How to Find a CTO for Your Startup in 2023 – A Step by Step Guide

How to Find a CTO for Your Startup in 2023 – A Step by Step Guide

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Why a Chief Technology Officer?

2.1.  The start-up landscape today

2.2.  Technological advances in the corporate world 

2.3.  The need for efficient project management

  1. What skills should the ideal candidate possess

3.1.  Networking

3.2.  Management experience

3.3.  Communication

  1. How to hire a CTO for a startup

4.1.  Stake out the talent pool

4.2.  Make your decisive move

  1. Conclusion


So you have built your own app, and all of your developer friends say that it holds great potential to go big. However, despite all of your efforts to help it get to the next level, you just can’t seem to be able to do so.

Maybe you have a whole team of diligent developers working for you. Or better yet, you are the CEO of a fledgling firm that is tirelessly working towards realizing your dream of upscaling the business. Even so, signs that your start-up is going to get where you want it to be just keep evading you.

Frustrating as it may seem, this is a universal issue present at a lot of start-ups. If only there was someone who would understand your vision in technical terms. How the efforts of all the people you have employed can be channeled towards achieving your goals.

That is precisely what a CTO is meant to accomplish. The CTO will tell you what you are doing well, but more importantly, they are going to tell you what you are not doing so well. 

Why a Chief Technology Officer?

A Chief Technology Officer is a vital cog in any business today, not just for start-ups, and for good reason. We are moving into a world where technology forms an inseparable part of any company’s operations, if not already there. Without a sound technological infrastructure, no company can compete with its peers, let alone the big hitters.

Let us take a look at the start-up landscape of the world today. After which we’ll try to dig into why we even need a CTO as a service

The start-up landscape today

One wouldn’t find it too difficult to gauge the fact that the number of businesses sprouting up globally with every passing year is an insanely high number. A majority of these companies can be deemed as start-ups, given their humble beginnings and recency in conception. 

This is an important consideration for the economies of entire countries. Governments are doing their best to prop up start-ups and further encourage the growth of all businesses small and big.

For instance, in India, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry have launched the Startup Initiative, which describes itself as “a flagship initiative of the Government of India, intended to catalyse startup culture and build a strong and inclusive ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship in India.”

The website goes on to state that India has “the 3rd largest startup ecosystem in the world”. With India being the home of one of’s offices, we will explore both India as a global hotspot for businesses and what the term ‘start-up ecosystem’ means.

Technological advances in the corporate world 

The boom in the number of growing businesses would not have mattered in terms of the need to have a CTO had there not been such a simultaneous rise in the number of technological applications that have seen their use in the corporate world.

The demand for technological infrastructures in companies has some clear implications. It means that more people with an extensive knowledge of such systems are needed. The purpose is to bridge the gap between the workforce and their deficiencies in knowing how to tackle tasks using those systems, and make the most of them as competitors do.

The need for efficient project management

Project management is an essential element in the smooth running of any organization. This is so that all deadlines are met without a hitch. The ideal CTO should know how to estimate how long it would take to complete a task. They should also know how much it would cost.

All this along with knowing how to establish communication between teams involved in creating the product, and defining the risks. These skills come at a premium but on the other hand, they can end up saving a lot of time and money for you. 

What traits should the ideal candidate possess

Before we get into how you can find the ideal CTO for your start-up, you must know what you want to be looking at. Right off the bat, there are qualities that all candidates must have which should dictate the length of your shortlist. Because it goes without saying that having excellent technical prowess is a must, we haven’t included it here.

  1. Networking

The ideal CTO should know enough people that might be prospective employees for you in the future or serve your company one way or another. Having such a pool of talent in one’s network can potentially be of a huge advantage to you.

  1. Management Experience

The CTO you end up hiring should have some experience managing a team of developers. That or something from a similar domain, which utilized their management skills and their technical knowledge to a good degree.

  1. Communication

In this context, communication doesn’t mean the ability to express themselves clearly and being able to listen to others well. 

Yes, these traits are key, but what is also important is being able to communicate the technical aspects of their unique role within the company. It involves being able to break down the solutions they might have come up with for complex problems. They should also be able to explain the rationale behind them so that the whole team can get behind them.

In all, a person capable of empathizing on a human level is an obvious plus point. Someone having the patience and foresight to see the bigger picture even during times of hardship should also make for a great fit for any firm. 

A well-rounded CTO would possess the above traits and more. This includes the ability to inspire those underneath their position and being passionate for the work they do.

How to hire a CTO for a startup

Now that you know what to look for in candidates for joining your start-up as the CTO, your search to find a CTO co-founder should begin. We’re calling them a co-founder if you are still at a stage where the company is yet to be conceived. Chances are that you already have a few candidates in mind. If you haven’t started the search yet, the following pointers should be of help.

  1. Stake out the talent pool

Your first step shouldn’t be to zero in on your target and asking if they would be willing to join. This is because there most probably exists a wide spectrum of demands that your potential candidates will have. This includes their compensation, the conditions they would be willing to work under and so on. These will be dictated by the experience and skill level of each candidate. 

You don’t want to end up in a situation where you are sold short when it comes to delivering on the needs of the role. You don’t want to grossly undermine a potentially perfect candidate either.

You should therefore know beforehand if the demands of the candidate you are interviewing are in line with their qualities. You can do so by first of all utilizing the power of the internet. Go through discussion forums and online communities if you haven’t already, such as those on Reddit. There are dedicated start-up communities as well such as CoFoundersLab, Wellfound, and Indie Hackers.

You’ll be able to understand what the going rate, so to speak, is for a CTO for startups with the experience level you are looking at for a start-up that’s similarly positioned as yours.

  1. Make your decisive move

Once you have a fair idea about what the perfect CTO would ask of you, you can go about looking at their profiles and start contacting them. You can go down the cold outreach avenue. Or you can simply put up a job description on a place like LinkedIn in order for interested candidates to apply and have them reach out to you instead.

Make sure to keep all of the aforementioned points in mind when speaking to them, and gauge their technical know-how. In order to do so, you’ll have to do a deep research on some of the technical aspects of their role yourself. 

This is essential if you don’t see yourself as sufficiently armed with the knowledge to be able to rate them. Take help of the resources at your disposal, including members of your start-up who are well equipped in this regard.

The most important bit is to know your own start-up inside out. You should ideally have a Proof of Concept beforehand in order to lure a potentially great candidate. If they can see what you are working toward, it will only serve to help either party do their job well later down the line.

Besides these points, there exists a bunch of routes that you can go down in your search for a CTO. This includes candidates in your networks that you don’t know of, but with a little digging, you should be able to find some options that you wouldn’t ordinarily have found. Remember that the internet is great, but it’s not all there is!


If you have arrived at the decision of appointing a CTO for your start-up, you probably have thought about the pros and cons to a large degree yourself before even reading through any online resources. Having said that, we hope this article has been of help in arranging your thoughts to some extent when looking for the best possible candidate.

We’d like to reiterate the importance of having a CTO in a growing start-up as opposed to not having one. A dedicated position for managing the technically heavy aspects of your start-up’s operations will go a long way in channeling your firm’s efforts in the right direction.

Also, make sure to understand what getting the job entails for your choice of CTO. They should be able to motivate and guide the team. Besides this, they must have a wealth of technical knowledge and ideally some experience managing a group of professionals. Having most of the qualities we have outlined will stand your start-up in good stead.

More importantly, the person in question should be a fast learner if they don’t seem to be showcasing a trait that you were expecting to find in them. They still might be a good fit, and this is where your relationship with them will be decisive. Remember that appointing a CTO means handing the reins over to a large degree.


  1. Do I really need a CTO for my start-up?

The answer is yes if you would like to have a role in your company dedicated to finding solutions to complex technical problems that come up during the expansion of your start-up. The CTO’s technical know-how can be used for building and expanding the technical aspects of your company’s product.

  1. Where can I find a CTO for my start-up?

You can search through discussion forums and online communities, such as CTO subreddits on Reddit. You can also visit dedicated start-up communities as well such as CoFoundersLab, Wellfound, and Indie Hackers. One can visit tech meet-ups and summits. LinkedIn also has the potential to serve up some options that you can interview.

  1. What skills should a CTO have?

Besides the requisite technical skills, a Chief Technology Officer should have experience of project management. They should ideally have a strong network of industry professionals who might work for your start-up later down the line. They should be able to communicate the technical requirements of a task to their team members. 

  1. How much should I pay the CTO of my start-up?

The answer can be wildly different based on a variety of considerations, such as the region you intend to operate from, the candidate’s experience, and how much of your product is ready to be released (MVP, Proof of Concept) before you hire the CTO. In order to understand the answer to this question for your specific case, you’ll need to do a lot of research with respect to these conditions in your region.

  1. Is there an alternative to having a CTO for my start-up?

Yes, as long as you have developers in-house or a sound team of experts to gauge your immediate technical requirements and provide solutions to them. However, this can be difficult for an expanding start-up and that is when a dedicated position needs to be created, which ought to be filled by a candidate with the requisite job experience.

Stay Connected

More Updates