What is a Virtual CTO? The role of a CTO and how to hire one

The Atom Team
Virtual CTO startup

The role of a Chief Technical Officer (CTO) is to set the technological direction of a company and create a roadmap for how technology will be used in the business.

CTOs should have a strong understanding of technology, IT architecture and operations, as well as the business, its operations and strategy. This is because they act as the bridge between the business and IT.

The specific responsibilities of a CTO will depend on the company’s needs. For example, a company that relies heavily on technology, such as one using machine learning or AI, may require a CTO with deep technical expertise and domain knowledge. On the other hand, a company with a less technically complex product may benefit from a CTO with more business acumen, who can understand how technology can drive the business forward.

Many prospective clients who approach Atom CTO have differing ideas on what the role of a CTO is or should be, depending upon the technological knowledge already held by the founder.

It’s important for a CTO to have the ability to manage and coach technical teams, as well as interact with investors and handle board meetings. However, these business skills are not always inherent in technical team leaders and lead developers, and may need to be developed over time.

Start-ups may not always need a full-time CTO in the early stages of the company – most of the time, we find that most startups don’t need a full time CTO. Instead, it may be more important to have a technical founder or lead developer who focuses on setting up the foundations of the technical frameworks rather than trying to fulfill the role they would find themselves in as the CTO of a larger company. As the company grows, however, there may be a need for a CTO to manage the sudden increases in growth and development.

When the time comes to hire a CTO, it’s important to look for an individual who is capable of building a strong IT operation and thinking strategically. The CTO should be able to command the respect of developers, as well as managers, executives and shareholders.

As time goes on and the team size grows, CTOs will move away from the hands-on day to day aspects of managing developers and look more to how to use technology to grow the business whether that is by entering into new territories or partnerships or finding efficiencies within the current business operations.

Atom CTO provides virtual and fractional CTO services which means that we can not only serve as the technical voice within the company but also as the person that can help you raise investment, manage vendors and internal teams.

As your business grows we can help you build your technology team and will provide that consistent face to your key stakeholders and when the time comes, and if you so choose, we can help you hire a full time CTO that we can help coach into the role. Once on board, we can also serve as a technical Non-Executive Director to ensure that the business vision is maintained and suitable governance is in place for IT.

We have over 20 years’ experience working in large global multi-nationals as well as scaling start-ups globally.

If you’d like to learn more about virtual CTOs, listen to our podcast where Atom CTO co-founders Sam Noble and Bhairav Patel describe the role of a CTO, when and how you should hire one and also explain the Atom CTO model and the services we provide as virtual CTOs.

Listen to podcast

We’ll be your virtual Chief Technology Officer
Whether faith in the existing team has been eroded, your current tech team needs a senior mentor, or you need a new tech vision for the company, Atom CTO is here to support you.