5 reasons you don’t need a full-time CTO
You don’t need to hire a full-time CTO to build your product.
What you need is someone that will help you to plan, build and release your product and new features fast, so that you can get feedback from customers.
CTOs are generally not operational. They advise and strategize.
It’s rare in any early-stage company to have 5 days per week advising and strategizing.
Not surprisingly, it’s common to hear CTOs employed by early-stage companies feel “bored and expensive” after a few months.
It’s not good for the company.
Here are the 5 reasons why you don’t need a full-time CTO:
Time, or the lack of
Either you’re ready to start, or have already started building your product. In both scenarios, time-to-market is crucial. Every delay means opening the door for a competitor.
Hiring takes time. Hiring a full-time CTO takes lots of time.
It might take months until you find someone suitable for the role. You can’t hurry that.
What if you could invest the same amount of time in building the product, talking to customers, improving user acquisition, or building relationships with investors?
It’s not a good investment
Hiring a full-time CTO is a significant expense.
Payroll, equity, and sharing the direction of the business. In most early-stage companies, the ROI of a full-time CTO is not justified.
You can launch an outstanding product, with a fraction of the costs, without handing out any equity. It means more money to invest in sales, marketing, and equity to attract future key employees.
You don’t have a technology problem
Unless you nailed your product-market fit and it’s ready to scale, you don’t have a technology problem.
You still don’t need to support hundreds of thousands of customers. What you do need is to have a stable technology stack, able to validate new ideas quickly.
You don’t know how technology will make a difference
It’s hard to know the competitive advantages technology might bring. Even if you have the perfect business model on your hands.
Is it an AI solution? Is it heavily dependent on data science? Is it based on leading multiple engineering teams across the globe?
Hiring a full-time CTO without understanding your company's technology needs means you are limiting your future growth. You might hire someone that’s not fit for the needs your company has. Worse, you might hire someone that fails to support you in finding your company’s competitive advantage.
It’s negative to the business
Early-stage CTOs usually come from highly technical roles (Senior Developers, Lead Developers, Head of Engineering). They advanced in their careers because they were good at building code. They are not used to thinking about what’s the most important for the business.
It’s common to see early-stage CTOs spending 6 months building features, not core to the business, that are available for $30/month in a 3rd-party tool.
Areas such as Payment processing, E-commerce, CRM, Authentication, Content Management, Emails, SMS, Push notifications, A/B tests, to name a few, are commodities today.
One should avoid spending time building them, and instead, use out-of-the-shelf alternatives. It enables companies to focus on their core business, and not reinvent the wheel.
Maybe you are asking yourself: “but what’s the alternative?” I’m glad you asked.
The alternative is to:
- Hire someone that is available to start supporting you next week
- Works on technology topics when there’s demand, instead of a costly idle role.
- Helps you to build a pragmatic and cost-efficient technology stack.
- Focus on delivering value to the business and customers from day 1.
These are the characteristics of the "Fractional CTO" role.
A “Fractional CTO” is a solution for companies that need technical support on a part-time basis.
It enables companies to obtain the expertise of a CTO at a fraction of the cost of a full-time salary.
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