Either you are looking to launch a startup, or you've successfully launched a startup, you'll agree with me that the competition to hire the right people for key positions is fierce. Getting great-minded, skillful, organized professionals with the mental 🧠 strength and vitality to lead your startup to fortune requires effort. Success requires an early-on definition of roles and responsibilities for all members of staff and board. Therefore, each person knows exactly what their role is and how to approach it.
Maybe when you started yours, you had someone appointed as Chief Technological Officer (CTO) because most successful startups have one. But did you stop to ask yourself why you needed one? This article will explain why you need a CTO in your startup and the proper way to find one. But, first, let's clarify the role of a CTO in a startup.
Who is a CTO?
The term - CTO is an acronym for Chief Technology Officer. The role isn't always clearly defined within startups, and neither does the term gets tossed around carelessly. Here are some things a CTO isn't;
- The employee who fixes your personal or work computer when it’s running slowly is not your CTO.
- Your lead developer is not your CTO.
- Your project supervisor is not your CTO.
Now, here’s what a CTO really is; a quick Wikipedia search will tell you a CTO "is an executive-level position in a company or other entity whose occupation is focused on the scientific and technological issues within an organization." Thus, CTOs are management-level staff who understand the business, are closely aligned with its objectives. In addition, they offer intelligent suggestions on using technology to achieve goals.
“But,” you say, “can’t the senior developer handle that role until the startup is established and we can afford to hire a proper CTO?” After all, the senior developer is usually the highest technological person available when launching a startup, so this might seem like a good idea. Honestly, though, it really isn’t. For starters, a CTO’s role is 90% research and management, and they typically don't do any development. In contrast, a developer literally has no other purpose than developing and maybe 10% research when necessary.
Besides, employing a developer with a tentative "CTO" title can be damaging. Think about what will happen to them when the roles are finally defined, and you need to hire a proper CTO. You'd probably demote the developer and bring in someone to fill the position. Man, I do not want to be that guy! On the other hand, if you don't want to hurt your developer's feelings or want to avoid that awkward discussion (it is a very awkward one), they'd have to take on increasing technical management responsibilities, which they might not be qualified to handle.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s see why you need a CTO in your startup.
CTO Roles and Responsibilities For Your Startup
A startup CTO does not handle the same responsibilities as a CTO in a big company. They're similar in that they're charged with the company's technological advancements, but they're not exactly the same. The most significant difference is their goals; a big company CTO works toward long-term goals, while a startup CTO is concerned with the organization's rapid growth. This fundamental difference guides how they approach their responsibilities.
Here are some of those responsibilities:
• Manage the technology stack
The CTO has a good understanding of projects' needs and requirements; thus, they're in the best position to select the technology stack for the project and make it available to the teams handling the projects. In addition, they choose the technologies and collaborative tools used within the organization. They also oversee and manage the hardware and server infrastructure utilized in the organization.
• Manage teams and operations
Good human relations is a fundamental quality all CTOs must possess as they are responsible for attracting engineering and development talents. They know that startups are only as successful as the developers on the teams. They know the type of "flair" - skills and abilities - those teams need and learn to look for them in potential hires.
CTO's are charged with managing established teams as they work through various stages of project completion. Project supervisors and directors report to them and work hand-in-hand with them to increase the efficiency of those teams and the technical sides of the projects in progress.
• Manage performance
CTO's know what performance indicators to look out for and how to use these to improve performance. They work closely with developers to identify areas where routine needs to be improved. They also know that developers who are doing the work are best positioned to suggest improvement strategies. They incentivize or reward developers for their hard work, so they stay motivated to keep giving their all.
• Manage external relations
If your startup is marketing a new, innovative technology or product, who do you think is responsible for getting the public pumped about the product? You guessed it; the CTO. The CTO who must have a profound understanding of the product, the technologies involved in crafting it, and its potential applications will serve as the face of the startup as he creates awareness about it. He'll also handle the responsibility of inspiring trust in the product in the minds of investors.
Investors and other funding providers will have first reviewed a startup's leadership, including the CTO, before entering into an agreement with the organization. Therefore, hiring a qualified CTO will be especially beneficial for your startup at this point.
See why you need a CTO in your startup already? They handle so many specialized responsibilities; those highlighted above are just a start. Let’s see how you should approach hiring one.
Hiring a CTO the Proper Way
You should know by now which qualities to look out for when hiring a CTO. From the responsibilities previously highlighted, you can deduce the following skills for starters
- Work well with others
- Be a team player
- Well-versed in technology and business
- Be goal-oriented
- Possess excellent leadership skills
- Be well-spoken
- Be approachable
- Be a good listener
- Be able to offer constructive criticism
You’ll want to look out for all of these when you consider applicants for the position. It’s a big decision and can spell either doom or bloom for your startup, so choose carefully and patiently.
Speaking of patience, do not be in a hurry to hire a CTO. Yes, your startup needs one. But you can make do with a placeholder to lead your startup during the self-funding stages as it takes off at first (without the official description, of course).
When you're finally ready and financially buoyant enough to hire one, speak to others who've been in your situation about it. Ask them how they handled the hiring process. Eventually, you'll find the right person for the job, someone who has your startup's best interests at heart and knows how to achieve them.
Startups are risky. In fact, 90% of startups end up failing. It would be best if you planned for success and leverage people's technical skills. Essentially, you're going out on a limb and hoping your products or services do well on the market. But, without decisive, strategic planning and technical support, success may never happen. And that is precisely why you need a CTO in your startup. By providing a clear technological roadmap towards achieving your objectives, a CTO will significantly boost your chances of success. Hiring a decent one will probably be the best business decision you ever made.
However, your CTO can neither know it all nor do it all. That's why our team at Qodeca is always available to digitalize both startup and established businesses. We deliver several exceptional services including the development of mobile applications and web applications. If your users aren't 100% happy, we'll work with you to achieve perfection. Our services are affordable and there are no hidden charges. Feel free to claim your free consultation today.