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CTO vs Co-Founder | CTO or Co-Founder: What To Choose

Do you know that, according to Investopedia, 90% of startups fail? To succeed in entrepreneurship, it is vital to have not only...

Written by Niel Patel · 2 min read >
Chief Technology Officer vs founder

Do you know that, according to Investopedia, 90% of startups fail? To succeed in entrepreneurship, it is vital to have not only a good product, but also well-qualified specialists. Especially if we are talking about innovations and IT products. 

The Chief Technology Officer is the executive responsible for managing and driving value from technology within an organisation

Modern industries are so dynamic and diversified that sometimes it is arduous to find the difference even between two job positions. The same concerns a chief technology officer and a co-founder in innovation spheres. Of course, it all depends on a specific product company and the job responsibilities list. At the same time, there is a principal contrast between the above-mentioned positions. Let’s dive in and figure it out. 

The role can differ from company to company but usually includes everything from: 

  • Technology vision and strategy
  • Architecture
  • Innovation
  • Software development
  • Infrastructure

1. What is a CTO?

A chief technology officer (or just CTO) is an executive-level specialist who is responsible for implementing the most effective technical solutions and strategies. It is the key staff figure, mainly in the IT sphere, when we are talking about product development. It would be easy to understand when we compare, for example, the role of a prime-minister on a country’s scale and a chief technology officer’s position in a company. Their fields of authority are quite similar.

To build up the holistic picture, we need to understand CTO roles and responsibilities. A CTO relates to business-oriented processes. He focuses on the competitive advantages that his company would gain and creates the product technical concept that is the most relevant to modern market conditions. It means that the hardware and software sides of the product play a vital role here. That’s why a well-qualified chief technology officer always pays attention to the project and team management. We can also see that this professional has an extended pool of obligations. As a result, all-around competence is needed. A CTO is a product’s defender, with the main goal of verifying that it is the most appropriate, cost-effective and functioning technical solution possible while also satisfying all the stakeholders. 

2 Differences between CTO and Co-Founder

A co-founder is a driving force in the team who has possessor-level accountability. As a rule, this person invested certain funds in the company and holds current assets. A co-founder may have a membership in the board of directors, or he can just get his dividends and not be involved in the company’s functioning. If we are talking about a startup, usually this person takes an active part in the everyday life of his business. Briefly, a co-founder is like the one symmetrical part of scissors: without that, it is impossible to have the last ones functioning.      

The main differences between CTO and Co-Founder are presented in the table here:

CTOCo-Founder
hired professionalas a rule, self-employed 
executive-level specialist possessor-level person
focus on technical aspectsdetermining the general direction of a company
highly valuable specialist needed mostly for a big business  usually appears in startups
doesn’t get in forming of authorized capital   may be involved in forming of authorized capital 

3. How to Determine Who to Look for

The widespread statement through different specialists based on their experience says that startups do not require a CTO on a regular basis but merely to aid with important choices. It happens when the thorough market and competitor research is needed, what does a chief technology officer do

There are some issues you may face while determining whether you need a CTO:

  • it could be expensive for a startup to hire a CTO;
  • the specialist should have appropriate and specific experience;
  • it is a long process of finding a CTO.

If we are talking about a co-founder, in most cases, he is needed to provide some additional financing to a startup. All the business relations with this person are built on a partnership. However, there is a high probability that the co-founder could have his own vision of product development and implement some unnecessary business strategies.

Briefly, if you need a partner with some extra budget opportunities, get a co-founder. If we are talking about a specific professional in an innovation field, a chief technology officer may be a great fit.

4. The Takeaway

In the publication, we reviewed some essential moments in CTO and co-founder functioning differences. Of course, every big company or small startup has a unique and time-proven strategy for how to create the most effective employee structure, and it’s great! The key issue here is that you should take into consideration the needs of a firm in this situation.  

The comparison shows us that the CTO and co-founder may seem to have quite similar job responsibilities. At the same time, you can’t ignore some aspects that make them professionals in some specific fields. It is perfect if you are able to combine the comprehensiveness of a co-founder with the hands-on technical solutions and CTO skills: then it is guaranteed you will succeed.

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