Developer or CTO: Which is Right for My Company?

John Shiple is Founder of FreelanceCTO ( In this video he talks about developer or CTO, which is right for your company?

  • Determine the level of commitment needed
  • Developers are paid a CTO earns equity
  • Budget is a key factor

Developer or CTO? Which is right for my company? I get this question all the time. It’s frequently asked differently. I have CEO’s and businesses coming saying I need a CTO. I need a developer. I need someone to build my product and my first reaction is to push back and dig into the situation.

First of all, do you need a CTO? Are you fully prepared to spend what it actually takes to have a CTO, and especially if it’s a startup, most companies are not in a position to do that? So the question is what level of commitment do you need from this developer or CTO?

If you have an idea and a modest budget and you can pay, you are looking for a developer. If you don’t have a budget you’re looking for a sweat equity, then you’re really looking for a partner and a CTO fits that bill. The CTO is willing to do things for equity and so on.

So first of all, you need to dig deep and truly understand am I looking for a CTO because my funders or investors are telling me that? Or do I have a much smaller problem to solve?

The second case related to that is what is the size of your actual budget? If you don’t have a budget, I’d like to reiterate you are looking for a partner. You are looking for someone to take the risk with you. Deferred salary, no salary, half salary whatever it is they are taking the risk with you, and you are looking for a different kind of person.

So which is right for company a developer or a CTO? It depends what is your company and what does it need.