- Paul Mestemaker II
A Fractional CTO is a seasoned Chief Technology Officer that will work for your company part-time to help you build a prototype to solicit early user feedback and to better understand the market that you're in. A Fractional CTO is generally used in the early stages of company formation. Some Fractional CTOs refer to their offerings as CTO-as-a-Service.
If you're running a startup, this is a great way to get the expertise of a seasoned CTO without the full-time commitment. You can hire a Fractional CTO to help you with your technical strategy, product development, and team management.
Who needs a Fractional CTO?
If you're a non-technical startup founder, you need someone who can help you with your technical strategy and execution. This generally means that you need a technical co-founder or a CTO. Ideally you find a full-time CTO, but if you can't, a Fractional CTO can be helpful in many cases.
If I get a Fractional CTO, what will I still need to do?
A hugely important step in the relationship between a non-technical founder with a Fractional CTO is that you'll need to communicate your vision clearly and repeatedly to the CTO and team. It's important that you're very clear on what you want to build because you'll be guiding the CTO to help the team execute on that vision. You'll also need to be available to discuss tradeoffs or trust the team to make these decisions on your behalf. Long-form writing (e.g. in the form of Vision Docs or Product Requirements Docs) is a great way to communicate and explore your ideas.
You will also need to be very hands-on with the prototypes being built so that you can update your mental model of how the product will provide value to your customers and differentiate itself in the marketplace.
What will I get out of it?
There are several potential deliverables:
- A prototype that you can use to solicit early user feedback on.
- A technical team that can execute on your vision.
- An operating playbook of how to build a product and company.
- Potential conversion of the Fractional CTO to a full-time CTO.
When should I not hire a Fractional CTO?
A Fractional CTO is a great way to bootstrap your team and processes to rapidly launch a prototype. But If you can afford to hire a full-time CTO and have a pipeline of spectacular candidates to choose from, you should do that instead.
Also,several prominent investors are skeptical of part-time CTOs. They believe that a part-time CTO is not committed to the company and will not be able to provide the same level of support as a full-time CTO.
Paul Graham is one of the world's most successful angel investors. He is the founder of Y Combinator and has invested in thousands of startups. He recommends not outsourcing the development of your product. Paul Graham on Outsourcing Product Development
So if you want to raise money from investors like Paul Graham, you'll probably be better off focusing first on hiring a full-time CTO before focusing on product delivery. This also follows the principle of First Who, Then What from Good to Great.
How do I find a Fractional CTO?
This is one of the services that we proudly offer. We start with a 1-hour free consultation to discuss your business and idea and then take it from there.