For my wit, I do a 1L starter the morning of brew day and pitch it into the beer about 8 hours later. This is definitely better than pitching direct from the tube since the yeast will be active and there will be some growth which reduces the lag time considerably.
Another thing that will help improve ester production is to do an open fermentation. In a bucket you can accomplish this by simply putting a solid bung in the airlock hole and loosely fitting the lid over the fermenter. In a carboy, just cover the neck with aluminum foil. Once fermentation slows, affix an airlock as usual.