If you have a great idea for a new app or technology product but don’t have the technical skills to make it happen, you may want to consider hiring a chief technical officer (CTO). A skilled coder or engineer can develop the product according to your specifications and ensure that it gets built right the first time, saving the time and expense of correcting mistakes later on.
However, as every budding entrepreneur soon learns, people with exceptional technical skills don’t come cheap. If your cash flow doesn’t allow for hiring a CTO, there are many options you can explore, including offering equity instead of direct compensation.
Where to Find a CTO
Like so many aspects of starting a new business, finding a CTO is all about networking. To identify technical people who might be interested in joining your idea:
- Place an ad on the job board at your local university. Offer experience and opportunity to those looking for challenging internships.
- Give presentations on your idea to computer science classes, technical clubs or other groups at the university. During the presentation, mention that you’re in the market for a CTO.
- Conduct a Google or LinkedIn search for CTO associations or networking groups in your area.
- Utilize startup platforms like Ideator who can help you connect with people who either have solid technical skills or can put you in touch with those who do.
Getting a CTO to Join Your Idea
Getting a skilled CTO to join your idea when all you have to offer is equity can present a challenge. Often, technical people don’t think they need a business partner because they can build a product themselves. To overcome this mindset, you need to demonstrate how your business skills can complement their technical skills to produce a win-win for both of you.
Show how you have researched the market and clearly defined the need. Describe the network of advisors and potential investors you have built to support your efforts. Show a mockup of the app or product to allow the CTO candidate to visualize its market potential.
Most importantly, make it clear that they will be working with you, not for you. Reiterate the mutual benefits of working together, and then offer some equity in the company. If the person likes your idea and wants to have some “skin in the game,” you may have found a winner.
If your quest for a qualified CTO is unsuccessful, consider outsourcing the coding and hiring a technical advisor to review it. Finding a technical advisor is usually easier because they don’t have to leave their job to work for you. Instead, they sign up for an advisory role that only requires a few hours per week.
If you do find a good CTO candidate and don’t know how much equity to offer, ask a question or start a discussion thread on Ideator