Stop Chasing Tech Talent

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CTOs are hot commodities; 26-year-old Mike Lewis has a resume most startups would devour.

He’s started two companies and even developed military software systems.

Lewis is happily settled as cofounder/CTO of Spoton, a mobile app that recommends places to go with friends. Still, he’s frequently prospected.

We asked Lewis what drew him to SpotOn and what attracts CTOs to startups during the recruitment process.

Here’s his advice to startups looking for tech talent:

  • Network in tech communities. First-time entrepreneur with no funding? Network in the Python or Rails meetups and find a first-time CTO. Experienced entrepreneur or have funding? You probably don’t even need this advice, but network with CTOs through your CEO friends. All CTOs have techie friends and know who is CTO material.
  • Demonstrate progress. Be it a contracted prototype or significant business development/traction. Techies meet way too many business folks who consider themselves “idea guys” and just need somebody to implement. Idea guys are useless as founders (they’re better as investors). Founders should be deft executioners.
  • Show an effort to learn basic tech lingo and concepts. If the only languages you can name are PHP and Java, you won’t get much respect from the best techies (who usually stay on the cutting edge). Like-wise, your CTO should also take an interest in the business side of things as well. If they only care about tech and can’t prioritise business needs, that’s a warning flag of problems to come.
  •  Vet potential CTOs using other CTOs. If you don’t know any top-class CTOs personally, contract the job to the CTO of a well-respected startup. It’s easy money to them and they can tell you more in 2 hours about the candidate than you could figure out in a week on your own.
  • Finally, a developer is not the same as a CTO. A CTO can develop, but they also have in-the-trench experience to make higher level decisions with regard to tech architecture, team structure, and engineering process. Many developers will grow into CTO’s, but it depends upon personality.