Do you really need to have a CTO on your founding team to build a successful business?
To answer this question, you first need to define what responsibilities you want this technology co-founder to maintain. There are three areas that require technical expertise:
- Product Definition – Define the Company Product
- Requirement Analysis – Collect an analysis of customer requirements for defining the product
- Product Roadmap – Based on customer requirements, expectations and available resources, define the scope and shape of future releases
- Product Design – Create SiteMaps and Wireframes for customers’ facing site/app and internal tools
- Product Development – Build the Product
- Build Backend – Design and develop the database, server logic, and services
- Build Web & Mobile Frontend – Design and develop the website and mobile apps
- Build Internal Tools – Develop systems and tools to let company employees run the business
- Technical Operations – Operating the Technical Side of the Business
- Servers Deployment – Manage servers to insure business continuity and scale
- Monitoring & SLAs – Define and monitor SLAs with service providers and customers to resolve technical issues
- Security & Data Integrity – Set access permissions, security layers, data archival and retrieval policies
Product definition tasks are executed by product managers who come from business or engineering backgrounds, while product development and technical operations are covered by professionals with an engineering background. If one of the founding members has expertise in product management, you can concentrate on completing the team with engineering professionals. If you don’t have product management expertise within your team, you need to find a product manager who will bring in this expertise. However, many product managers have technical backgrounds and can initially manage the product development activities themselves.
The question of whether you need to add a developer or development manager to your team depends on the type and technical complexity of your business. If your business only utilizes technology, a product manager can manage the development of the first versions of your product with outsourced development teams. You can hire a full-time engineering lead later, when the company is mature, and you need to cover all technical operation activities. If you are building new technology or a technical services organization, you need to have a technical expert in your founding team. There are many existing open-source or commercial products and platforms that allow new businesses to set up quickly. There are also professional development teams (like BeKitzur) who have expertise in many of those products and can provide full-cycle service for building and maintaining the products.
Let’s review several types of internet businesses and their need for a technical co-founder. The following businesses don’t necessarily require a technical co-founder:
- eCommerce Stores – Web, mobile, iPad, Amazon like, Pinterest-like
- Marketplaces – Elance, Real-Estate, Rentals
- Games – Mobile, casual, web
- Publishing and Content Aggregation – Blogs, news, content sharing
- Advertising Networks – Web and mobile ad agencies and ad-networks
- Social Networks and Social Sharing Apps – Photo, video, articles
- These businesses can be quickly set up and launched by professional development teams. Thus, one of the co-founders should drive product requirements, as well as oversee and accept the developed products.
These next businesses are technology heavy and require a CTO on-board:
- Any new technology
- Any product whose users are other developers or technical people
- Platforms connecting many market players together
- Cloud Solutions – Obfuscating infrastructure, servers, and data behind a set of services
- Most B2B systems and solutions that need to be integrated with existing customer’s systems
- These businesses can be initiated and pursued by the founders with technology expertise, while non-core components of the system can be outsourced.
BeKitzur can quickly review your business plans and recommend the best way to get the first version of your product to your clients.
Our experienced technical product managers will completely cover all Product Definition steps, and our development teams will build and maintain your products. We know all the shortcuts to get products to the market quickly and efficiently.