The CTO, which stands for Chief Technology Officer, is basically the person in charge of all tech related in your business. Traditional tech startups usually have a CTO in their core team. Not only a CTO should know about technology and IT, but he should also know about your business and strategies so that he can take the best decisions accordingly.
Generally, a CTO is very expensive, so much that the business builder would rather share equity right from the beginning, due to the lack of funds. Convincing a CTO to become your associate is very hard because there are so much demand out there.
As a CTO, I often receive this kind of offers and I just have to turn them down because I simply know that each entrepreneur believes strongly in his own business idea but most of them didn’t do their validation homework.
When the entrepreneur fails to convince a CTO to join in, he would just try to outsource the development to a random developer that he may have found on an online marketplace. This solution sometimes works, but it is mostly fails. Here is the whys:
- The specification document is incomplete or non-existent
- He does not speak the developer’s linguo, nor does the developer understand his business linguo, important things get lost in translation
- The technology choices are not even suited to his business, they’re just suited to the developer
- The developer only aims to deliver on time and does not care too much about the quality
- He’s not satisfied with the final work, then chooses not to pay until he gets what he wants. Because he couldn’t specify correctly his needs in the first place, the developer does not accept the terms and decides not to deliver the source code and just vanishes
The entrepreneur’s time, money, energy and possibly motivation get wasted. We want to avoid that worst case scenario. Then, what can we do to hire a CTO with limited budget?
You could hire a Virtual CTO, or also known as an on-demand CTO. At the early stage of your startup creation, you only need the CTO to perform the critical tasks, take the right decisions and build solid foundations of your product. For the development process, which can be long depending on the features of your MVP and their complexity, you could hire an extra developer who has a lower cost.
A Virtual CTO actually operates like a freelancer and can be found on platforms such as upwork.com. The ideal CTO should have experience in the following:
- Team management
- Tech company co-founding
He must have worked in many fields and must have at least 7 years of experience in the tech industry. I know it’s almost like I’m describing myself, but trust me, a CTO is by definition a tech expert with tons of experience and has worked on many, many projects in different phases of their life-cycles. Because he will be an important asset in your team, it is also very important that you get along well with him. I’m assuming that you have no tech knowledge, so a good CTO for you should also be able to speak your language.
Take your time to explain your project to the CTO during the discovery session. He has to fully understand your needs and your constraints so that he can take the best decisions based on the situation.
Since the CTO is also a technical person, he will be able to communicate with the developer in a way that the end result will be very similar to what you had in mind.
Remember, you are building an MVP here, so don’t pay too much attention to the visual details. You just need your MVP to be usable and it only needs to solve the problem, so that you can show it to the potential customers.
There are many CTO you can find on the internet, just make sure that he shows interest in your business and field during the discovery session. Aim for a CTO who likes to work with free open source technologies, that will help you save money down the road.