How To Hire a CTO For A Startup?

How To Hire a CTO For A Startup?

What Does a CTO Do?

The chief technology officer (CTO) is responsible for the technology vision and direction of a company. They work with the CEO to make sure that the company’s technology is aligned with its business goals. The CTO is also responsible for the research and development of new products and technologies.

The CTO position is a relatively new one, and the role can vary from company to company. In some cases, the CTO is responsible for all of the company’s technology, from the software that powers the website to the hardware that keeps the servers running. In other cases, the CTO may be more focused on product development, working with the engineering team to bring new products to market.

No matter what the specific responsibilities are, the CTO is always responsible for ensuring that the company’s technology is up to date and able to meet the demands of the business. This can be a challenging role, as technology is always changing and evolving.

A CTO (or Chief Technology Officer) can lead to success or disaster. Both startups and large corporations should take their time when selecting the right employee. However, startups face the challenge of not only finding someone good, but also of finding a great CTO who is willing to work with them.

Planning of Product’s Architecture

The architecture in the product is similar to a skeleton that will be layered over time. A software product typically has a user side, a developer side, and a business side. The final one ensures that the other two are well-connected and work well together. A product will never function properly if its architecture is not well thought out. Architecture is typically created by the CTO. The more complex the IT product, the greater the effort put into architecture planning.

Creating Tech Strategy

The scope of budget planning, responsibilities, goals, and so on is referred to as technology strategy. It aids in better understanding of the company’s goals and the resources required to achieve them. The CTO is the person in charge of developing such a strategy. They also ensure that owners, investors, and team leaders are aware of and understand the strategy.

Creating the Roadmap

A roadmap is a more specific version of a technology strategy. It includes not only what you hope to achieve, but also how you intend to achieve it. A roadmap includes a timeline and tasks that will help with organization, communication, monitoring, and delivery. Developers can begin working on the product only after the roadmap has been created and shared.

Researching the Market Trends

CTOs must always stay current in order to make the most efficient decisions. They are the ones who know which technology will become obsolete soon and should be avoided. They are knowledgeable about industry trends and user requirements. If they don’t do their homework, they’ll end up with solutions that are bad for business and will cost thousands or millions of dollars to fix.

Managing Tech Team

A CTO should foster or support collaboration, common purpose, and team spirit, as well as ensure that the roadmap is followed and that work is optimized as needed. They are also in charge of evaluating team members’ work, guiding them as needed, and reporting progress to the CEO and stakeholders.

Why Does Your Startup Needs a CTO and Why It is Hard to Find One?

CTOs are individuals who are concerned with more than just the creation of a product and the management of tasks. They examine the work from a business standpoint, attempting to optimize tasks and teams in the most efficient manner. They understand which features are absolutely necessary and which will cost a lot of money but bring no revenue.

They are more involved in the development process, discussions, and process control than CEOs. They will be able to tell if developers are slacking or doing a poor job. They are also quicker to identify and resolve major or minor issues with the product.

Finally, they are leaders who can assemble a dedicated and passionate team.

However, it is difficult for startups to find a good CTO. Hiring full-stack developers will seem trivial in comparison to hiring a CTO. It takes a long time, and owners may never find the right candidate. Why is this the case?

High Salaries

CTOs are unicorns who understand both technology and entrepreneurship. Their responsibilities are extensive and critical to success. Their decisions can either propel you to success or derail the project completely. Furthermore, if you want to succeed as a CTO, you must have extensive experience working with technology and business, as well as knowledge that is always up to date. As such professionals are undoubtedly in high demand, the national average salary for a CTO in the United States is $165,182. Startups typically have limited resources and cannot afford to hire a CTO.

Trust Issues

A CTO will be intimately familiar with your company and its products, as well as every investor and team member. As a result, startups are wary and cautious when it comes to hiring a CTO. They spend time not only assessing the skills of the future CTO, but also their trustworthiness.

Right Personality

It is difficult and very expensive to change CTOs midways. Therefore, startups try to find a person who fits well in the team, is unlikely to drop out of the project soon, and is a match to a CEO and stakeholders. It is a person who owners and teams will spend a lot of time with so it better be pleasant to work together.

Few Professionals

A CTO is a very responsible position, and not many people are willing to take it on. For example, because of the high business and extra skills required, such as entrepreneurship, leadership, organization, and communication, few developers want to become CTOs. As a result, there aren’t many CTOs out there.

You will almost certainly come across a CTO who offers to manage your project in their spare time. It is impossible, based on our experience and that of our clients. The first year of development necessitates a lot of dedication and 10-12 hours of work per day. No CTO on the planet has this much free time, especially if they have a family.

Lack of Interest in Startups

Startups do not have much to offer at first, and you never know whether your efforts will be rewarded. As a result, many CTOs prefer to work in established companies where they have a variety of opportunities. Large corporations always pay more and provide more benefits.

How to Find the Right CTO for a Startup?

So we’ve established what a CTO is, what they do, and why finding the right one is so difficult. This section will focus on how to find the right person for your startup in a more effective, accurate, and successful manner.

Do Not Find One, Earn One!

CTOs are more likely to implement their ideas in well-established companies with a consistent income. As a result, it is not enough to simply find a good CTO; you must also fight for them (not literally, luckily). Because you are a start-up, you cannot offer benefits or salaries, so you must find other ways to entice them.

The key is to draw them in with your actions. Tell them about the exciting challenges they will face, what they can learn, and the problems they will face. It is even better if you are working with future technologies.

It is also critical to adhere to logic rather than emotions. You must persuade a CTO that your startup has a future and that things will get done. Instead of one big idea with unclear boundaries, show numbers and ready plans.

Set Clear Requirements

If you have specific requirements for your ideal CTO, it significantly reduces the number of candidates. You will spend less time reviewing CVs that have nothing to do with your vision and will not have to speak with people who lack the necessary qualifications to work in your field. You will also save candidates’ time.

Begin with technical abilities. Define the product: is it a website, a mobile app, VR, Big Data, or something else? Based on that, identify and list all types of technology that could be used in the project. Make sure to include your industry in the requirements, as industry-specific CTOs are more likely to provide more informed solutions. They will be more familiar with the features, design, and technology used in the industry, allowing them to onboard and find solutions more quickly. A person with no experience building eCommerce marketplaces, for example, will not know how to organize navigation, collaboration, and payment options.

Remember to include personality traits in your list. As previously stated, CTOs collaborate extensively with teams, owners, and investors. It makes sense to look for someone who is both pleasant to work with and who can best organize teams and communication. Because it is the person’s responsibility to keep their knowledge up to date, it makes sense to look for someone who is eager to learn.

Some of the most searched skills in CTO are:

  • quick learner
  • passionate about research
  • big picture thinker with business acumen
  • great leader
  • good coach/mentor
  • independent decision-maker
  • great communicator
  • persistent
  • creative
  • ready to take risks

Try Purpose-Based Recruiting

It is critical to consider not only a person’s skills and experience, but also how they fit into the company’s purpose and business goals. Make sure to inquire about the candidates’ goals and purposes to see if they align.

If the goals are not aligned, there is a good chance that major misunderstandings will arise later. A person working toward multiple goals will seek out different solutions and tactics, and their priorities will differ. In the worst-case scenario, it may cause work disruption, significant delays, or even disintegration. Even if you force them to work for you, they will eventually burn out and abandon the project.

Where to Find a CTO?

A good CTO cannot be found among CEOs, business owners, or managers; they are more likely to be involved in the tech community. After all, it is where they obtain the majority of their expertise and knowledge of new trends.

So, where is the tech community?

Tech Events

Hackathons, conferences, and meetups are the best places to meet CTOs. There is no need to schedule an interview if you want to assess their personal characteristics as soon as possible. You can fully see their social skills based on your discussions with them, how they treat other people in the community, and participation in lectures or workshops. You may learn more about their interests and expertise if they participate in the event as speakers or actively participate in the discussion.

It’s also a great way to meet potential passive candidates! Given that the majority of tech candidates, particularly top-tier candidates, are passive, it makes sense to go out there and find people the old-fashioned way.

Tech Recruitment Platforms

Technology professionals rarely use universal recruitment platforms. Fortunately, there are many that are tech-specific. You can post to various job boards to attract as many interested and passionate candidates as possible. It will even enable you to outsource and access a larger talent pool. However, having clear requirements is critical because having too many candidates will result in endless suffering.

Relevant Online Platforms  

CTOs are likely to frequent subreddits, Discord channels, and Slack channels. Joining communities on these apps allows you to find CTOs who share your company’s interests, learn more about their expertise and skills, discover their logic patterns, and how they treat people on the platform.

Alternative Ways Of Filling CTO’s Position

Do you still have trouble finding the right person, or is your budget too limited? Fortunately, there are other options for filling the position.

Be a CEO and CTO

You don’t need to waste time and money on recruiting someone if the project isn’t particularly high-tech. In fact, CTOs are less likely to join the startup because the project is not difficult enough to warrant intervention.

It may be difficult to accomplish and will necessitate consultations and research on your part. It does, however, have some advantages. You won’t have to spend time sharing everything with your CTO, you won’t have to deal with trust issues and NDAs, and you’ll learn more about your product or technology decisions.


Consider outsourcing if the project is high-tech, the budget is tight, and you cannot fill two positions at the same time. It has a number of advantages for startups: you get a much larger talent pool, salaries in many places are significantly lower than in the US or Europe, and you don’t have to worry about benefits because outsourced CTOs do not require them. Hiring remote developers allows you to reduce your budget even further.

You’ll still have to figure out how to work with them remotely, as well as deal with cultural differences and other remote development rules, but it’s the best option for startups. If you are hesitant to outsource and require a CTO in close proximity, we recommend outsourcing.

Take a Look at Experienced Developers

Seniors typically develop a business mindset over time and understand how to mitigate business risks and optimize processes. As a result, you can think of them as CTOs at first.

After the initial and most technical stage, you can delegate to someone less technically savvy. After a while, the role of a CTO becomes more managerial and does not necessitate as many technical skills. As a result, if an experienced senior does not want to commit to the project long term, you can simply offer the initial stage and let them return to coding as soon as possible.


A CTO is someone who can think in three different ways: technical, business, and team management. It is difficult for such a startup because such high-level professionals demand high salaries and prefer to work for established companies.

If you want to hire a CTO, you should focus on the exciting challenges and the certainty of your startup’s success rather than the high salary. We also recommend considering their purpose and skill set to ensure that you will be comfortable with the individual! Tech events are the best place to find CTOs.

If you are unable to hire a CTO, you should consider other options such as fulfilling both roles, outsourcing, or inviting an experienced senior to fill the role early on.

Do you want to hire a CTO while putting in as little effort as possible to find the right fit? Do you need someone you can rely on? Please do not hesitate to contact Nile Bits! We will assist you in finding the ideal candidate for the position or provide you with an outsourced team of developers to further reduce costs.

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