Fractional Chief Technology Officer (CTO) For Product Market Fit
You're the domain expert. You understand what the customer needs, where the market is headed. Your fractional CTO is the execution partner, the one to bring the product to life. He guides on corporate strategy, budget, engineering talent, and feature roadmap. Find one who takes an essentialist approach. At the early stage, minimizing wasted cycles is key. This role can go by other names: part time CTO, interim CTO, virtual CTO, on demand CTO, remote CTO. Distinction isn't important.
Fractional CTO Services
Fractional CTO services are generally the first dollars spent on a fresh idea. Feasibility, cost, competitive analysis, defensibility have to be determined. Depending on budget, support must then be gained from investors generally requiring a functional demo. Your fractional CTO is the one to make this happen.
Generally, a virtual CTO will work part time since the idea is still being tested. Hiring a sufficiently skilled engineering advisor full time is just not practical. It is wise to find someone who specializes in your stage of company. An executive who scales companies from $10M to $100M in revenue will not be well suited for the hyper nimble development work required to pivot and toss out ideas while searching for product market fit. An agile approach is required, and someone specializing in this sort of work is important. At MVP Engineer, we lean on open source solutions and have a vast library of work to solve common problems, so we can build your unique value proposition fast, test it, and try again.
When building an MVP, your fractional CTO can help do a ruthless prioritization of product components. What's in: what's out. This is based on the needs of the user, needs of the market, what's valuable enough to be paid for. These questions are product decisions, which the fractional CTO has experience in. But it is also informed by what's feasible and technically defensible. What can we build at a given complexity so we can bring something novel and valuable, but not incredibly costly to build. Here is where the scalability tradeoffs are made. The product will change significantly when 100x the size. Build to get from here to 100x: no more. Walking this balance is the job of the interim CTO. Choosing the correct technology for the task at hand is pivotal. Many engineers will use technologies familiar to them to maintain high margins. However, that's why we have so much PHP spaghetti code on github. Finding someone who makes choices solely for its specific purpose and consistently trains on the latest and most robust choices is vital.
Setting expectations for feature delivery is important. Knowing how much development dollar and time cost is key. It lets the CEO and founder make plans for fundraising, marketing outreach, and user research. The fractional CTO has seen buildouts of dozens or hundreds of similar projects, so can tap into industry expertise to predict what could go wrong and median outcome expectation. He can write the software design docs and system architecture for coding execution by others. Going with a outsourced development shop directly often leads to unneed cycles building unused features. When the strategy component is absent, you can build a rocket pointed in the wrong direction.
Roadmap and Business Advising
Knowing how to place features into the gantt chart to maximize impact is difficult. What comes first, and what are the dependencies of each task. The fractional CTO knows the needs of the business as well as the details of the MVP buildout. By having a deep understanding of both, tradeoffs can be made. These tradeoffs are often difficult to quantify. Spend $1500 on instagram ads before or after two sprints that will deliver a 15% improvement in ML accuracy? These two components are measured in different "currencies." Calculating the "exchange rate" between the currencies is a challenging task, dependent on deep experience in similar abstract calculations. Weighing cybersecurity risks is important to roadmap, depending on industry, it can be best to delay the focus on robust security.
Hiring and Management
Supervising a dev team and positive working culture for engineers with varied personalities requires senior leadership. The fractional CTO provides this for the engineering organization. Hiring, evaluation, promotion, management of delivery, and augmentation of internal staff with outsourced engineers all fall under his purview. Tradeoffs for speed and quality are baked into engineering culture, and the technical advisor needs to make the right call to move quickly. Low quality slows down long term goals, but perfectionism brings short term delivery to a halt. Another difficult balance for this important role.
Starting a new idea, a fractional CTO is a key piece of your success. Find one that meshes with your goals and style. Focus on competence and vision alignment. At MVP Engineer, we focus on impact. Every action must move the needle. Reach out to explore our mutual fit.