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Does Your Startup Really Need a CTO?

Cache Merrill

Cache Merrill

11 April, 2017

So you want to be a tech entrepreneur, but you’re not a technical person? It sounds impossible, but contrary to popular belief, it can be done. This quote from Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, explains my philosophy on startup success in today’s tech world:

“Startup success is not a consequence of knowing everything. Whether you like it or not, the fate of your startup will rely on multiple brains, not just your own. Creating a tech startup in today’s world can be done by any smart entrepreneur – the key is knowing how to connect with the right network.”

In my experience, startup success is not achieved as a product of knowing everything. In fact, it doesn’t really matter what you know or think you know. The success of your startup will ultimately be determined by the people you hire or partner with to build your company. By connecting with the right network of individuals, who will help you foster innovation, your tech startup can overcome having a non-technical founder.

Several of my company’s current clients are success stories of this nature. They overcame having a non-technical founder in the tech space by hiring a technical partner who could fill the gap. The reason these clients are now a major success is due to the fact their non-technical founders found the right partner, who could help them progress without needing to hire a CTO.

Why It's Hard to Find the Right Partner

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 1.24.40 PM.pngBecause of the nature of professional networking, online or otherwise, we tend to network with people of similar interests or skill sets. So naturally, not everyone has a network ridden with CTOs and lead developers. Many of Zibtek's clients are companies with non-technical founders who didn't know the right people to get their product built. Our client, GetAccepted which was recently acquired by The Princeton Review, is an excellent example of overcoming networking constraints and finding the right tech partner. Read our case study about how GetAccepted got acquired.

Working with a tech partner rather than hiring a CTO is not only more cost-effective in the short term, it can pencil in the long run as well. Finding a tech partner who can grow with the company is crucial. As our clients have grown from startups to enterprise companies, they’ve hired CTOs who now direct my team on tasks like QA testing and automation to building out new features in the core product.

Leveraging a tech partner can give a startup the ability to get a lot of software built that can be tailored later on as the needs of the company change. I recommend working with a tech partner who has a proven background in Agile development, as the needs of new software are ever-evolving. Not only will Agile methods help you build the best product for your buck, but it will also keep your team growing in the leanest way possible.

Need more evidence that smart entrepreneurs can build tech startups without a CTO? Make your own cost comparison and start vetting tech partners. You’ll be surprised what you can achieve without a CTO.

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