Everybody knows this classic Silicon Valley start-up tandem with a visionary and a technical genius. Apple’s Jobs and Woz duo is the canonical example of such a symbiosis. They changed the world with their products and set the industry’s standards for generations to come.
Some people would say that one does not need a tech co-founder or CTO on their team. Nowadays, they can hire a start-up software development company. Fair enough: professional development companies can free you from all the app development concerns. If the company has experience of working with start-ups and provides a full cycle of services, the necessity for your own CTO disappears.
Even though you can do without this kind of person, having a technical officer on board can enhance your product development and significantly increase your stakes for success. Why? Let’s find out in this article.
Start-up CTO responsibilities
CTO plays a vital part in your digital product development. No matter what type of team you hire, in-house or outsourced developers need supervision and a wise guiding hand to point you in the right development direction. Being a part of c-class management, CTO has a certain interest in the project’s success. This person will be that meticulous inspector who will make sure your ideas are properly realized in the tech field.
But remember - the role of a CTO in a start-up differs dramatically from the technical executive in an established business. Mostly, due to the unpredictable nature of start-up projects. So, look for a person that is flexible and ready for the unplanned changes in the development course.
Here is what a start-up CTO does:
Controls the development process
The most obvious field of responsibility of a start-up CTO is app creation process management. Tracking performance of the team, meeting deadlines and following the milestones as planned will be in the hands of your technical officer. Additionally, the CTO should prepare interim reports on the performance and present it to your management board.
Leads the developers
First of all, a start-up CTO should be the mastermind behind all the start-up app creation process and manage the development team. It’s a person who keeps the blueprint of the objectives, time frames, and product requirements in mind and projects it onto the other team members. The CTO controls the pace of development and sets the coding standards.
Yet, the start-up application development process is not only about the coding itself. Ideally, technical officers are role models, teachers, and good friends for your app development team. They inspire, support, and build their mindset to create a better product. Above that, the CTO seeks to prevent burnout in the team, being attentive to the moods and performance of each team member.
Selects tech stack
Choosing the development platforms and software also lies on the CTO. A chief technical officer sees what tools, programming languages, and 3’d party services will make your idea shine through the app functionalities.
As a consequence, the CTO will participate in the budgeting and planning processes because the choice of a tech stack has a direct influence on your resource distribution.
Another vital CTO function is development team recruitment. Not only should he or she examine the incoming CVs and participate in the job interviews, but have an eye for talent. Creative developers can change your software development game dramatically, bringing fresh ideas and finding more productive ways of building the product. Hiring an outstanding mobile developer, for instance, takes some recruitment talent as well. Apart from spotting the right professionals for your project, CTO must catch their attention and create the proper working environment to give the tablets space for growth.
Skills and Qualities of a great start-up CTO
First and foremost, a CTO should stand to his name with exceptional expertise and experience in the software development field. A rookie or layman would never carry through the start-up software development life cycle and have the respect of other developers on the team to lead them. So, a senior developer status, versatile expertise, and experience are the must for start-up CTO. Generally, the fields of competence of a great chief technical officer are the following:
- Product development process envisioning and roadmap creation;
- Quality assurance;
- Expertise in more than one programming language.
As the main tech figure on the team, the CTO should be able to make the right decisions, considering multiple influence factors (e.g. budget, marketing data).
As we mentioned, start-up CTO should be able to respond to the changing requirements & market environment instantly. Thus, ad-hoc decision-making is one of the most valuable skills for a tech manager in a start-up.
Experience of working with start-ups
Although it is not a must-have experience for a start-up CTO, it’s a great productivity booster. If your tech partner is well-informed about the specifics of the start-up software development process management, he/she will be much more effective. You won’t need to explain the workflow and he won’t be disturbed or stressed out by the sudden changes.
This quality becomes essential when you don’t have experience with start-ups yourself. Imagine there’s no one to explain the peculiarities of start-up software development to this process. No one tells him about the discovery phase, being flexible, MVP and the communication with the investors and stakeholders. Sure, you can always read a bunch of stuff on the Internet, watching YouTube videos or reading start-up articles. And it is certainly worth it but nothing will substitute for the hands-on experience of a professional tech executive. Swimming and watching swimmers talk about swimming are two completely different things.
Everyone in the start-up team needs the ability to tackle stress However, the higher managers, especially CTO, should have nerves of steel to keep the team’s morale high and get through the start-up project’s “death valley”. Death Valley can seem like quite a strong phrase for a software development project, but sometimes, the pressure you feel during the process is tremendous.
The CTO is the glue that holds developers together. The ability to build trust relationships with the team is the foundation of a tech executive’s leadership. A person without advanced communication skills won’t be able to explain ideas, set the productive atmosphere in the working environment, and motivate the team.
Besides, a start-up’s CTO is likely to participate in the pitching and negotiations with investors. In this case, technical officers should talk about tech concepts in simple words. This is crucial for your investors to understand what you are going to create exactly, what’s special about it, and how the product will generate profits. Above all, a CTO needs to be persuasive enough to inspire trust in your business partners.
Where to look for a start-up CTO
Start-up and tech conferences
Start-up events are the places where you can find a CTO with the start-up project management experience. At such events you can meet not just another manager but a like-minded partner that will truly believe in your idea. This person can hear you pitching your idea and want to participate.
Alternatively, you can ask the entrepreneurs you meet if they can recommend a certain person or start-up software development company that helped them when they started their business.
Professional social media & forums
The most intuitive and trusted way to find the needed professionals is to search for them on LinkedIn. Create your company’s profile, describe your project, offer something that will catch their attention, and search for the specialist you need.
Fair to say that LinkedIn is not the only place to look for a tech partner. Among other websites, you can look up at the CoFoundersLab, Indie Hackers, co-founder special subreddits or threads on Discord. In addition, you can check some major freelance platforms like Freelancer.com. There are decent chances to meet the right partner there.
Alternatives for a CTO
Outsourcing development company
Outsourcing tech companies that provide full-scale software development take charge of the whole development part themselves. They have the developers, QAs, BAs, project managers and a CTO, so you won’t need to conduct the hiring campaign and build your own development team.
However, they must have experience working with start-ups and be even quite a pro at it. Otherwise, it can lead to confusion and misunderstanding during the project delivery process.
Frankly, this is the easiest way to organize your start-up application development process - hassle-free and less time-consuming. You delegate all the tech tasks to the company and make adjustments to the product requirements if needed. But to make your product development process really smooth, you should find a trusted start-up company that won’t let you down and is on the same page with you.
The only con of hiring a start-up development company (when you’ve found the one you can trust and are on the same page with) is the price. At the same time, the money you can spend on fixing bugs and restructuring the app can easily exceed professional dedicated team costs.
This is the budget option. Generally, a CTO-as-a-Service or a tech consultant works when you aren’t going to develop sophisticated software. However, if you have a development team, supposedly your pals, and just need an experienced start-up consultant this is the most suitable option for you.
You can hire a technical consultant on freelance platforms and other professional websites we mentioned earlier. At the same time, some software development companies offer the services of some of their most experienced developers.
Hire your CTO in Akveo
You can start your search for a perfect CTO here. The Akveo team has 6 years of software development experience and has worked with start-up projects from various industries. We even have our own start-up project - UI Bakery. Above that, we have several great open-sources - NgX-Admin, Nebular, UI Kitten, recognized and highly appreciated by the global development community. These products help us reduce time-to-market and create an easily maintainable software architecture.
But enough words! Meet our CTO, Eugene Lupanov. He has more than 10 years of hands-on development and tech project management experience.
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