Damn, this is exactly what I want to do. Computer vision too.
Do you have any advice other than "don't"?
Would basing the company on the East coast near a tier-1 research university help with talent?
Could you have strong software engineers support the research roles? Does that pattern work effectively?
Another thing I really want to do is offer a 4-day work week with the promise of sabbaticals and/or remote work. That might not be attractive to everyone, but it's something that would speak to me and that I would want in addition to equity and salary.
Are you still interested in computer vision? Want to chat sometime?
I think this would be a very strong advantage in the hiring market (assuming you can raise money from investors who're okay with it).
I'm not your target market (I'm just an in-demand software engineer who happens to be learning ML, not a top computer vision researcher), but this is something I'd be willing to accept substantially lower comp for.
Unfortunately most startups seem to require even higher work output than big tech.
The catch here is this will potentially enable you to hire those 10x people. Even at reduced productivity, 80% of 10x is more than double productivity for 100% of 3-4x people, and perhaps this work environment will foster other people to increase their productivity as well.
With the right people and product, I see this as the ultimate weapon against big tech, most of which will have shareholders that will act a lot more conservatively when it comes to risks compared to startups.
This is not something big tech will be able to accommodate in the current macro-economic environment, no board will approve basically a 20% salary bump to all employees and while risking a potential drop in productivity.
FAANG don't have offices here and don't offer remote positions, so no one is competing with them. As a result senior developers are getting like $130k or something, and seem to be happy with that.
Some people (myself included) don't want to move anywhere else even for $500k. So it seems like a nice little arbitrage.
I think the answer is, know exactly how you want to exit before you start and plan for that. Realize also that is 180 degrees polar opposite of how the major VC's want you to approach it - so if you wanted institutional money from Sequoia etc... they won't invest if they know that is the case. There are a lot of good reasons why they take that approach, power law and all.
The reality is, your best case scenario is most likely an acquisition. Which might be exactly what you want, and if so absolutely go for it, but you need to really understand how and why and when the companies you are targeting do their acquisitions. This is incredibly hard to do if you haven't gone through multiple acquisition Due Diligence processes before, but I know of people who have repeatedly done this, so it can be done.
As to the other points, there are too many variables to say whether those are good ideas or not, totally depends on what you're trying to do.
My advice is to find a technical co-founder who has built and scaled a CV system at a larger tech company, but who is looking for a new challenge. There are a lot of annoying problems that can be solved with CV as long as you create a way for users to help you get labeled data.