Recruiting a founding CTO

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How to find and recruit a great Chief Technical Officer (CTO). Lean startup skills for new entrepreneurs, from General Assembly Sydney class 2012

How to find and recruit a great Chief Technical Officer (CTO). Lean startup skills for new entrepreneurs, from General Assembly Sydney class 2012

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  • 1. Recruiting a founding CTO Thursday, 6th September 2012Alan Jones| @bigyahu |
  • 2. I’m very old me you
  • 3. the chief hindsight officer• Started first degree in 1983• Did my first tech startup in 1995• All my advisory ‘wisdom’ based on my own past f*ckups
  • 4. Brainstorm exerciseWHAT IS AN ENGINEER?
  • 6. Being a startup engineer sucks• Nobody understands what you actually do• Nobody even speaks your language• Nobody understands your motivations and desires• Everybody wants to talk to you all the time• Nobody understands why your work is running later than expected• It’s all about money
  • 7. The unique psychology of engineers How it feels to you
  • 8. The unique psychology of engineers What worries them
  • 9. Why the dissonance?• You have all the communication skills• It’s really all about the money• They may have their own startup idea• Engineering myth: great products market and sell themselves
  • 10. What is a CTO?• Geeky core• Thin nerdy layer CEO CTO CTO• Maturity and experience (not same thing)• Leadership skills• Project management skills
  • 11. CTO expression exerciseWHY IS A CTO IMPORTANT?
  • 12. Why CTOs are important• A developer can build what you specify, but can’t build what you can’t yet specify• A CTO can tell you what you should specify• A CTO can also help build what you can’t yet specify
  • 13. Why CTOs are important• Appreciate broad direction of industry• Watches your competitors as closely as you do• Leads a tech team and manages performance• Additional spokesperson to a key audience• Involved in recruitment process across startup• Key ‘human capital’ for investors
  • 14. What do CTOs need in a product idea?• Interesting problems• Opportunities to shine to a broader tech community• Recognition and respect• A chance at no longer being a wage slave
  • 15. Rube Goldberg machineClassic interesting problem
  • 16. Where to find potential CTOs?••••• AirBnB
  • 17. You’re a CEO You dress for business
  • 18. He’s a CTO He dresses for comfort
  • 19. How to pitch to a CTOGo native… a bit.
  • 20. How to pitch to a CTO• Reduce the visible differences• Research your subjects• Learn enough jargon to express your needs• Be honest about what you don’t know• Approach as a peer• Leave lots of grey areas
  • 21. Pitch practice: the sequelPITCHING YOUR IDEA TO A CTO,ONCE MORE, BUT BETTER
  • 22. How to quickly assess CTO capacity1. Eye contact and meeting skills2. Depth and breadth of professional network3. Thinks before having an opinion on your business ideas4. Has interesting insights into marketing, customer service, sales5. Wants to seek advice from others
  • 23. CTO non-cash compensation/rewards• Time to identify interesting problems and solve them
  • 24. CTO non-cash compensation/rewards• Public recognition of their prowess to their peers and yours – Twitter – Blog – Meetups and pitches – Nerdy gifts, gift vouchers for, Amazon
  • 25.
  • 26. CTO non-cash compensation/rewards• Input into non-dev business issues – Customer marketing – Investor relations – Customer support• Less business management, more process – Briefer, more informal reporting – Care more about the destination than the journey
  • 27. More tools andreading• OK Go: Rube Goldberg machine music video•• to-recruit-a-CTO-to-a-start-up-company•••• ‘Smart & Gets Things Done’ – Joel Spolsky• ‘Managing Humans’ – Michael Lopp• ‘The Mythical Man Month’ – Fred Brooks• Thanks to CEOs Maria Sipka, Catherine Prosser for CTO-finding ideas