There are several reasons why an interim CTO could be the right fit for your company, in this article I’m going to talk through some of them and explain where I could be of value. Let me first start by stating a common issue:
Very few companies start with a great idea and a great technical team to achieve that idea, indeed it is often the case that technology comes second to figuring out the market need, and rightly so!
As a result CTOs aren’t always the first concern, they are however a critical part of a successful business.
Of course now we have a chicken and egg problem, good CTOs aren’t cheap, and if you’ve never hired into this role before it will be incredibly hard to spot a good one. Without a good CTO how can you expect to make other good technical hires?
You can’t afford to pick a CTO that won’t work out, but you can’t afford to stall until you find that perfect person.
Enter the Interim CTO
An interim CTO is someone who doesn’t work full time for your company but when they are contracted to work will act as the CTO.
Think of it as someone with all the experience you need to make decisions when they count, but without the price tag of paying someone full time.
Interim CTOs can be involved as much as a few times per week to once a month. At different stages of your business you may need more or less technical guidance.
What I can offer as an Interim CTO
As it happens, this is a service I offer! I have a passion for solving business problems, putting in place great teams and giving them the direction they need.
Specifically I can help with;
- Working out the product roadmap
- Deciding who the first technical hires should be
- Planning how the engineering culture could look
- Helping with the hiring process (including for a full time CTO)
- Putting good development practices into the business from the get go
- Analysing the technical landscape and the current toolsets being used
- Turning tech talk into English when speaking to investors
- Using my network to help the business wherever I can
Now, there are a lot of people who can offer the same service, where I provide more value is in the trust I can build within a development team. I am a developer, I always will be, I just happen to have these other skills.
Developers work best when they can trust management, I will provide that trust and make sure we are all pushing towards the same goal.
The days I spend with your team working remotely or on site will be dense with value, I will be drawing on over a decade of experience making technical projects a success and we will achieve the meaningful goals that will move your business forward.
In the early days you may just need me once a month to help validate some ideas, as things start to solidify you may want me in twice a week - I can be as flexible as you need and when the time comes I am more than happy to fire myself from the project when I see engineering is set up for success or we’ve made the right hires to no longer need me.
I’ve worked for big companies, small companies, remote companies, tech led companies, luddite companies - you get the picture. I’m battle tested at helping make the correct calls in a given situation and helping to narrow focus down to what really matters.
I am based in London
I am based in London but am happy to work remotely when it suits.
London is a very expensive place to be doing business. Office space is at a premium and there always seems to be a company just that little bit more lean than you are, able to do things just that little bit faster or that little bit cheaper.
Because of this, it isn’t a very forgiving place to do business. If you go under you will soon get swallowed up and forgotten about as 3 other businesses take your place.
If you were based in a cheaper part of the UK (in Northern Ireland, for example) you would find it a lot more financially forgiving. Of course you would miss out on the networking and community that being based in London can provide.
London based Interim CTOs
If you agree with me that London has fantastic energy and enthusiasm and also agree that the cost of doing business is high. Then hopefully you will follow my next statement.
You need someone that will help guide you from making the decisions that will sink your business, whilst keeping the energy in your company high.
Lots of CTOs are fantastic technically, in fact I am sure many are more technically gifted than I will ever be. But technical ability only gets you so far before you see diminishing returns on it. You need someone who is incredibly technically competent but will not suck the life out of the room.
Unfortunately I’ve seen this happen before. A new manager will come in and shake things up in entirely the wrong way. It may save the company money in the short term, but if people don’t like working under the new manager you are going to have long term problems.
London is big, but news in the tech community travels fast. If your company is earmarked as having poor leadership you are going to have a hard time attracting talented folk to help create and maintain your product.
Working with someone like me, who is already in London means you don’t need to pay to get someone to travel in, and I can use my network in London to help introduce you to folk who could potentially help your business even more.
Why a Remote Interim CTO may be preferred
If you need someone to help your business make technical decisions that would normally be done by someone like a CTO, but you don’t have the budget or skill set to hire in a good full time CTO then you should be considering an interim solution.
The issue with an interim solution is that unless you happen to be based somewhere with a ready supply of excellent contractors who could fulfil this need then you are going to have to try and coax someone to travel in to work with you.
Asking people to travel in is perfectly reasonable, but it is also completely reasonable that they would ask for more money as a result. If people are travelling long distances they are more likely to get burnt out and start looking for similar jobs closer to home.
Obviously travel time isn’t a factor with a remote position, so this is unlikely to happen.
Having the flexibility for your team to be remote has several benefits, here are a few;
- You can hire top people around the world
- Communication and documentation are improved
- If in different timezones you get longer development coverage
- Access to more communities and cultures
This isn’t an article about why remote working is a good thing, but I think it is important to realise it is.
If you agree it is a good thing then hopefully you will also see that having your CTO be remote makes a bold statement that the company is invested in a remote culture.
Onsite staff don’t get preferential treatment (as is often the case) and communication and decision making is more open and well documented by default – this means that the value I can provide will outlast just the time I am with your company.
In a lot of early stage companies space is a huge factor. This seems like a small point but a remote CTO doesn’t need a desk – nor do I need a computer or any other resource that would end up costing you money you hadn’t budgeted for.
Finally, assuming that you aren’t located in London. If I was working remotely for you I would be able to use all of the resources available to someone working in London – which means your company can benefit from having someone in the capital without needing to pay the rent costs. This could mean setting up investor meetings, going to relevant meet-ups to try and attract new talent, or demoing our product at demo days.
What makes you think people like working under you?
You can check my LinkedIn profile for some recommendations from previous folk who worked under me, here are some quotes;
he fully supported me from the day one. He is a great developer and even better leader. I never expected that I can grow so much during 2 years period that we worked together. I would recommend Toby to any leadership or dev role.
He was an amazing mentor for me and I learnt plenty of things with him. I cannot thank him enough for that
Toby has been fantastic to work along side. Always pro-active and looking not just for ways to do his job well but also to improve other company systems, from a simple keyboard short cut to a new process implementation entirely. Always approachable, full or ideas and a great team player
VP of Creative