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CTO or VP of Engineering?

I am the founder of an edtech startup and both myself and my co-founder are non-technical. We are currently in an

accelerator and are looking for a technical to become part of our founding team. Do we need a CTO or a VP of

engineering? And how do we best decide?

20 Replies

Andrew T. Madejczyk
0
0
Executive Technology Advisory
At a minimum, you need to partner with someone who can translate your requirements into both product strategy and delivery strategy. Ultimately, you'll need someone to sit in the CTO/CIO seat (title not important as function) as your company grows.
Saurabh Gupta
0
1
Saurabh Gupta Entrepreneur
Head of Business Development at Channel Growth
I would recommend you searching people on FD and contacting/following them here. Most will respond if you've a compelling pitch.

I can advice you guys on your initial concept exploration. I can also help you build your MVP if you guys have some cash. I bootstrap my start-up by helping other start-ups build their MVP.

Technical co-founder could be crucial for your stratup. I would hold off in hiring someone and giving away 33% equity until you find the right fit. With the same equity, you'll have much better prospects once you gain some traction and revenue.

Here is an excellent article someone wrote about her struggle in finding a co-founder and how she overcame the challenge.
http://melissatsang.com/2014/03/17/weeks-5-6-internal-struggles-choosing-a-potentially-viable-software-idea-and-finding-a-technical-cofounder/

Kevin Goldstein
0
0
Kevin Goldstein Advisor
IT
I would recommend a VP first, or possibly interim CTO with no stake in the company. The reason is this: no matter how much time people spend chatting and getting to know each other, it's still just an interview. Once the candidate has been working and is able to produce what you expect, and works well with the team, then you can discuss including him/her in global management pf the company and sharing equity.
Saulle Mattei
0
1
Saulle Mattei Entrepreneur
Management Consultant at Opta srl
Adryenn Ashley
0
0
Adryenn Ashley Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder at CrowdedTV; #SocialTV Influencer
You have to first map out what you are looking for skillset wise. Are you looking for a coder? or a server expert? It all depends on the level as to whether the person will fit your needs, or if you need a CTO to oversee the technical processes and outsource the work. If you have an edtech startup it sounds like you've probably already done some outsourcing. Also, where do they have to live? [image: photo] *Adryenn Ashley* Exec Producer/Founder, Crowded Reality Inc. p:[removed to protect privacy] | e:[removed to protect privacy] | w:http://crowdedreality.com
Lane Campbell
0
0
Lane Campbell Advisor
Lifelong Entrepreneur
Absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, you need a tech person involved to do a tech startup. How involved? You can try to hire someone but cash is usually hard to come by for startups. If you don't have cash then you need to recruit a co-founder. This in and of itself is a sales process. Make a list of your requirements and try to find candidates online who fit those criteria. You are certainly on the right site for finding talented people.

If you want any help feel free to reach out to me by private message.





Jack Wrigley
5
0
Jack Wrigley Advisor
VP Business Development at Kickbox.io
Forget about the title. What is it you need done from a technical perspective? Build a website, an app, iOS, Android, HTML5, other? First define what work you need done then find the best person(s) to make it happen. Startups don't need titles. They need people with specific skill sets to execute on the vision.
Karl Schulmeisters
1
0
Karl Schulmeisters Entrepreneur
CTO ClearRoadmap

I second saying that the title only matters if the person coming on board cares, though an Cxx title helps in discussions with other companies.

But what you DO need, unless all you are going to do is put up a website - is to have a technical advisor of some sort who's future incentives are tied to the success of your company (ie equity) rather than just a contracted salary

Flip it around: You are an Angel Investor.

Someone comes to you with your idea. And their management team is your two co-founders and no--one technical. Do YOU feel comfortable that such a team (based purely on the CVs involved) is likely to execute on the proposed idea?

Ok so then... do you need a technologist on board to make the team strong enough to pass the investor "trust/belief" test?


Monica Borrell
0
0
Monica Borrell Entrepreneur
CEO and Founder at Cardsmith
I agree - forget about the title. Find someone that has senior technical capabilities in your field (I'm thinking you'd likely want to find a software architect/engineer who also codes and isn't biased to one particular technology platform). Talk with them about your idea, and figure out if you trust them. If you know someone technical that only has a minimal amount of time available to help you have them vet this person. Once you find someone that you trust that is excited about your idea, he/she can help you with the next step. Be open to them being a CTO, VP, coder or even an advisor who can help you find the technical talent you need. Oh, and you will need to kiss some frogs before you find your prince. In my opinion, this is the most important thing you can be working on now. You'll of course need to continue advancing your product positioning and market story in order to get a good technical person interested.
Seth Riney
1
0
Seth Riney Entrepreneur
Principal Architect - Consultant at Startup
Agreed, titles don't matter. Depending on your existing team's background, you may need this person to wear one or more of the following hats:

Business Strategy (technology and process solving the business problem at hand, pricing models)
Product Development (Engineering, Technical Design)
Technical Operations (hosting, deployment, support)
Product Management (Feature definition, project planning, shipping something valuable to users)
Product Marketing (analytics, customer acquisition automation)
Business Development (channel partner integration)

I've seen many, many people say they need a "CTO" in order to satisfy investors and bring in technical product development expertise, but were unwilling to actually make room for a co-founder. Experienced technical co-founders and/or CTOs, IMHO, don't want to be told "implement this solution", but asked "Here is my idea/observation of a business problem, how should we solve it"?

Perhaps the best technical co-founders, frankly, found their own companies because in addition to the technical skills, they have the business/people to be the actual CEO, and instead are looking for "Biz-Dev Co-founders" to come up with the right Sales/Marketing strategy.
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