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How to Hire a Kickass CTO for your App Business

You have a killer app business idea. Great!
And you are ready to spring into action to make tones on money; but suddenly your momentum is brought to a screeching halt. Why?
Because, your company has no direction in terms of the IT features of the app. You don’t have by your side an experienced Chief Technology Officer (CTO)–the shepherd to your IT flock.
S/He is the one who can make sure that your app company's technology strategy serves its business strategy. CTO of your mobile app startup will be the person who builds its IT reputation, capitalizes on employee strengths, and creates a productive environment.
But finding it difficult to locate the right man for the job? Read on.

Outline the Job Description & role requirements

Before embarking on the hunt for your CTO, it’s important to define the skill setrequirement & craft a detailed job description for the role.
But even prior to defining his role, you need to ask yourself:
  • What SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely) goals are specific to this role?
  • What are your company values, and how does it tie into the success of the role?
Once these questions are answered, the ideal CTO must:

LOVE TECHNOLOGY: Without passion for staying updated with the various programming languages or UI/UX updates, a CTO can only be so proficient.
Have Sector Expertise:Each app category will most likely require a different skillset, of its CTO. Some could need ecommerce, IoT, wearables etc.
Be Good at Strategizing: The CTO should assist the CEO/founder in strategizing, running and scaling the company. He should also ensure that the software and technology end of the business is running smoothly and to itshighest potential. He also ensures that the tech codes are of the right quality and delivery speeds.
Have Recruitment Expertise:He should also be responsible for recruiting the right people for the job, including software developers and engineers.
Be capable of picking the right tech solutions: They will also be responsible for deciding the "tech roadmap"(based on business goals) and choice of platforms/tech solutions.
Be adept at crisis management:They should be able to efficiently manage any technical issues that may ever arise & assess all new projects for risks – security and otherwise.
Once you sketch out what is important, in crisp terminology - then prioritize. You won’t every quality you are looking for in the same person. So pick out the top 5 qualities (soft and technical skills) that you think are essential for your CTO to possess - and then start filtering.

“The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.”
-  Arnold H. Glasow

Advertise the role
The obvious next step would be to spread the word about your requirement for a CTO.
Important platforms to consider while putting up the job listing:
Recruitment websites like, Quora, Craigslist
  • Tech-led social media pages, including LinkedIn, Facebook & Twitter
  • Newspaper (online & print)
You should also always be on the lookout for leads at networking events, in your category. And when you do reach out to candidates, make sure that you really sell them your app business ideology – from culture to USP & profitability.

Networking is more about ‘farming’ than it is about ‘hunting’– it’s about cultivating relationships with the people you know. -Ivan Misner
Research the CandidatesFind out everything about the potential candidates, even before you approach them. It would only be prudent to do a complete background check:
  • Check the candidate’s social media profiles
  • Review the candidate’s recommendations
  • Ask around in your network for feedback on the candidate
  • Then onward to the one-on-one interview.
Research is creating new knowledge. - Neil Armstrong
Cheatsheet: Questions to ask for a CTO interview
Make sure that the candidate is quizzed thoroughly of his past experiences. Here is a quick cheat sheet of questions you must ask the CTO candidate:
  • Do they have experience in platform selection & design?
  • Have they managed an entire technology solution, while keeping the BIG picture in mind?
  • Narrate instances where S/He has risen above challenges to solve a technical problem 
  • How has s/He balanced the business expenditure with the needs of the business?
  • How many team members report directly & indirectly to him/her?
  • Describe his/her role in team building and nurturing ‘technical leaders’.
  • What does success look like for him/her in this role in 3/6/12 months?
  • What is his/her approach to problem solving?
  • Are they analytics friendly?
  • What sort of experience does he have in your startup’s category?
The CTOs you interview may be amazing tech architects, evangelists, or incredible debuggers – but it is the cultural fitment that is the make-or-break element.  Every CTO needs to have a healthy mix of soft skills and technical skills.
And if your gut-instinct tells you that you have found the perfect person to be your CTO, then wait no more. Make them an offer, they can’t refuse.

Make that offer
Ready to hire? Once you have narrowed down on the perfect candidate, make sure that the salary on offer is commensurate with the industry standards and his/her experience.
Ask yourself,how much more valuable will this person make my company? How much time, effort & costs would they help you save? Make sure you add to this list your therapy bills and cost of fractures you get from stomping your feet in frustration. Then multiply that amount by the number of people in your company. Now you know the real value of your CTO.  Once you have visibility on this; negotiate with the candidate.
Next, know whether you are comfortable to give a mix of stock, salary and bonuses. Stock options may help better align the CTO to shareholders, but be careful – you don’t want to give away too much either!
If you are unable to pay him a standard salary, maybe you could have the CTO candidate on as a consultant – with an hourly pay.

This article is a guest post submitted by


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