Do's and Don'ts for a Startup CTO

19 Oct · 6 min read

Do's and Don'ts for a Startup CTO

A startup CTO is the backbone of their technical team. His primary goal is not just to manage the technology but the whole team and the tech stack as well. A CTO has a lot more responsibilities just than the writer on a paper or in his job description. A CTO role can be defined as : Technical Leader + Business Analyst + Project Manager, specially when it comes to startups, as in startups one person might have many roles, and that is the reason it's a startup aspiring to be a big firm. 

A CTO not only requires Technical experience but also Business understanding as well. And that is the primary reason to hire a CTO or while a person is being chosen for a CTO position. Afterall, their main goal is to tally the technology side with the Business strategies in a way that it turns out to be perfect.

CTO job roles might also include People Management, Strategy, Leadership, Decision Making etc.

But a CTO ought to understand that being a very critical role, they have certain Dos and Don’ts, which they have to follow in their journey:

Dos for a startup CTO

Managing the team:

It’s hard to believe a startup CTO without good terms with people. As this is his first responsibility towards the team and the company. CTOs are responsible for hiring the managers, software developers and testers as well and help them complete the project effectively by contributing their technical knowledge to the projects as well.

The foundation of a successful startup is built when the team is qualified to do the assigned tasks. Which means managing the hiring by being involved technically is very essential. They should understand and analyze the candidates’ profiles thoroughly in order to get the work done by the potential team. 

With a potential team, CTO can attract great investors and clients to opt for their solution/services further. 

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Define the Technological Stack:

A team needs a vision in order to work on their project, and a vision comes only when the CTO has made a structured wireframe for the team, with their technical abilities. And to define the technical stack it's very important to understand the requirements first.

CTO also keeps an eye on the company's hardware and server infrastructure as well. And manages the technical stack by deciding which technology to be used, who will be working on backend and frontend of the software or application. 

For example, in an Application building process the tech stack would be:

  • Backend Technology
  • Frontend Technology
  • API integration
  • UI/UX
  • Tools and Platform used

Track the performance of the team

This is a very important point to keep in mind, while your team is assigned to the project. As this ensures the quality stuff and also makes sure if the potential and productivity of each team member is as expected or not. And for a long run, CTO can oversee which team member will be perfect for the upcoming projects as well. 

It’s also important for the CTOs to listen to the ideas from the developers and other team members they oversee for advocating new ideas and implementing them in the future.

They can also reward the team for their recognition, as it keeps the wheel going for the team as well, and they always have the zeal to achieve something in turn of their good performance. 

Represent the Company

A CTO representation is very important to get the more investors onboarded for their startup and that is how it grows. They are representatives of the technical endeavors of the company.

Also, it’s very important that the CTO represents their team as one single entity and takes a stand for whatever it takes. As the CTO has given his time and efforts to build a team, a process to implement the idea, and the management to get hold of a smooth process, hence its their responsibility, to take the teams stand for good and bad both the times. When it's good for the company, they should make their team an equal part of the success, but when there is a snag, his responsibility is to make them understand that and make sure it doesn’t happen in the future.

Moreover, they should also be the face of the company for client’s engagement such as conferences, team demos etc. They should always be ready to find new initiatives and keep their team engaged and brainstorm better ways to work in future.

Take a Break

Last but not the least, a CTO is not supposed to work 24/7. As they are human beings as well, and they have emotional burnout as well. Hence taking a break or scheduling yearly shutdowns won’t hurt, it will give them some time to get some fresh breeze and get back to work stronger. And not only them, but this break should apply to their team members as well to get rid of the exhaustion working in an IT startup and get some time off and maintain the work life balance.

Don’ts for a startup CTO

Don’t be hard on your team:

No matter if you are the CTO of a startup where the things are not as organized as a big MNC but it doesn’t mean you have the right to be hard on your team. Between assigning the work by giving them a little push, and pressurizing them to work has a very fine line, which shouldn’t be crossed if you are planning to create a healthy work environment within your team. And you don’t want them to cringe about you, on your back.

Always remember, take the relevant and realistic commitment and do not in a lala land. If you are making a change in the process, try to keep the pace slow for your team to adapt to that. That’s how you make a good CTO out of yourself.

Building good terms only with C-suite

This is the most important point to keep in mind, if you are becoming a CTO of a startup. Always remember, that you might be chosen to lead your technical team by the company’s top management. But they are not the one to keep you going, your technical team is the one who will seek good assistance from you and the good terms from you. Hence it is very important that you maintain a good relationship with each and everyone in your team along with C-suite.

Going Solo

It is advised that the CTO of the startup should be the face of the company but by making sure that they aren’t flying solo. As this might leave a negative impact on the team. Team members are likely to be included when there is any success or any fault as well. Hence always take account of this pointer.

Underestimating the new technology

Sometimes when an experienced person is joining as a CTO of a startup, they might have a tendency to “know it all”, and that’s where conflict occurs. When the team proposes some new or different technologies out of their interest or knowledge, they start having problems. Which ultimately leads to ‘not so customized’ and new solutions. Which a big drawback for the company to grow technologically. 

Hence in order to avoid this fact, a CTO is also required to make their learning graph maintained and updated according to the technology trends.

Get involved in personal conflicts

When there are people working together, with different interests and knowledge, conflicts might occur. It can be personal and professional as well. Hence it’s not a CTO’s responsibility to resolve it, as it might disturb the terms among them. Hence it is always advised to send these concerns to the Human Resources Department and always be impartial. 

Hope you have received an insight in order to keep up as a CTO. Always remember, just the technical knowledge won’t suffice for being a CTO.

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