Friday, 19 September 2014

Founders – The challenges of recruiting a CTO – why it pays to outsource!

One of the hardest things to do as a Non-Technical Co-founder is to recruit a CTO who can join the company later but still share in the passion that you have for the product. With the rise of accelerators, hands-on investors and easy options to build a MVP and launch, many CEO’s are finding that they have so much to run from the business and client end, that they are in difficulty when it comes time to find the CTO.

Launching through having your product built by a third party, or a friend is great and is a really cost effective way to get to MVP, however it creates a legacy of technical debt and potentially difficult code or technology stacks that might not be right to scale the product. This is where the CTO or Lead Developer is really key to taking you through to the next level.

At this point the CEO or COO will be heavily engaged in running teams, working with clients, mapping feature sets and reporting to the board and their main constraints are around time as well as funding the hiring of a new CTO. Using agencies can be costly, 25% of salary is not a small amount, doing it through friends, referrals and networking can take forever with the board increasing the pressure to hire every month.

I recently worked on a project for a client to do exactly this and though it might be useful to share our experience of this.

The total amount of time to hire was 55 hours, this included setting up job postings, reaching out through LinkedIn, searching job boards, tele screening candidates, organising technical screens and skype interviews with the CEO, COO, investors and finally closing the deal with the candidate. 
That’s probably the average week for a CEO but ask one you know if they could afford the time to do this.

We reached out to over 250 candidates directly, managed over 80 advertising responses, had over 10 direct referrals across multiple sources.
We posted across Europe, headhunted, networked and drove the process on, keeping our candidates in the process during August when everyone was on holiday, giving consistent feedback to candidates and managing communications.

What did the company gain, we hope that candidates got a better view of the company, had a better experience and due to implementing a workflow system called Workable are able to build a talent pool that will be receptive to them the next time they hire.

What were the learning points.

  • ·         Hiring from Europe can mean great candidates who are prepared to work for less, but the           advertising platforms are not great yet to attract them.
  • ·         Referrals are great especially from investors.
  • ·         You can spend a lot of money with little ROI on new platforms.
  • ·         Speed is of the essence, having a streamlined process is ultra-effective, longer than 2 weeks         to hire means you lose candidates
  • ·         Everybody needs to be bought into the process.
  • ·         Reaching out through Linkedin or other platforms is more effective than anything.

What was the end result?

For under 30% of the cost of an agency, a slick process and the opportunity to build an ATS, we hired a great CTO, did it in a reasonable time frame and the CEO spent less than 5 hours in actual interviewing. That’s a good result! are a inhouse recruitment service for startups and fastgrowth companies in the Technology, Bio and Mobile world. To find out more visit