[Techie Tuesday] 10 tips for startup CTOs to keep in mind

For a startup CTO, debugging code is more about solving problems and building a product out of them. Here are 10 things that a CTO must keep in mind.
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The word Chief Technical Officer (CTO) is glamorous in a startup world. If the company’s CEO is the leader for visioning the path to success, the CTO is responsible for executing and implementing the required processes to reach the end destination.

For a startup CTO, debugging code is more about solving problems at its root and building a product out of them. Not only do they have to think in terms of scalability but also need to collaborate with various departments, hirings, team growth, quality management, vendor relationships and more with limited resources.

It won’t be an exaggeration to say that a CTO can easily make or break the company. So here are a few things which you should keep in mind as a startup CTO -

Tech debt: Every source code has tech debt so don’t shy away from accepting. Be proactive in fixing this. Fix before it becomes too big to handle. It’s ok to have small debts but if you observe a big debt even just before a feature release, stop the release.

Engineering + product: You will always be wearing at least two hats (there’s one more - customer success, but we will talk about that later). Think user first which means product first and engineering second.

“It’s very difficult to disconnect these two, but the earlier you learn, the less painful it will be as the product/platform grows.”

Code culture: Don’t be too late in introducing code smell tools (we made this mistake). The smaller the engineering team, the easier it is to implement code culture.

Scale is relative: Understand your space in depth and build for millions or billions depending on your use case. Not every product needs to support billion transactions on day one.

No-code tools solely cannot make your company successful: Product building is just one of the factors to build a successful company. There are other important areas like hiring, product market fit, and go-to-market which matter more.

There’s never enough bandwidth: You will always be short of development bandwidth (even if you double your engineering and product team size tomorrow). Do not delay the feature roll outs, push the minimum viable feature and then keep on iterating! 

Business priorities change: Make peace with some level of changes in business priorities which drives the product roadmap

Developers with user first mindset: 10 percent of product manager persona in every engineer is worth a lot more than having more product managers in the team.

Read ‘The Phoenix Project’: This is a much recommended book for those pursuing careers in the technology field. In a fast-paced and entertaining style, three luminaries of the DevOps movement deliver a story that anyone who works in IT will recognize. One will not only learn how to improve their own IT organisations, they'll never view IT the same way again.

Enjoy and have fun while building: There will always be times of feature delays, production going down, engineers leaving, candidates not showing up on their joining date. Make peace with this, you are not the only one!

This post was earlier published as a Twitter thread from the author's account and has been reproduced with permission.

Edited by Anju Narayanan

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