Why is it so hard to find a CTO for your Startup?

Hiring CTO Challenges DoganTech

Working closely with startups and entrepreneurs over the years, we’ve noticed a common theme. Finding a good Chief Technology Officer (CTO) or Technical Cofounder can be almost impossible for pre-seed stage startups. You need somebody with hands-on experience developing a scalable product, who can oversee all your Information Technology needs, be responsible for integrating business requirements into IT planning and operations, and all within a restricted budget. In this article, we’ll discuss three reasons it can be so hard to find a CTO, and we’ll offer you our solutions.


1. Talent: finding the right CTO

The skillset required to make a top-tier Technical Cofounder is niche. Your CTO needs to have hands-on experience developing a scalable product, technical know-how, business acumen and an entrepreneurial spirit, as well as a closely aligned interest in the particular area your startup specialises in. For a Non-technical Cofounder or Founder, it’s hard to assess the technical capabilities of a CTO, whose skillset is so specialised. Exactly the right combination of skill and passion can be hard to find, and that’s without even taking into account cultural fit. Resources are very scarce, and even more so if you don’t know where to look.

2. Budget: negotiating a salary and equity

Budget can be a big hurdle to overcome, particularly if you are in the pre-seed stages of your startup. Because of their scarcity and their specialist skillset, IT professionals are used to earning higher salaries than their peers. Not only this, but you are looking to hire a CTO with experience in product development, the vision to scale your IT team and operations, wide-ranging technical know-how, and with the leadership skills needed to make important decisions for your business.

You can consider offering an equity-only position, but you will find that the pool of eligible candidates is much smaller because most qualified candidates will already be earning a high salary and unwilling to take such a risk. If you take this route, your aim should be to split shares equally between all cofounders, offering no less than 30% to your CTO. A combination of salary with equity is also an option, but this can be a tough sell if the salary is still lower than the market, and you’ll have a hard job persuading your candidate to accept.

3. Retention: keeping hold of a good CTO

The final challenge faced by a lot of startups is that of retaining a good CTO, particularly during periods when business is quiet. If you do manage to find the right talent and the right salary, there is still the reality that any startup will face a fluctuation in workflow. Though there may be a crunch time when you need everybody to be working flat out, there will also be lengthy quieter periods. Not only do these fluctuations put a strain on your budget, but if your business appears to be struggling, your CTO might be tempted to jump ship and take advantage of the next opportunity with a different business. The reality is that CTOs won’t want to waste their time on a struggling businesses and are much more likely to leave than to stick around and wait for things to improve.

Solutions and Alternatives

So, these are the challenges. Let’s take a look at some solutions.

1. Finding Talent: work with a consultant

If you are overwhelmed by the apparent lack of appropriate candidates in your recruitment process, then a good option is to consider working with a consultant. DoganTech offers consulting services to help you find a Technical Cofounder at an affordable price. Our specialist consultants will advise, help you refine your search, run technical assessments for potential candidates, and match you to the right Cofounder.

2. Budget: CTO as a Service / Fractional CTO

Matching your budget with the demands of the market can be struggle. One solution we recommend is working with a CTO as a Service. This is an excellent option for startups who are ready to scale their businesses but who aren’t yet in a position to hire a full-time CTO. DoganTech offers CTO as a Service, who will work with you externally and provide the specialist experience and knowledge you need.

3. Retaining a CTO: outsource your Software Development

One way of overcoming the pressures of retaining a CTO is to fully outsource your software development to an agency. DoganTech offers a full-service taking care of your software development, all of your IT operations, developing your Minimum Viable Product and scaling your product with specialist expertise. Outsourcing your software development is one reliable way of eliminating the need for an in-house CTO, and overcoming the difficulty of retaining a CTO while your business develops and grows.

Get In Touch

Recruiting a good CTO or Technical Cofounder is a struggle many startups face. But remember, you don’t always have to take the conventional route, and there are plenty of innovative paths you can take to overcome these challenges and grow your business. Get in touch today, we’re here to help and offer you our expert advice.

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