Fit. The product is validated and profit has been made, but the must-have experience is absent. (Can I have your opinion?) All I ask if you could give me one piece of advice, for the following question. What would you do if you were a Solo-Founder with a limited network, and no funding as of right now to recruit a top UX designer? First Hypothesis: To recruit a UX designer before funding, and offer equity percentage in the company. Seal the deal, Hire the UX designer after funding. Try and convince the UX designer to collaborate with me to conduct deep user research (technically for no compensation) while I look for funding. Second Hypothesis: Recruit and hire (out of my Pocket) UX designer before funding, conduct heavy research, and user testing. (I can’t really afford to spend a lot though) (Only Previous Founders,Angels,or UX Designers Please answer)
I can answer this from the perspective of a UX designer who is working on a couple startups.
First of all, your second hypothesis doesn't sound feasible. You aren't going to attract top talent if you can't afford to pay them. And you don't want to be worrying about spending your savings at the same time you're trying to get this off the ground.
I'm a bit intrigued by why you absolutely need a top UX designer. As a designer myself, I think that only another designer could be so certain that their specific design is going to be the ultimate differentiator - so good that it could turn into a profitable business.
Generally, a non-designer (most people, like yourself) have a business problem that they are trying to solve. Good design certainly helps, but not nearly as much as actually solving the problem. Your design only needs to be good enough to get customers. Normally it should be treated like any other part of the business else that improves over time (or not) with each future investment.
If you want to recruit someone by offering them equity, you have to sell them on your vision. Attend local events and talk to everyone you can. Tell them your idea and what kind of person you are looking for. (Tip: If you don't want to tell them your whole idea, tell them part of it in such a way that it comes across as the full idea.) If you believe in your vision strongly enough, you will find a UX designer out there who might see your project as the perfect opportunity to make it into a profitable business by leveraging their skillset.
Personally, when I see a great business plan and product that had a lot of potential, and recognize that UX is the bottleneck, I can't help myself but want to make it better.
I hope that helps. If I knew more about your business and product, I could offer more specific advice - even about the interface itself. Feel free to set up a call :)