Andrei Kassianau, Co-Founder and CEO of Glorium Technologies. Startup Advisor, Health Technology Specialist, Real Estate Technology.
Hiring the right Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for your startup can be difficult as it will affect the future growth of your business. There is no roadmap for how or when to hire a CTO for your business, as all startups are different. This article will cover the value a CTO brings to a business and when it is critical to hire one for your startup.
What is CTO?
CTO is a C-level position that combines both technology and business involvement. In other words, a CTO is a person who brings in the best software development teams and makes sure that your business needs are reflected in your product by making the best use of technology. According to STXNext’s Global CTO Survey 2020, 51% of survey respondents joined startups as CTOs. Although a CTO wears many hats (being a technical and operational lead), the responsibilities of the position can vary depending on the type, needs and structure of a startup.
According to Gartner, Inc., there are four key CTO personalities; to keep in mind when looking to hire one.
• Digital business leader stays up-to-date on all technology trends and keeps an eye on competitors — how they’re using new technology and how your startup can benefit from it.
• The business tool ensures risks are assessed, technology performs well and is aligned with business goals. Thus, the CTO person also leads and manages the software development team, ensuring that the collaboration is fruitful and leads to the achievement of the goal.
• The IT innovator represents modernization and innovation, leading the software development team in an agile environment.
• The COO of the IT department focuses on on-time delivery, IT procurement, supplier management and ensuring internal and external sources are aligned and achieving a mutual goal.
When to hire a CTO
As I mentioned earlier, there are no hard and fast rules for when you should hire a CTO, but there are several guidelines that you should be aware of.
1. You are a non-technical founder. It’s hard to keep up and be on the same page with the development team when you don’t have specific knowledge. Hire a CTO you can trust—someone you respect (maybe even admire), who understands technology and operations, and who is willing to invest his time, effort, and knowledge into your company. For the CTO, it is necessary to fully commit to a project in order to achieve great things.
2. You need a leader to guide the software development process. The right person in the CTO seat can guide and mentor your development team, sharing their technical expertise. A CTO can also help acquire and manage the required software that can help your business grow, scale and become more competitive in the market.
3. You require digital transformation. It may be time to update and take your company to the next level if you have legacy systems and an outdated approach to managing software development teams. If you have a larger business, the whole innovation process can be difficult, but that’s no reason to give up. A CTO can be helpful in this case to make the transition smoother. Think about your users who demand the best possible experience. A CTO can help you achieve this goal.
4. You have to consider the growth of your company while someone takes care of the technology. Let’s say you’re at the point where your startup is stable and generating revenue, but you need to push it further so it can grow and scale. A CTO can facilitate your company’s technology transformation so you don’t go over budget or have to radically adjust your product architecture to attract more users.
Where to find a CTO for hire
If you don’t have technical knowledge, hiring a CTO can be a challenge. However, there are ways you can make the process of choosing the right person easier.
• Search the platforms where most of the C-level communication happens. Look through platforms like Angel.co, Indie Hackers, Reddit, or CoFoundersLab.
• Consult an external software development company that can help you hire the right person for the job based on your business needs. Make sure you do your research on different outsourced software development companies to determine the best fit.
• Use social networking sites to fill your CTO position. Platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter can be great tools to find and connect with the best professionals in your industry and discuss job opportunities.
Overall, the right time to hire a CTO varies from business to business. For some startups, the need for a CTO is there from the start. For others, it may coincide with when a startup has just received funding and is building technical capacity by hiring outsourced development teams. The bottom line is that hiring a CTO for a startup should be justified both technically and financially.