How to Find a CTO for Your Startup?

March 10, 2023

How to find a CTO for your startup

Startups today rely heavily on technology. Whether it’s building a strong online presence or streamlining operations, technology is a requirement for success. With competition coming from left and right, you need a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) by your side to give you a hand.

According to Fundsquire Australia, 23% of startups failed because they didn’t have the right team running the business. Adding a CTO to your tech team may not guarantee success, but they can definitely give you a fighting chance.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the factors to consider when choosing a CTO and how you can go about finding one!

The Role and Responsibilities of a Chief Technical Officer

Your CTO will lead your startup’s development department, driving innovation and progress. They are a high-ranking executive team responsible for the technical aspects of your product development.

As a technical advisor, they will handle designing a strategic plan to pinpoint the tools needed to implement that strategy. But it also means that they will work with you on aligning your technological vision with your business goals.

Depending on the needs of your startup, they can also manage the hardware and software development cycles. While CTOs may not always be involved in day-to-day operational matters related to technology, their primary responsibilities typically include the following:

Build a forward-thinking technology roadmap

As the CTO, they will create a tech strategy that keeps your company ahead of the game. With your guidance, they will develop effective technology strategies that align with business objectives and get your team on board.

Set up the product development process

As the lead tech consultant, it is up to the CTO to create and maintain a product development process that all team members will follow. The role of this position includes bridging any gap between what the business side expects and wants and how those expectations are expressed in technical language that the tech team can comprehend.

Be on top of the latest technologies

One of the key responsibilities of a CTO is extensive research and development, with a focus on identifying emerging trends, demonstrating their value to stakeholders, and devising cutting-edge solutions. They must prioritize improving products through innovation and leveraging technology to meet market demands that put their startup on par with the competition.

Assemble a powerful technical team

Your CTO must possess management skills to handle and build a strong and competent team of skilled developers, designers, QA engineers, and decision-makers who can lead the growing development team without them. They should also know how to measure performance with KPIs, ranging from tech-related metrics such as security and innovation to business-specific ones like revenue and ROI.

Ensure that the technology infrastructure is secure

Aside from team management, complying with regulatory measures and standards is one of the key duties of a CTO. They should be capable of managing security protocols, ensuring that your online infrastructure will remain secure and protected at all times.

6 Steps to Find the CTO Fit for Your Startup

Filling in a CTO position is not an easy task, especially for startups. It is similar to finding a life partner, as they will play a crucial role in your startup’s journey.

Remember that even if there is a line of great CTO talent in your area, you have to filter out the right person who is willing to take some risks in joining a startup.

Startechup Virtual CTO Services

If you’re a tech startup, your CTO is one of the most important hires you can make. Here are the six steps for finding the one for your startup:

1. Lay down your requirements

When looking for a CTO, knowing exactly what you need is important. Identify the tech stack necessary for your next project development and use that as a filter to weed out unsuitable candidates.

For example, experience in React or Vue might be important for some projects. It’s also important to consider the technical direction and expertise of your startup and the CTO’s capability to carry it forward.

We highly recommend creating a technical business plan before hiring a CTO to ensure that the right person comes in with the right vision. Crafting a comprehensive tech startup business plan is key to the success of your venture. It should lay out the financial and operational goals, detailing how those objectives will be met. This document serves as an essential guidebook that outlines what must happen in order for you to achieve your vision of a successful technology-based enterprise.

In a nutshell, A business plan is like an outline of your goals and how you plan to achieve them. It can also provide insight into what kind of experience or technical business strategy may be necessary for success.

As much as possible, make your development team involved in establishing your technical requirements, especially if you’re a non-tech founder. They will help you come up with an accurate picture of what kind of CTO you need to succeed in your venture.

2. Rank the Qualities You Want Them to Have

Finding a technical co-founder is similar to dating. You need to find someone whose values and qualities align with your own.

The CTO must be able to work in a team, have strong technical skills, and the ability to manage technical projects. Depending on the needs of your business, you might value communication, creative problem-solving, or collaboration abilities more than others.

If you want an overview of the qualities a startup CTO needs, here’s a list you can start with:

  • Ability to translate business goals into technical solutions
  • Understanding of the product development process
  • Ability to find and recruit talent
  • Knowledge of the trending technologies in your industry
  • Experience developing secure and reliable infrastructure

While hard technical skills are important, soft skills are just as valuable. Here are the soft skills a CTO should possess:

  • Ability to work well with people
  • Strong communication and negotiation skills
  • Leadership skills to inspire and motivate teams
  • Ability to manage complex projects within tight deadlines

Once you’ve narrowed down your list, prioritize the most important qualities you want them to have. Remember that this is a long-term relationship, so it’s important to identify the qualities that will lead your business to stability and success.

Important note: Let your team also have a say in the decision-making process because they will be the people working with your CTO.

3. Go to Many Tech Meetups

Attending events and tech meetups is a great way to expand your network. Not only will you have the opportunity to interact with experts in your field, but you will also get to meet potential CTO candidates who may be interested in becoming your tech lead.

Hackathons, conferences, and summits are common events where you can discover technical talent. This way, you can talk to them directly and get to know their skill set and personality better.

Online events, however, are becoming more and more popular. If you prefer staying on the internet, look up online meetups, tech forums, and hackathons.

First, you would want to introduce yourself and your startup. Don’t forget to mention the challenges you faced during the early stages. Once you’ve explained your business, ask the person their opinion on how they would approach the technical solutions to achieve your goals.

If you are lucky, they might have some great ideas or experiences to share with you. It’s also an excellent opportunity to test their technical know-how, communication skills, and ability to think outside the box.

online interview

4. Search for Them on Online Platforms

Online platforms dedicated to connecting tech talent and employers are a great way to find your CTO. You can post job ads on such sites, explaining what type of candidate you’re looking for.

You can also search through their list of potential chief technology officer candidates and contact them directly if you think they are a good fit. We suggest looking into these platforms:



-Stack Overflow

-GitHub Jobs

-Founders Nation

You can also use LinkedIn to search for potential candidates with the right skills and experience. Reach out to people directly through their profiles or take advantage of the premium service, which offers a list of potential candidates based on your criteria. Once you’ve received some CVs, carefully review them to see if the candidates meet your criteria for a successful technology leader.

If you don’t have the time to do this, consider hiring a recruiting agency specializing in tech professionals. They will know where to look and what to look for to find the best CTO candidate for your startup.

5. Prepare a Powerful Pitch

As mentioned, finding a tech co-founder for a startup is challenging. Many of them will think it’s a risky career move, so your goal is to convince them with a powerful pitch.

The question now is: How can you make a powerful pitch?

Making a powerful pitch requires a clear and concise message that highlights the potential of your startup, as well as the benefits of working with your team. To help you prepare a good pitch, consider these tips:

  • Be direct and straight to the point.
  • Highlight your company’s main challenges and how you plan to tackle them.
  • Be transparent about the roles and responsibilities of the startup CTO.
  • Explain why you need a CTO and why it’s important for the company.
  • Outline the long-term vision of your business and how it will benefit from them being your CTO.
  • Assure them that they will be supported, respected, and have a say in decision-making.
  • Offer attractive perks like a competitive salary and generous equity packages.

You also might want to consider a freelance CTO for your startup. This will give you the flexibility to manage projects as needed and adjust quickly as things develop.

be open minded quote

6. Get Ready to Compromise

The early startup stage comprises many sacrifices, including financial and time resources. Don’t forget to make compromises if you want to get your CTO on board.

Be open-minded to making financial and time commitments if you want your ideal CTO to join. You can also offer various benefits, such as flexible working hours or remote work opportunities.

For financial commitments, you can negotiate equity packages and salaries that will make them feel comfortable with the setup. Just remember to be open to compromise and adjust the terms if needed.

Most of the time, these are the contract points that they will negotiate:


-Equity/Stock Options

-Vesting Period

-Job Description

-Terms of Employment

-Termination Rights

Think of these negotiations as an opportunity to get the best out of your CTO. Negotiate and make sure you reach a deal that works for both parties.

Before you reach out to potential job applicants, consider which criteria are essential and which can be adjusted. Doing this will speed up the process, and the sooner you get to hire your future CTO, the better.

What are the Alternatives if You Can’t Find a CTO?

What you may have read may have been overwhelming, and finding a skilled CTO for your startup may seem impossible. But don’t worry—there are alternatives to finding a CTO that can help you bring your product to life.

So, who can you hire to fill in a CTO’s responsibilities?

Part-time consultant

If you can’t find a full-time CTO, you may want to consider hiring a part-time consultant. They can handle making critical business decisions when you need them but without a full-time commitment.

A development team from an outsourcing company

Another option is to get development work from outsourcing companies that specialize in software solutions. They can provide experienced and competent developers who will be able to create your product without the need to hire a full-time CTO.

Virtual CTO

As their title says, a virtual CTO is a technical advisor that works remotely. You can only hire them for a certain time, but they can provide invaluable advice and help you make important technical decisions.

[Also read: What is a Fractional CTO?: Meaning, Benefits, Rates, and Hiring Guide]


This relatively new service provides you with access to experienced and qualified CTOs for a fraction of the cost. The advantage is that they are cheap and can manage different startup stages without needing a full-time CTO.

Architect-level developer

If you don’t have the resources to hire a CTO but still need someone with technical expertise, this is the best choice. They are highly skilled and specialize in developing software applications.

woman in a virtual meeting

Need Technical Expertise for Your Startup? Get Our Virtual CTO Services!

With the rising AI and machine learning tech trends this year, having a technical advisor in your startup is a must. They will guide you on the right path and ensure that you make the best technical decisions for your business.

At StarTechUP, our Virtual CTO service provides startups with access to experienced and qualified CTOs. They are available on-demand, and you can hire them for any period of your business development.

Whether you need someone to develop the software or to make important technical decisions, our virtual CTO services will help you reach your goals.

Get in touch today and ensure your business stays ahead of the competition!

About the author: Andrea Jacinto - Content Writer

A content writer with a strong SEO background, Andrea has been working with digital marketers from different fields to create optimized articles which are informative, digestible, and fun to read. Now, she's writing for StarTechUP to deliver the latest developments in tech to readers around the world. View on Linkedin