How to Outsource a CTO?
It’s not a secret that great startups are created by creative visionaries who come up with fresh ideas on solving specific problems of their customers. Yet, it’s not only about the idea but also about the Digital Product, which solves this problem, right?.
Moreover, there’s always a confident tech pro’ who covers the back of such an enthusiast. Think of Steve Wozniak behind Steve Jobs or Werner Vogels behind Jeff Bezos. And since you’re reading this article, you probably miss your own Steve Wozniak right now, don’t you?
As a non-programmer, you may lack some experience that is crucial to launch a successful Product: for instance, how to pick up the right tech stack to build a scalable MVP that meets your budget & roadmap or how to structure the Scrum Development team in the best way. The experience, that CTOs have.
However, it doesn’t mean that you should abandon your Product if there’s no CTO in your team.
With the CTO Outsourcing services, you can find a tech expert in any corner of the world, at any budget and with any kind of experience relevant for your project.
Actually, an Outsourced CTO is a perfect interim solution that will cover all your needs before you managed to hire a Rockstar-CTO for your core team. Looks like your case? The more is coming.
🤔 When CTO Outsourcing Is Relevant to Your Startup?
When surfing through the Internet you may find different opinions regarding Outsourced CTO Services. While some are totally against the idea, others say that you may never need an In-House CTO if you hire an appropriate remote person.
We at Stormotion believe, that in the long-term perspective your Startup will definitely need an internal CTO who will be fully committed to the project.
However, finding a good specialist to become a part of your Product Development Family is a tricky task that does not tolerate haste. Why? Because if you don’t have a technical Co-Founder with an entrepreneurial mindset, who really believes in your idea, it’s quite difficult to convince him of your idea/product prior to securing some funding.
On the other hand, an Outsourced CTO will start achieving steps in your Roadmap for your company right away, during the early stages and while you’re looking for an In-House Partner.
With all of the above in mind, you’ll definitely benefit by CTO Outsourcing (it’s also known as CTO-as-a-service) in the following cases:
|💡 Idea Stage||In case you don’t have a technical Co-Founder in the team, the benefit is quite obvious — the interim CTO will help you to define the tech-stack for the MVP of your Digital Product. He will also help to build the product team to develop it.|
|💸 Angel Funding Stage||At this stage investors usually don’t ask yet for a CTO in the core team. So if you’ve already received your Angel funding and are searching for a CTO, you can hire an outsourced CTO that will meanwhile help to build the product, set up good Agile ceremonies in the team and generally build up your Software Development Lifecycle. But you should already be looking for a CTO in-house.|
|💰 Seed Funding Stage||You have a product, even some first paying customers and need to further improve the platform. The interim CTO will help you to iterate your product and hand over the processes to your new in-house CTO, once you found him.|
A good start is half the battle, they say. Having a skillful and experienced CTO during the early stages increases your chances to win this battle and set up the SDLC (software development lifecycle) and Agile-ceremonies within the Scrum-Team in an effective and appropriate way from the very beginning .
What are the other benefits of having an Outsourced CTO in a Software Company? Here they are!
👍 Top 5 Reasons Why an Outsourced CTO will Help your Startup Grow
First, an Outsourced CTO will pick up tools for the Tech Stack that match your Product requirements and funding in such a way that you’ll get a Scalable MVP ready for the market and not just a dummy-PoC.
Second, the same MVP can be then presented to Investors. Having some ready-to-use product, even quite simple, will help you get funding for marketing and further expansion of your Tech-Team.
Third, since you have all the tech tasks assigned to the interim guy, you can fully concentrate on finding an In-House CTO, who mostly matches your Startup. No need to hurry up and hire an unremarkable candidate just because you need to fill the spot as fast as possible.
Fourth, an interim CTO can set up the right workflow and ceremonies in your Agile-Team without your involvement so you can focus on Fundraising, PR, Customer Acquisition and other activities that are crucial for Early-Stage Startups.
Fifth, he can help you build a passionate, aimed at the result Product Team by conducting interviews with potential candidates, making code reviews, onboarding new employees, performing Scrum Mastering etc.
But how to find & hire an outsourced CTO that will be able to deliver mentioned benefits to your Startup? Check our recommendations in the next paragraph.
📋 How to Outsource a CTO: a Step-by-Step Instruction
It seems that the CTO-as-a-service concept becomes more and more popular among young Digital Startups. However, the flow to Outsource a CTO still doesn’t seem to be as clear as for hiring a new developer. Let us share a few friendly recommendations that will make the whole process more predictable, manageable and straightforward.
Step 1: Where to look for an interim CTO? 🔎
There are several options to choose from when you’re in need of a Remote Tech Guru. Here they are:
# 1: Get the most out of your industry connections
If you aren’t new to the Startup Community and have some CTOs or Developers from other companies as friends, you may ask them for help.
Despite it shouldn’t cost you much, don’t forget that they are already busy with their own Projects. Therefore, don’t expect them to be fully focused on your Startup and ready to spend more than a few hours a day to assist you. Actually, you’ll get a friendly advisor rather than a dedicated CTO.
# 2: LinkedIn
We all know what LinkedIn is — a massive social network for professionals. This means it provides you with broad possibilities to Outsource a CTO. How?
Well, you can simply conduct a search using the “Interim CTO” or “Freelance CTO” queries. You’ll probably find a few candidates who already had some interim CTO experience that’s relevant to your Project as well.
However, being a freelancer means working on several projects at the same time. This may lead to the situation when your Outsourced CTO isn’t engaged with your startup as you’d like him to.
# 3: CTO Outsourcing companies
You may be surprised but there are particular companies that specialize in CTO Outsourcing.
At first, they may seem like a perfect option since they have enough experience in providing CTO-as-a-service solutions. This means that they should have proven workflows to ensure the smooth cooperation with the client. However, we at Stormotion have some objections.
- Since it’s quite a usual kind of work for them, your Startup isn’t going to be special so you may feel a lack of enthusiasm and no passion — just a desire to make money and switch to another project.
- They don’t have a Tech-Team, which can really build the product. Which leads us to the next point.
- If a company provides only CTO Outsourcing services but has no real experience in delivering successful scalable Products on their own, how likely are you to hire advisers instead of doers?
# 4: A Product Development Agency with proven Record
Finally, the last (and, actually, the most reasonable) option is to find a partner represented by a Mobile/Web Development Agency. The pros and cons of this solution are the following:
- You’ll find a Rockstar Scrum Team which has solid experience in delivering Scalable Digital Products and knows how the development Lifecycle should look like from the inside.
- As a rule of thumb, Agencies unite many experts in different fields (for example, Native or Cross-Platform Development, Payment methods integration, Push Notifications Services implementation etc.). Since they know a lot of alternative technologies and approaches to choose from, they will pick up the Tech Stack that really suits your Project the best.
- Moreover, every good Dev Agency has its own internal Agile ceremonies and productivity tricks, so they can easily share their best practices with your future In-House Squad.
However, we’d like to remind you that all the options above should be only considered as a temporary solution to cover your needs while you’re looking for an In-House CTO for your team.
Step 2: How to understand that a candidate is a perfect match? 🤝
During your search, you are likely to come up with at least a few candidates to choose from. Eventually, you’ll have to define who suits your project better than others. What is the best way to do this? Hold an interview.
From our experience, we’d recommend you to split your Job Interview into 2 parts: technical and product ones.
The main aim of the Technical Part is to understand whether the previous development experience of the candidate will be useful to your software startup. Possible questions at this stage are:
- What Projects have you worked on?
- Have you ever delivered similar Projects?
- In what fields do you have the most experience? This may be Native/React Native development, Augmented Reality, wearables integration etc.
- How your experience can be useful to our Startup?
- How are you going to set up a smooth workflow within the Dev Team? Notice: we at Stormotion use a particular set of Agile ceremonies that help us stay productive, so your candidate should keep the same strategy in mind, too.
The second part of the interview — the Product Part — is even more important, in a sense, than the tech one. How can even the best Development Guru be useful to you if he doesn’t get your product and can’t effectively apply his knowledge in practice? We both know the answer.
Therefore, you also should ask a candidate for an Outsourced CTO position the following questions (to check that he understands your mission):
- Who is the Target Audience of our Product?
- What is the pain of our TA and how is our Product going to resolve it?
- What type of Product would users prefer: a mobile app, a website, or they’re going to switch between both options from time to time?
- How do you see an MVP of our Startup? What should it include?
- What should be our priority tasks right now? Regarding the Product Development, of course.
Of course, a tech-guy shouldn’t answer them, like you as CPO or CEO do. But at the end of the day, by asking those you’ll clearly see if the candidate is inspired by your mission and suits the position of an Outsourced CTO in your Software Company the best.
Pro’ tip: don’t forget to attach an NDA to your offer. This document will keep your secrets safe during and after your cooperation with an interim CTO.
Step 3: Set up a smooth communication flow 💬
Unlike an In-House CTO, your Outsourced CTO will probably work with you remotely. However, all the downsides of the remote cooperation can be easily neglected by setting up a correct communication system.
As the Team which used to join up our clients remotely, we often have to get the maximum of contacting with our clients from other parts of Europe and the World.
Today it became easier than ever thanks to the specific software that we use:
- Slack — to manage communication within the team;
- Skype or Hangouts — to report to our clients; P.S. Skype sucks, so better use Hangouts ;)
- Trello, Jira — to establish a transparent and clear task management process.
As an early-stage Startup, you probably feel the lack of a strong technical leader in your team. After all, a CTO role is more about coming up with development ideas, supervising and structuring software teams rather than writing code.
CTO Outsourcing provides you with a temporary solution to cover your needs until you find a perfect In-House Tech Guru. A proper specialist can help you build the backbone of your company from the tech perspective and head the development in the right direction.
If you’ve checked some of our articles & projects and want Stormotion to play the CTO-role in your startup - just hit the button below. We’ll be happy to be your Partner and build your Digital Product together with you!