How to Find a CTO to Manage the Tech Side of Your Business

  • Strategy Planning
  • 9 min read
  • September 18, 2019

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Ideas are a dime a dozen, which is why you might find yourself ready to take the next step and bring your app idea to fruition by getting started on the development journey. First stop: finding a lead developer or Chief Technology (or technical) Officer to take hold of the reigns on your app’s project development. 

If you don’t have a tech background, you want a senior-level developer or technical officer who has first-hand experience in app development. So how to find a CTO, anyway? 

Let’s take a look!

how to find a cto

How to find a CTO – The Role of a CTO

A CTO is the senior executive that leads a project’s tech needs. While entrepreneurs could just hire a team of developers, having a proper CTO can make a huge difference when it comes to your app’s success, especially if your own tech knowledge and background is limited.

A quality CTO will be able to carefully evaluate the short-term and long-term needs of the project and make all of the best choices designed to help the project hit it’s milestones.

Here is a quick overview of what the role is of a CTO:

  • Examines the technical needs of a project
  • Makes investments and uses funds that will help the project reach its goals.
  • Develops strategies that can boost revenue
  • Performs return on investment and cost benefit analysis
  • Develops technical policies and procedures to aid in project milestones
  • The CTO may also oversee a project’s security, data, and overall maintenance.

Overall, a CTO is beneficial to have because they oversee the entire technical infrastructure of a project, they create business models, and simply bring a level of expertise that a standard developer-for-hire won’t.

Finding a CTO for Your App

We get it, as an entrepreneur running a business you’re busy, but it’s crucial to set aside more than just a few hours a week searching for a CTO. You should, realistically, be spending 20-25% of your time interviewing potential hires and trying to find the right candidate.

What are you looking for?

If you’re like most non-techies, you might know some buzzwords like C#, Java, or Javascript, but have no idea what these coding languages are and what you actually need for the development of your app. The truth is, there are plenty of programming languages you can use in app development, but which one should you choose for your specific project?

This is where having a CTO can come in handy—they can help steer you in the right direction when it comes to beginning your app’s development. With that said, it’s still a good idea to figure out what you need first and have a basic understanding of the technical aspect of your project before speaking to CTOs.

Do some research on the top programming languages for  app development to better gauge which one may be best suited for your specific project.

how to find a cto

Create a job description and define the role

Once you have a better idea of what you’re looking for, it’s time to determine what your picture perfect CTO will look like. What kind of skills should they possess? What should they bring to the table?

Put together a job description of your ideal candidate with these considerations in mind:

  • Look for someone who is able to pick up multiple technologies, including mobile as well as front and back end development. Choosing someone who only knows one programming language should be avoided.
  • You want someone who understands your own role as an entrepreneur and who might be familiar with the path you’re on, and have maybe walked it themselves before.
  • Find someone who seeks to learn more and not someone who thinks they already have all the answers.
  • Look for someone who actually wants to take on multiple tasks (as is common in startups) rather than someone who just wants to lead or just wants to code.
  • This person should have excellent people skills and collaborate well with other teams.
  • This person should, ideally, have a track record of quantifiable success.

Start networking

This is probably one of the most obvious ways to find a CTO, but should be mentioned anyway. Network, network, network! Start going to places and events where you’re likely to find solid tech talent, such as conferences, hackathons, meetups, and other tech events.

Even if you don’t find a plethora of CTOs here for the picking, you might find a developer or other techie who can recommend someone or even point you in the right direction.

Aside from going to events, look within your own network to see if you can find someone for the role. Oftentimes the best candidates for a job are those who aren’t even seeking it, so don’t be afraid to reach out to those in your network who you believe have the potential to be your CTO even if they aren’t actively looking.

Below are more places to find a CTO:

  • Social Media: Platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook can be great places to find candidates. You can see what communities people belong to, what they’re passionate about, and even what friends you have in common.
  • Meetup.com: If you’re having trouble finding networking events near you, try joining techie meetup groups. This will help bring you into a strong network of potential candidates. You can also try reaching out to group organizers to see if they could make a post or announcement about the CTO position.

Stack Overflow: While Stack Overflow provides a great platform to hire remote talent, you can also use the platform to find local candidates as well.

how to find a chief technology officer

Consider Senior Developers

Finding a CTO who is not only talented but is also free to join your business venture is no easy feat, and the pool of candidates may be scarce. Consider interviewing skilled senior-level developers who might fit the bill and are far easier to find.

Senior developers will have the hands-on coding skills you need, and likely have experience working with a variety of technologies, where a CTOs programming skill set may be more limited. Additionally, senior developers are often used to working with a team of lower level devs under their belt, so they can more easily fill the leadership role a CTO demands.

CTO vs. Lead Developer

It should also be said that there is a clear difference between a CTO and a lead developer. Keep in mind that CTOs traditionally don’t spend much time coding. This role is more reserved for someone who is thinking about technical problems, asking questions, and coming up with the right strategy when it comes to the technical aspects of a project.

Since your app project is like a startup, chances are all hands are on deck and everyone is doing everything. But while you’re on your search, it’s good to be aware that CTOs are known to code less, whereas a Lead Developer or VP of Engineering are also leadership positions that can contribute more hands-on coding.

finding a cto

Test Drive Your Best Candidate

Once you find someone you really like for the CTO position, don’t hesitate to try them out first. Sign them on to the project for one month of consultation work before committing to anything (such as compensation or equity–though these things should be agreed upon already).

You’ll be paying them for their work, of course, but the benefit of starting off with one month is to evaluate how well this person fits into your team, the vision and talent they’re bringing to the table, and more insights that will help you feel confident in your decision.

Bottom Line

There are all kinds of great talent out there that could potentially fit the role as CTO for your new app project—some may be coding wizards, others may be visionaries and leaders who can strategize and build a great team, some who have walked the path of an entrepreneur and some who haven’t.

The key is to get out there and talk to everyone. Get in touch with your network and branch out to others find the perfect CTO who can take the technical lead on your project and,

ultimately, make it a success.

Comments (2)

2 responses to “How to Find a CTO to Manage the Tech Side of Your Business”

  1. Shah Mohammad Polash says:

    Hi,
    Thanks for writing this in-depth review.
    In fact, I found the information I was looking for in your article. It’s really helpful.
    I have benefited from reading your article.
    Thank you very much.

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