A Startup CTO for Your MVP - Do You Really Need One?

Startups have to work with a little to create a lot, and competent technical guidance at an early stage is critical for your MVP.

And unless you’ve got the experience to make informed decisions (think software architecture, data modeling, technology selection, scalability, problem-solving, and spotting possible architectural risks and bottlenecks …), you’re going to need to bring in some assistance.

You might be thinking of bringing on a chief technology officer, or CTO. Unfortunately, however, talented CTOs are hard for struggling startups to attract and costly to keep on hand.

So, what do you do?

To help you decide the best way forward when it comes to building your MVP, let’s look at the role of a CTO, the associated costs, and when you should consider outsourcing instead.

What is a startup CTO in charge of?

A CTO is an executive who manages the intricacies of a project’s technological development and strategy.

In addition to having a working understanding of each part of your business’s technological infrastructure and needs, the CTO must be able to plan out long-term maneuvers and allocate spend to achieve success on the market.

The cost of a startup CTO

Hiring a full-time startup CTO costs money and time. It can even jeopardize your chances of success.

High salary

As we mentioned above, it’s costly to bring on a startup CTO. Owing to their importance to tech-dependent businesses, CTOs are highly paid executives. This can, unfortunately, make them an impossible expense for a nascent company to justify.

Wasted time

Taking the time to find the perfect CTO for your company can put you behind your competitors in terms of building out your MVP. You want to channel your time and resources into your product—not into endless searching for the right fit.

Risk of team breakup

It’s also worth noting that the loss of a C-suite executive in the early phases of your project carries the potential to stunt your growth indefinitely.

When new startups seek out CTOs, the applicants who aren’t deterred by the startup’s high risk of failure may not actually be qualified for the position. What can happen when things get tough is that the inexperienced CTO might abandon the project or have to be let go.

Outsourcing to a digital product agency as an alternative

Wondering what other options you have? Consider a digital product agency.

By partnering with a digital product agency, you can tap into vast stores of industry experience and tailored insights at a fraction of the cost of a full-time startup CTO.

Digital product agencies have time and numbers on their side, with a team of specialists who can cover all of the bases of your startup’s technological strategy. Here’s what you can expect:

Know-how and expertise

A digital product agency can contribute the kind of critical expertise that your company needs to navigate the earliest stages of growth and beyond. An agency can offer clear guidance on product design dos and don’ts, product-market fit strategies, and more.

An experienced team

With a wide body of work in the digital space, spanning multiple clients and companies, a digital product agency is uniquely positioned to offer advice backed by real-world experience to startups that need it most.

As your MVP comes together, a skilled digital product agency team can help shape it into a winning solution without needing as much initial investment into market research to get the details right.

Industry insight

Industry workarounds, niche budgeting concerns, and legal compliance complications can all be handled more effectively by a knowledgeable agency team, lending lean startups the core strengths of a full-time CTO without the loss of fiscal flexibility.

Building a digital product?

Things to consider before partnering with a digital product agency

The following list of questions is by no means exhaustive, but it can give you a good idea of the kinds of things worth considering before pulling the trigger on a new partnership with an agency.

Do you have a concrete development plan?

A strong development plan is essential to your company’s success. If you don’t have one or lack the means to make one of your own, you should consider partnering with an agency for help.

Can you handle the tech stack?

Is the technology stack you plan to use something you can take on alone? If not, an agency can help here as well.

Can your founder read your product’s code?

Coding skills and business leadership skills are not commonly found in a single person. A digital product agency, much like a CTO, can make sense of raw code and translate it to actual business processes.

Are upfront costs a major concern?

If your answer is “yes,” then a digital product agency partnership is probably your best bet.

If you do find that an agency is the right choice for your startup, you’re going to want to find the best fit. To do that, make sure you ask the right questions.

Give a digital product agency partnership a try

At VeryCreatives, we take the time to get to know your product inside and out, adapting underlying technology and functionality to maximize your growth potential. Get in touch with our team to learn more about how we can help your company achieve its goals at each stage of its development.

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Feri Fekete

Feri Fekete

Co-founder of VeryCreatives



Digital Product Agency

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