Launching software tech start ups is as much a lifestyle as an investment for the company’s CEO, and requires vision and focus to shape the company toward achieving its goals. The first challenge for any tech company is finding the right team to realize his vision, and particularly the right chief technical officer to get things going. And the CTO will face many of the real challenges that keep workflow moving or networks secure.

The Right Fit: This has to be the right person for the company and its goals. Will you be a partner or an employee? Will yours be more a consultancy or advisory board member, or day-by-day operations manager?

As a company grows and addresses its growth issues, different skill sets may be needed. If you have a background in software product development, do you also have a background in hiring and managing development teams? If this is going to be a data-driven company, what kind of background do you have in database technology?

Those who can’t take a leading role in all aspects of startup product development may find themselves being relegated to the background when specialists are called in. A hands-on or advisory role may be less suitable than a development or leadership role. Before committing, you have to understand what the company’s long term goals are, and what growth needs to happen to get there.

Flexibility: Education and experience look great on paper, but how will that help you to meet requirements and tackle obstacles? A growing list of activities will likely be part of regular duties with software tech start ups:

  • Provide input on business plans
  • Cost and time estimates
  • Software product development
  • Systems analysis and design
  • Technical risk analysis
  • Technical research and evaluation
  • Establishing meaningful business metrics
  • Security integration and policies
  • Scalability
  • Internet marketing and social media integration plans
  • Development methods and resources
  • Operational plans and resourcing
  • Software and licensing
  • Network monitoring and server capability
  • Interviewing and overseeing personnel resources
  • Conferences and presentations to key partners or customers
  • Technical innovations, customer data protection, patents

Any or all of these could be make-or-break situations for a growing company. Are the rewards fair and worth the headaches?

Taking Responsibility: Since the CTO plays a central role in company performance, it’s essential to be able to take responsibility and at least a share of the ownership of failures and stress across the entire company. The technical officer must thrive working with teams, training, setting standards, and being forthright with the CEO and other upper management.

Trending: For technical staff on any level, being up to date on technology trends and new solutions can be a huge expenditure of time. A chief technical officer stays current with industry trends, and competent in understanding and evaluation new solutions. If you can’t find the time and motivation, a different company or different role might be better.

A startup CTO must not only meet the divergent personnel and technical issues that come along with startup product development, but at the same time offer sensible direction and technical expertise that speed growth.