While many successful companies are launched by individuals without a technical or engineering background, knowing when to hire a CTO and an internal software development and engineering team is an important part of your company's growth.
Building the right team at the right time and stage in a company's growth can make or break its success and ability to scale, especially for a startup.
While many successful companies are launched without a co-founder with a technical or engineering background, knowing when to hire a chief technology officer (CTO) and an internal software development and engineering team is an important part of your company's growth.
Why (and when) to hire a consulting CTO
Consulting CTOs can provide the technical expertise and management experience to custom software development companies that help early-stage startups meet their strategic goals. So when might it make sense to bring on a consulting CTO?
Some of the factors to consider in your decision and hiring timeline include:
- You are an early stage startup working with an outsourced or bootstrapped software development team
- Your company does not have a technical co-founder or member of the management team
- Prohibitive costs involved with recruiting full time or long term CTO
- Finding technical and engineering talent with the right leadership skills and background to meet your goals
- Your company does not need a full-time CTO at your current stage of growth
- Your startup is facing a product launch, and you need to quickly bring on an experienced technical and engineering professional with the right management and leadership skills
- Your startup is launching a product or spearheading a project that requires a unique skillset or type of experience that your current management and development team is lacking or has limited experience or knowledge of the technology and market
- For general oversight capabilities and technical due diligence
- As a short-term resource in the early or mid stages of your startup's growth while you look for the right long-term candidate if you later decide that it makes sense to fill the position permanently
The "right" time to bring in new leadership will vary from company to company. Addressing your engineering team's current pain points against the organization's needs and plans to scale in the short and long term are a great place to start in determining when to hire outside talent.
A consulting CTO can provide the flexibility and expertise necessary to succeed in an early stage startup environment.
Qualities to look for in a CTO
In addition to flexibility, technical expertise and management experience, and relevant knowledge in your field, there are a few qualities to look for in a great CTO candidate:
- Stellar engineering background
- The right experience for your company's product line and vision for growth
- A robust professional network to leverage
- Good communication skills
- Relevant leadership skills
- A strategic thinker
- The right set of tools
As most founders and investors know, things seldom go according to plan in the startup world, especially where technology is concerned. Whether you have a small team operating on the lean startup model or are growing at a rapid pace and already have several talented engineers on your team, things can (and probably will) change at a moment's notice.
It may be difficult for you to predict when your startup will benefit from hiring a technology manager or CTO, and in many cases the answer to the question "When should we bring on a CTO?" is "yesterday." A consulting CTO can join your team quickly and is trained to work and solve problems in a startup environment.