I am Ayush, co-founder and CEO of Mindbowser. At Mindbowser, I and my CTO teamed together to build an agency that can bring the best of tech and knowledge for founders. In case you would like to discuss your options further, feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or book a 30 minutes free consultation call.Get Free Consultation!
While planning a tech startup, the need for a CTO is urgent. But for most founders, it is hard to fill in as discussed earlier. The interim solution to the situation is finding a Virtual/On-demand CTO.
Virtual CTO is a cost-effective and time-effective solution to your CTO needs. A virtual CTO takes care of all CTO responsibilities like setting up the technology best practices, technology vision, resource planning and so on but works for multiple companies and is a consultant.
The pros of this arrangement are getting started with a CTO quickly without having to commit long term. The cons of the arrangement are that you will still have to keep working at some point to find a full-time CTO, once things get growing. Also, a virtual CTO may get busy with other gigs over time. He/She would not have the same skin in the game as you would expect from a cofounder CTO.
That being said, virtual CTO is a great way to get started quickly. It is a better option than having no technical guide at all. With a virtual CTO at the helm, you can build a team with senior developers who may even remain in contention to take the CTO spot when the time comes.
Hiring a development agency has been a successful way to build companies for numerous startups. The choice to outsource or not may have to do with the type of startup you are building. If your startup is around enabling automation and technology for a manual process, outsourcing can do wonders. If your startup is about inventing technology then having in-house resources makes more sense.
Another thing to consider is the type of person and experience you come with. Not everyone is poised to attract a great A team and sell a vision on day one. Unless you have already experienced successful exits, you hold technology patents or you are coming out of FAANG companies, it is going to be hard to convince people to join you. Hence, engaging an agency at the start can be a good way. You can read more about considering an agency or not here.
An agency that comes in with its best practices can even cover the needs of having a virtual CTO and can be a good fit for you especially during the early stages of the company. Get your scope underlined and have the agency run it. This way you can save a lot of time in hustling through the various options.
Having an agency also mitigates your risk around compliance, HR functions, labor laws etc that you may like to skip till your company shapes up. The plug and play option offered by most agencies can help you at ease with different skill requirements that a startup requires like DevOps, data science, automation, design etc apart from backend and front end development. A good agency is always a good option to have later in your journey as well to complement your in-house team.
Risks involved in hiring an agency are continuity of personals, lack of control on team culture and risk to intellectual property. The good news though is that all these challenges are solvable with the right intent, engagement and contract. Another disadvantage is that for many founders, the comfort that a good agency provides may lead to internal team-building initiatives taking a back seat.
For most founders, having your idea attractive enough for others to join, takes time. Money is another issue. Hence, considering the above aspects, hiring a software agency can be great. Just keep the contract right and hire the right agency that has the right processes and is extra motivated to work with you.
Here is another method to get your idea off the ground. Just like horses for courses, one can engage freelance developers on an ongoing basis. The pros of this strategy are the ability to hire anytime and from anywhere. The disadvantage would be the lack of control and best practices as the company code would grow under the experience of different developers.
Say, the developer is a PHP developer, he/she may convince you to use PHP for your product without helping you make the right choice or without knowing the pros and cons of it. For individual freelancers, it is against their interest to suggest you alternate options as they risk losing your business.
The only possible way to counter this threat is to have a senior engineer/CTO in-house who sets the practice and expectations and freelancers have to adhere to that protocol.
The advantage of hiring freelancers is that they could be turned into permanent hires. When engaging with freelancers, make sure to check on reliability, proactiveness, trust and quality. It is a great option to use to save cost and also find talent but as mentioned above the processes and quality aspects have to be managed.
It is not a recommended option if you are a sole founder or a founder group with no technology background or help available because in that case, you may find yourself having no clue of the technology choices being made for your company and taken for a ride.
There are many different ways to build a technology startup. You can start by building your own team right away or can hustle with different options. You can even choose to keep a hybrid team that is a mix of in-house and outsourced components. It all comes down to the type of startup and your own personality type, owing to what you are most comfortable in. The list gives you a glimpse into an understanding of the various models you can use.
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Mindbowser helped us build an awesome iOS app to bring balance to people's lives.
From start to finish MindBowser has just been phenomenal in terms of their support for us.
We had very close go live timeline and MindBowser team got us live a month before.
They were a very responsive team! Extremely easy to communicate and work with!