I understand where you’re coming from, and there’s an argument for a threshold level of design quality necessary for all startups, but here’s where I disagree with your premise. Of all the startups I’ve watched, the ones that spend the first few months of their startup’s life defining their brand, and defining rules of their brand design, before a single line of code is written or the company’s website goes live, these are the companies that tend to stand out and succeed. Why? Because in order have a solid understanding of your brand and it’s visual identity you need to be intimately familiar with your marketplace, your audience, and the companies you will compete against. To do so you need to define your company in a way that stands out, that speaks loudly, that tells others you’re the best new venture coming to market. Threshold level design doesn’t get you the crowd pleasing attention your startup needs. It just a mid-level benchmark all other startups target, at best. Think deeply first, research, define, design thoughtfully, build, go to market, succeed.