How to Find The Right CTO as a Non-Technical Founder


Photo Credit: Medium 

In our last post, we covered creative ways to find your CTO right here in Vancity. Locating CTO potentials, however, is only the first step. How can you find the right CTO to add to your team?

CTOs are essential additions to startups. Their tech backgrounds complement the business acumen of non-technical founders to elevate the whole start-up.

In a general sense, non-technical founders generate the ideas and set the stage for their vision. The CTO develops and sets the parameters to which their vision is further and tangibly realized.

Finding and onboarding the right CTO to help steer your startup in the best direction is no easy feat. It’s especially tricky if you have little to no technical background.

So what are good guidelines for finding the best CTO possible?

We’ve put together this resource to show you the qualities you should look for in a CTO, where to find one, and finally, how to pitch your idea to your potential partner.

We’ll start with the qualities you should look for in a CTO.


Qualities to Look for  in a CTO

Join Forces with a Biz-Tech Extraordinaire

It may be a surprise to hear, but  typical developers don’t make the best CTOs. The CTO role is a tall order that goes beyond the scope of merely  developing and delivering a SaaS product. It requires taking on hiring, task scheduling, and the soft skills required to manage and resolve internal issues effectively.

In an ideal situation, you would  onboard a tech-savvy businessman. He or she would be an amalgamation of a developer (first and foremost) with a good background in project management or a transferrable equivalent. Your CTO should  be able to strategize the next move as well as optimize the technology and rollout of the startup’s vision.

Your CTO Must be Committed to Your Startup

A jack-of-all-trades  CTO juggling two startups while working for you will have a difficult time optimizing your technical team and your app’s rollout. You don’t want a CTO that will stretch him or herself thin with managing multiple projects at once.

Their level of commitment should determine the level of equity they hold in your startup. A CTO with only one project –  your startup – will be more invested in its success.

Find a CTO Who Can Match Your Hard Work

CTO duties include assisting you in differentiating your app, managing your tech team, executing your app’s prototype (just in time for pitching to that angel investor!), rolling your app out to beta users,  and much more.

CTOs have large shoes to fill, and this requires a level of dedication, passion, and grit that only those who share in your vision can manage.  

Now that you know the qualities you’re looking for, it’s time to learn about how you can find your CTO online.


How to Virtually Find Your CTO

Outside of local entrepreneurship communities, biz-tech meetups and events, here are ways to find your CTO virtually.

Founder Dating Sites

Here is a list of founder matchmaking sites that more or less do the same in brokering connections between co-founders:

Social media

  • Linkedin – It’s an obvious place to find your CTO, but you still need to use it effectively to achieve your goal. Upgrade your plan to use Linkedin’s sales navigator feature and filter for the qualities you’re looking for (e.g. freelance project manager and developer in data solutions).
  • Facebook  – Here is a great  list of Facebook groups where you can find your potential CTO.


You’ve learned what qualities to look for, and how to find a potential partner. Now let’s discuss how you can sell your idea so you can get to work with the CTO you’ve worked so hard to find.


How to Effectively Sell Your Idea to a Potential CTO Partner

As a non-technical co-founder, your startup vision must be as attractive to potential partners as it is to you. Trying to pitch just an app idea to a likely CTO  can be a hard sell. Execution and proof of concept are critical in the age of fast-moving tech innovation.

Proof of concept, aka validation, is vital.  It indicates that user traction and revenue are likely. Here are a few things that you  want to prepare already to appeal to a potential CTO’s interest strongly.

An Existing (and Enticing) MVP

Developing your application’s  MVP will appeal to a potential tech co-founder. You can cost-effectively develop your fully functioning MVP through government innovation grants , and/or investor funding.

Alternatively, an MVP developed without programming is definitely possible if its concept is strong enough. Though hackey, sometimes some crude improvisation to make an app usable can work.  It’s a great way to validate your application before throwing down some big bucks for development.

AngelList is an example of having hackey app origins turned app success story. This networking site that connects entrepreneurs to angel investors started as an expensive and over-developed site that did not gain user validation. They had to go back to basics and start from scratch. They had to use manual processes using mailing lists and Wufoo forms to manually broker introductions to make angel investments happen.  

Once enough user interaction validated their app and they observed  how it could work best for their growing user base, they commissioned developers to build something more sophisticated to automate their processes (link to case study).

User Traction Goes a Long Way

Traction is the result of users and/or customers adopting an application at successful rates.

Building an MVP is one thing, but will it actually help  your intended users and generate revenue? Or will flop just like AngelList first did?

Before building a fully functioning product, you can also get earlier traction through promotional landing pages, leveraging crowdfunding sites, partnering with relevant events, and other creative initiatives.  With traction, potential CTOs will clamour to get involved with your application because of its established and healthy user base.

Developing an MVP and gaining traction will bring you leverage in finding the committed and hardworking CTO who shares your vision. Understand that searching for the right CTO will take time and hard work.

Another Option: Hire a Development Agency Instead

Alternatively, you could avoid searching for a dedicated CTO altogether and hire a development agency to deliver your MVP as well as act as third-party tech consultants.

Groove’s founder, Alex Turnbull, did this without any funding, prototype, or user base. Going this route means you’ll have to work with a higher price point and hold most of your app’s directional and technical burden. On the plus side, this will have you, the founder, maintain more of your equity stake.


Gravit-e can and has acted as a hybrid of a soft CTO – external development team,  contact us for more information! We would love to hear from you and learn about your vision!