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When you’re building a Custom product, a product that is completely innovating your industry, or inventing a new model, hiring a CTO is vital to steer your company in the right direction. But, you’re probably wondering, “How am I going to find the right CTO or Technical Co-founder to take on this critical role?
What are the CTO’s Common Responsibilities?
First, before we dive into how to hire a CTO, let’s clarify the typical responsibilities this position holds. Being a CTO is more than just a title; it’s one of the most essential roles in a company. This individual will not only lead teams but will also influence business decisions and build tech strategies. Here are some typical responsibilities of a CTO or Technical Co-founder:
- Technical Strategy for a Business
CTOs must know all the innovations happening in their industry. For example, if you’re in the packaging industry or promotional products, your CTO should know the latest tech in delivery platforms, warehousing, drop-shipping, and logistics. A good CTO also has to look at competitors and analyze what technologies they’re using to stay ahead. Given the position CTOs have in the company, they can influence the company’s business strategy and tech strategy to fit the innovation landscape and advance against competitors.
- Product Architecture
Product Architecture is also part of the company’s tech strategy. This looks at the strategy from a bird’s eye view. The CTO must know what technology to use, including programming languages, how to build frameworks, and also what type of team would be best suited to build the company’s product.
- Design a Technical Team
The CTO or Technical Co-founder must be able to assess the project and know what positions to add to the team to properly build the product. As the technology landscape changes, it’s important to have a technical team consisting of experts in their field working and innovating on your company’s product.
- Product Phasing
When a CTO is building a product, creating processes, and a team, it’s not something that they just do once, they have to constantly keep up with the latest features and stay on top of tech innovations within their industry. This means having to repeat processes, maintaining the right team for the project, and staying informed in the space.
- Represent the Company Externally for Integrations and Partnerships
If the company wants to create partnerships with other tech companies like Spotify, Shopify, or Amazon for example, the CTO will represent the company. Through the CTO’s partnership efforts, it may produce better infrastructure costs and help handle compliance.
- Manage Costs for Tech
CTOs help manage budgets related to the product and make sure that projects are done within the given timeline and budget.
Can a Current Team Member Grow Into the Role of CTO?
Even though a current developer on your team can grow in the role of CTO, they would need to wear a lot of hats early on and take on new leadership responsibilities. However, they can’t just become a CTO overnight and handle all the tasks that CTOs have to do. It’s advisable to hire a CTO that already has experience managing teams or a technical co-founder who’s held leadership positions. Overseeing teams and several projects at once is a responsibility that seasoned CTOs need to have to align with the company’s tech strategy.
Employing a CTO Off the Job Market
You might think hiring off the job market is a good idea because there are experienced CTOs out there. However, since CTO is such an important role in the company, completely trusting an individual from a few interviews and their resume may not be the best way to know if someone will be good for your company. This is also a more expensive option since you may have to hire a talent agency to scout and convince talent to apply to the position, or even give more equity away and more expensive salaries. Overall, hiring off the job market is risky. Unless you can validate their experience from your network, this option is not advisable.
Hire a Team of Developers & Manage Them on Your Own
Hiring a team of developers and managing them on your own is also a risky option. First, you may not have the technical expertise and leadership skills to lead a team of developers. Also, many things can go wrong. What if one of the developers quits, how fast can you interview and rehire? There may be performance issues as well and what if the code is not scalable? You would have to be the one responsible when things go wrong. It’s a lot of pressure to run the business side of the company as well as the tech. Hiring a team of developers is not a good option at this point.
Hiring a CTO Within Your Network
Finding a CTO or Technical Co-founder within your network is the best possible outcome. If you’ve worked on teams with them before and know their leadership skills and how they manage teams, this will make working with them much easier. Even if trusted colleagues’ trust can validate their experience, this will give you a better perspective on who you’re onboarding to your team. Hiring within your network is the most desirable option, but it does require a lot of connections and trust.
Hiring an Agency
If you don’t have the privilege of having a big network to recruit possible CTOs or Technical Co-founders, hiring an Agency will be your next best option. Even though there can be a conflict of interest with agencies because it can be a transactional relationship, that can be eliminated with agencies investing in your product. For example with Aleph One, we started investing in our clients as well as helping them develop their software. This meant that we were more motivated to see our clients succeed and we were supporting them directly to achieve their goals through our software development work.
If you are hiring an agency, we challenge you to ask your prospects if they are willing to invest in your product. If the agency answers yes, even if they invest only $5 – 15K of cash, then it’s a great agency because they believe in your product. However, if they answer no, that’s a red flag because they don’t believe in your product or they may be having cash flow issues. A good agency should always have capital available in case of economic downturns. It’s important to work with an agency that is stable and can scale and grow with your product.
Knowing the CTO’s common responsibilities helps to properly hire your next CTO or Technical Co-founder. Remember, the best options are to hire within your network or to work with an agency that is willing to invest in your product. With the right CTO or agency partner, your company can stay at the forefront of tech innovation, continue to grow and scale, and build toward success.
At Aleph One we are a venture studio that invests in companies and builds custom software. We invest cash into the businesses we believe in and we partner with our clients as a software development agency to make sure that your tech needs are met. If you would like to learn more about our venture studio and who we invest in, please contact us.
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