How to Find CTO for Your Startup in 2021


In today’s realities, the success and financial well-being of a business depend on how quickly the business adopts new technologies. Сutting-edge technologies help to stay ahead of the competition. But who can help a business choose the right technologies and quickly implement them into workflows?

To control technology implementation, there is a separate person in the company – the Chief Technical Officer or simply CTO. In this article, we’ll reveal who exactly CTO is, main roles and responsibilities, and how to hire CTO for your startup. Without further ado, let’s get started.

Types of CTOs

Startups have a choice between three types of CTOs:

  • Technical lead. This type is basically a senior developer because he is responsible for the development team management and the whole development process.
  • Operational lead. This person deals with various business aspects, such as choosing a management strategy and managing the development team’s development efforts.
  • Product owner. The owner can also act as a CTO. With a clear vision of the startup and the market concept, they can get their message across to the development team.

Now let’s take a closer look at the entire area of responsibility, the main skills and qualities of a CTO for a startup.

Responsibilities, Skills, and Traits of CTO

As a startup owner, you need to know what qualities a CTO should have to benefit your business. Since Technical Lead CTOs are quite common in startups, we will look at responsibilities and skills using their example.

Main Responsibilities

Chief Technical OfficerCreating MVP

One of the main responsibilities of the CTO is creating a Minimal Viable Product or simply MVP. The CTO can choose the technologies on which the future product will be based, control the development team, and oversee the creation process. If the team lacks certain specialists, the CTO can temporarily act as a developer.

Hiring, onboarding, and staff management

Recruiting new developers for a team is a rather complicated process, and without proper knowledge, it will be challenging to recruit the right specialists. The main task of the CTO is to manage the hiring, onboarding, and mentoring process. This helps to fill the staff gaps with qualified personnel much faster.

Quality Assurance

It is a rare case when startups have at least one Quality Assurance engineer at the very beginning. In the early stages of a startup’s life, the QA role is played by a CTO. CTO in charge of product testing and bug reports for developers.

Architecture updates

The path to startup success is always through improvements and updates. After the release, it may turn out that the project’s overall architecture needs to be updated. The CTO is responsible for finalizing the architecture of the project after release.

Skills and Traits

Each CTO must have the following qualities to fulfill their responsibilities accurately.

  • Over-the-top experience with cutting-edge technologies. CTO is responsible for vital tech decisions, so knowledge and experience with existing technologies are a must.
  • Programming and QA skills. A CTO in a startup can play the role of a developer and a tester, so coding and QA knowledge is a must.
  • Project and team management skills. To organize an effective development process and meet the specified deadlines, the CTO must have high management skills.
  • Communication and leadership skills. High communication and leadership skills are always helpful in organizing the work process. They make it much easier to deliver the right vision to the development team.

Besides skills, these traits will also come in handy for a startup CTO:

  • Thirst for knowledge
  • Perfectionism
  • Passion
  • Creativity
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The Value of CTO on Different Startup Stages

A wide range of skills allows CTO to replace missing employees and bring value to a startup at any stage of its life. We will briefly review each stage of a startup and tell you what benefits a CTO can bring.

Ideation Stage

A flight of imagination accompanies this stage, and on this stage idea of a startup is born. At this stage, the CTO can validate the whole idea’s technical feasibility and come up with the right tech stack to breathe life in it.

Startup Development

After the idea got its right to life, it is time to turn it into code lines. At this stage, the CTO may be the only developer in the startup team who will develop features, check them for bugs, and fix them. Even if the CTO manages an existing development team, the main goal will always be to develop the MVP as soon as possible.

Market-Fit Stage

The MVP version of the product is released. Now it’s time to systematically expand the existing functionality and implementation of new features that improve the overall user experience. During this phase, the CTO is in charge of setting up a productive development workflow.

Growth Stage

This stage for a startup is always a huge event. The main source of income has already been established, and now the most important task is to bypass competitors and stay on the market. At this stage, the CTO is fully engaged in the management of development teams and must also closely monitor trends and new technologies to introduce them to a startup in time.

Where to Find CTO for a Startup?

Startup owners have three paths to hire CTOs:

  • Freelance. This option is relatively cheap and does not limit you in your choice. CTOs can be hired from any country, but be advised that freelancers are not so well suited for long-term business relationships, and no one can guarantee that the CTO will not abandon your project one day for another, a more profitable one.
  • In-house. This option is suitable if you already have a startup that generates constant income and wants to expand it. You put together your own development team, hire a CTO, rent an office, and start working on a startup. With this approach, you will not experience communication problems but get ready for serious expenses. The office rent, its equipment with everything necessary for work, and the wages to each employee can seriously hit the budget. 
  • Outsourcing. This option combines good reliability and a nice price tag for services. Outsourcing companies are already staffed with high-level specialists so that you do not have to waste valuable time on a long search. Besides, all borders are open to you, and you can apply to a company from any region of the world. The only minor minus is the possible communication difficulties due to the large distance between you and the company.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, the CTO is quite an important figure in the life of any startup. And if you now have an idea for starting a startup, you should first start looking for a good CTO, as thanks to this specialist, your chances of success will significantly increase.


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