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How to hire a CTO?

Jean-François Arnaud
Jean-François ArnaudCEO of Blacksmith

How do I find a CTO partner for my startup?

This is a question that haunts the nights of many creators of startups and digital companies: how to find a CTO for my startup?!

Many company founders are struggling to recruit their first "tech" talent who will manage the company's developments.

Except that... the term CTO can be confusing, since writing code is generally not (or very little) part of a CTO's mission!

But besides, how can I have my website or mobile application developed? What tech skills are really needed to get started?

This is what we will try to answer in this article.

How do I find a CTO partner for my startup?

What are the duties of a CTO?

The CTO (Chief Technical Officer) of a company is the person who carries the technological vision of this company and who is responsible for its Information System (IS).

She must also have a professional and business vision of the company where she works and, being at the head of the company's development teams, she must have good management skills.

In a well-developed company, the daily life of a CTO is therefore more composed of tasks such as:

  • management of IT projects

  • carrying out technological monitoring

  • IT project costing

  • the establishment of coding standards

  • proofreading of technical tests and code (pull request)

than pure coding.

The CTO has more of a role of director, manager or even technical referent than coder.

A startup composed of a commercial profile and a creative profile (for example a UX / UI Designer) does not a priori need a CTO to create its e-commerce site...

How to create an IT Start-up?

After meeting many entrepreneurs, we were able to realize that their needs are not always well defined.

Some business leaders think they need a particular technical solution without being well informed about the different solutions available to them and the differences in cost and time to implement these solutions.

For example :

  • if we want a mobile application so that the employees of a company have access to the employee space of their company's website from a telephone, then why not offer a Progressive Web App displaying this employee space in a responsive version?

  • if you simply want to present your services on the internet, perhaps a simple showcase site in one pager would suffice, and a mobile application on Android and iOS is not necessary for this need.

In these cases, we would therefore have the possibility of choosing to work with a fullstack developer, a no-coder or even a web development agency like Blacksmith, rather than recruiting a Kotlin developer to create a native Android app and a developer Swift to develop a native iOS app.

What is paid CTO?

It depends !

The salary of the CTO can depend on the advancement and size of your company, the experience of the CTO, their responsibilities or even their location (for example, a CTO domiciled in California can easily cost 4 to 8 times more expensive than a CTO located in France).

If you recruit a CTO as a "first employee" or co-founder, it is the same logic as for the salary of a company manager: the CEO of a startup of 2 people created 6 months ago and generating no profits should logically not be paid like the CEO of a CAC 40 company.

Keep in mind that like all management positions ("C-Levels"), it is important to interest a CTO in the capital of the company in which he works, even more so when the CTO is present at the creation of the company. company or if he joins it in the first months/years.

If you cannot offer compensation to the CTO because you are getting started, it will be up to you to convince him to join you and show him that the shares of capital that you are going to sell to him as well as the entrepreneurial adventure that he is offering you, will be able to represent more than what he could claim on the labor market.

If the person you're talking to has a very "mercenary" profile and is thinking short-term, it might not work, but if they're looking for something different and wanting to try an adventure, then maybe it can. work :)

If you are in this situation, there are many sites, meetups and facebook groups on this theme "ceo seeks cto" or "adopt a cto".

What is paid CTO?

The CTO As A Service or part-time cto and startup studios

Following the shortage of CTOs in the market, several alternative solutions have emerged, including:

  • "Tech Angels" or "Startup Studios" who offer development services in "IT for equity".

    The concept is simple, if your company is selected by the studio, its teams of digital experts will create for you the MVP of your product against capital from your company and potentially a financial supplement to be paid. The interest: no need to immediately pay the high price for a development team, it will be paid on the dividends of your company or when reselling the shares it has acquired

  • CTOs As A Service, part-time CTOs or interim CTOs: these experts offer their CTO skills on a freelance basis or via umbrella companies.

    You can thus have a CTO for specific missions or at a determined frequency (for example 2 days a week).

    This can be ideal for validating the technical feasibility of a project, deciding on the tech stack to put in place or monitoring the quality of code and the developments of technical projects carried out by a web agency. This can be a good solution to move forward and not be stuck while you try to recruit THE pearl who will join your company as CTO.

We work very regularly with CTOs As A Service, so do not hesitate to write to us at if you would like to be put in touch with these professionals!

BONUS: How to create my website without tech background?

We saw it a little above: to create your website you don't need a CTO... you don't even need tech background!

If you want a very simple showcase site without having a high level of customization, you can opt for a site based on a theme, as offered by the Wordpress CMS with its "theme builders" such as Divi or Elementor.

If you want to have a showcase site that is based on custom models and you are ok with not owning the site and paying a subscription to benefit from it, you can choose to go with a no- code or low code such as Webflow.

Webflow offers themes, but also allows you to integrate models created to measure for your company.

This is a solution that we regularly offer to our customers who do not want a site made in Wordpress or who do not have the budget (or the time) to have a site developed in "full custom".

Note that if Webflow is very permissive (much more than Wordpress themes!), it does not allow you to go as far in customization as through custom development in custom code.

It is important to be aware of this before choosing this solution.

If you want the best for your showcase site and you are ready to put the means into it, you can choose to go on a custom-developed site.

In this case, we advise you to entrust the Artistic Direction of the site to a design studio like Blacksmith.

Our Head of Design can design the models (and wireframes if necessary) of your website for you, for desktop, tablet and mobile formats.

Once the models have been designed, they will be integrated by professional integrators, then, if you wish to manage the content of the site via a backoffice (for example thanks to the Headless CMS Strapi), dynamized.

Finally, if the company cannot afford the services of professionals and you do not have time to learn web development, it is also possible to train online in no-code solutions. such as Webflow, Shopify or on CMS such as Wordpress, which allow you to have an online presence without knowing how to code thanks to its pre-made themes.

Need a great web development agency to create the website of your dreams?

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