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The role of a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) has grown in influence as the CTO is the main lead of a company’s  research, development, and technological needs. CTOs evaluate the short and long-term needs of the company to utilize its capital to make investments designed to reach its goals. CTOs lead the start-up’s Technology or Engineering department and directly reports to the company’s Chief Executive Officer and board. The biggest hiring challenge is the scarce talent supply and high demand for good CTOs. Knowing this, we’ve analyzed and answered the questions about when to hire a CTO, the ideal team structure of an engineering team, and the skills needed to be successful in this role.

What is the Ideal Structure of an Engineering Team?

A CTO’s team structure should ideally include a user experience  researcher, backend engineers, DevOps engineers, and data scientists. The user experience researcher helps to define the start-up’s identity, branding, needs of target users, and scope. Then,  this person will develop the content and functional scope, translating them into information,  architecture, and interaction design before forming a wireframe. Backend engineers are coding and data structure experts as they connect the frontend to the backend. DevOps engineers ensure smooth demos, prevent bugs before production, and establish backend infrastructure. Finally, data scientists gather and analyze large sets of structured and unstructured data to help the company better understand its product and target users.

Technological Expertise

Technical expertise is undoubtedly at the top of the hiring manager’s list. CTOs manage the company’s technological roadmap, so they are required to oversee its data, security, maintenance, and network. Meaning the CTO should understand the technologies and framework used within the startup. While finding someone who has mastered every technology is near to impossible, it is crucial to be specific about having the right skills. For example, a CTO with full-stack technical knowledge can understand the potential issues during development and offer solutions. In addition, the CTO will be able to know how to make the right hire for its development team.

Product Vision

Being a startup, a CTO should be excited about the company’s product and plans, visualize the end product, and share the same vision with the development team. In addition, CTOs should have a strong understanding of the company’s specific business requirements to create a framework that uses their technologies to fulfil its short- to long-term goals.

Cultural Fit

Startup culture can sometimes be fast-paced and overwhelming, so the CTO should be prepared to embrace the culture and take on challenges. In addition, the CTO would need to adapt to the company culture and know how to lead an ethnically and economically diverse team.


A CTO should ideally have more than ten years of experience in the IT field as almost all CTOs possess a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science-related subjects, which sets a good foundation for their CTO journey.

When Should I Hire My CTO?

You need to take into consideration the stage that your company is at, the ideal skills you want for the CTO and how much you should pay them before you start your hiring process.

The Funding Stage

A CTO plays a different role at different lifecycles of a startup. Most start-ups decide to make their first CTO hire during the seed stage because start-ups want enough time to share their vision and long-term plans to scale it over time. The seed stage is the perfect time to hire a CTO because the startup will develop its idea, product, and concept. At the seed stage, CTOs are often responsible for all things technical. For example, frontend, backend, DevOps, and anything that gets the product up and running. After start-ups have secured more funding, a CTO role would transition into a position that further delegates and develops the technology/engineering team. As your startup grows and expands, you will find that your CTO moves into a strategic role.

How Much Should I Pay My CTO?

CTOs’ salaries can range from $300k – 350k (USD). For start-ups, compensation is a unique topic because the salary ranges depending on the company’s funding stage and the equity offered. Therefore, finding a CTO who is passionate about what they do and would feel a strong sense of achievement about scaling your company is crucial.

Who Are Storm6?

As a specialist EdTech recruitment agency, we can connect you with experienced CTOs that can help scale and build your company. Contact us now to find out how we can support you and your start-up/scale-up to success.