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Startup CTO Role v3

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Startup CTO Role v3

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Covers: 1) How Startup CEOs can manage and assess CTOs, and 2) Tactics for people becoming a first time CTO in a startup company.

Covers: 1) How Startup CEOs can manage and assess CTOs, and 2) Tactics for people becoming a first time CTO in a startup company.

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Startup CTO Role v3

  1. 1. A look into methods for the CTO Role interacting with different parts of building a startup company. Bryan Starbuck Bryan@WhiteHatEngineering.com WhiteHat Engineering, Inc. We are the engineering team for a Business founder Startup CTO Role CTOCEO Department Heads Board of Directors
  2. 2. TalentSpring Founder & CEO - Acquired in 2010 B2B Enterprise SaaS company with Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning SPARKON Founder & CEO - 2011 to 2013 B2C Online learning & Passion Discovery Owner at WhiteHat Engineering: (Current) Our engineering team builds startup companies & products Bryan Starbuck STARTUPS & ENGINEERING Bryan@TheStarbucks.com
  3. 3. I’m searching for: Business Founder with an idea CTO Technical Founder-type Brings an engineering team I look for Business founders. I act as CTO. I also bring in 3 software engineers. And we build out the company aggressively
  4. 4. 4 This talk is for: Anyone who wants to transition into a CTO Any first time startup CEO for managing & measuring their CTO or
  5. 5. 5 Techniques in this talk My techniques are just my $0.02 opinions. You will do things, your way. I want to create a discussion at the end.
  6. 6. 6 This talk is about CTO exec skills This talk is NOT about coding or programming technology skills. Those skills can be learned at Udemy.com and elsewhere. This is talk is about the CTO-specific skills.
  7. 7. 7 VP of Product Management Early on, CTO often needs to back-fill “VP of Product”. Later, a VP of Product Management can join.
  8. 8. 8 Startups built out with significant momentum This is designed for startups with serious momentum. Swift to market. Swift to grow in market. Great for companies who raise capital. NOT for companies bootstrapping and going slow.
  9. 9. 9 The CEO picks the GOAL of the company CEO owns the VISION and GOAL of the company I’ve found the Pitch Deck is a great way to pin down lower level details. Keep the CEO & CTO on the same page, and others who follow.
  10. 10. Blue Prints of the building
  11. 11. 11 CTO in blue print designing mode… I found this process IRONS OUT startup plans, AND unifies CEO & CTO. Engineering Sprint work items SPECs Product Road Map Pitch Deck (Top Strategy, Vision & Goal)
  12. 12. 12 Pitch Deck is great for top level planning The pitch deck is great to unify on the TOP level VISION. And then pin down medium level decisions. Engineering Sprint work items SPECs Product Road Map Pitch Deck (Top Strategy, Vision & Goal)
  13. 13. 13 Product Roadmap & Milestones Engineering Sprint work items SPECs Product Road Map & Milestones Pitch Deck (Top Strategy, Vision & Goal) The Product Roadmap is then great to pencil out FEATUREs until LAUNCH, and thru milestones
  14. 14. 14 SPECs for Distributed teams, etc. Engineering Sprint work items SPECs Product Road Map Pitch Deck (Top Strategy, Vision & Goal) “Just in Time SPECs” SPECs make plans STICK. Great for Distributed teams. Great to centralize information. Don’t let everything blow in the wind. Emails. Verbal discussions.
  15. 15. 15 SPRINTs for top execution Engineering Sprint work items SPECs Product Road Map Pitch Deck (Top Strategy, Vision & Goal) Sprints are great for measuring execution SUCCESSES and FAILURES.
  16. 16. Strategic facets of building the startup from the early days
  17. 17. 17 Q: Do we deliver on this promise? Q: Do we have a narrow focus? Q: Are we building too much? More than is needed for customers to buy? Brand Promise It is great to build a startup against a: BRAND PROMISE
  18. 18. 18 Q: How do we position our unique advantage? Q: How is positioning wrt changes in the market? Q: Does our strategic positioning mean customers will buy us INSTEAD, even when we are the same price? Positioning Strategy POSITIONING STRATEGY Do you have a strategy?
  19. 19. 19 Q: Required when raising capital Q: Did we REALLY create an excel financial projects making sure we can reach that large market size? Actually reaching market size Will pricing and market size allow us to reach our goal?
  20. 20. Strategic use of Time
  21. 21. 21 Down the rabbit hole Engineers start off their career going down the rabbit hole, … as they focus on technical build outs SYMPTOMS: Bad estimates, missed deadlines, etc.
  22. 22. 22 Accountability to time Measuring everything to TIME is critical: a) Do we have enough resources to meet that date? b) Are we starting to fall behind? c) Can we estimate correctly? d) Do we spot problems, early when they build up?
  23. 23. 23 Two Sprints per Month Two sprints per month is great a) Easy to plan b) Agile c) Every dev self-manages to finish d) Measuring success in board meetings
  24. 24. CTO Decisions on building out a company
  25. 25. 25 Technical Co-founder CTO As a technical co-founder, each area of the strategy & pitch deck needs to be double checked a) Dev team size & capital needed to reach milestones b) Math in financial projects reach market size c) Product   Brand Promise d) Positioning Strategy
  26. 26. 26 UI Design summarizing busines As a technical co-founder, each area of the strategy & pitch deck needs to be double checked Is it very simple? Verify CEO & CTO on the same page. Understandable at one glance? An important factor: One screen that summarizes the product (& brand promise).
  27. 27. 27 Verify product scope isn’t too broad First time business founders can fall in love with delivering a huge range of features. Co-founder (technical) should verify a clear narrow focus.
  28. 28. Operational Efficiency for the engineering team From founding until profitable.
  29. 29. 29 Every sprint highly productive? Do you have the system to MEASURE high vs low productivity? Every month? Board of Directories will measure this directly, or indirectly
  30. 30. 30 Agile != Unaccountable Be careful: Some engineers want AGILE == UNACCOUNTIBLE A board of directors & CEO expect managing engineers with accountability
  31. 31. 31 Board meetings: Measuring through-put CTOs need to present their DEPARTMENT at board meetings SUCCESS vs POOR execution should be measurable. Needing to fix a problem is okay. Not knowing you have a problem is NOT okay.
  32. 32. 32 Sheltering DEVs Devs want to be sheltered, when they are accountable to deliver on commitments. Two week sprints is a great sheltered window. Prevent external from engineering from causing CHURN. Prevent CHURN  high moral & devs will remain accountable.
  33. 33. CEO   CTO
  34. 34. 34 CEO  CTO CEO communicates the VISION, GOAL and FOCUS of the company.
  35. 35. 35 Blue print view of the company Walk thru each stage Engineering Sprint work items SPECs Product Road Map Pitch Deck (Top Strategy, Vision & Goal)
  36. 36. 36 CEO  CTO sync up Sync-up with fire hose like communication. Blueprints get updated. CEO can focus on building up everything external: Fund raising, partnerships, customer acquisition, branding, hiring, etc.
  37. 37. CTO   Board of directors
  38. 38. 38 Board meetings: Measuring through-put CTOs need to present their DEPARTMENT at board meetings SUCCESS vs POOR execution should be measurable. Needing to fix a problem is okay. Not knowing you have a problem is NOT okay.
  39. 39. 39 Sales teams & Product team Sales teams can blame the product team. Sales teams are under tremendous pressure on reaching quarterly revenue targets.
  40. 40. CTO  Department Heads
  41. 41. 41 Keeping everyone on the same page Writing the PLAN-of-RECORD down will help make it “stick” across a team. Pitch deck. Projected financials. Product Roadmap. Milestones. SPECs. Work items.
  42. 42. Other Topics
  43. 43. 43 Start to launch in 5 months CTO + 3 full time devs. Launch in 5 months (after starting to code) This is a good challenge and planning discussion.
  44. 44. 44 After launch Try for 3 features ONLY for launch. Then nearly all development after that goes towards customer acquisition.
  45. 45. 45 CTO Cutting months to growth It is very easy for a startup to “Throw away 3 months”, several times. CTO’s job is to prevent this.
  46. 46. Open up discussion
  47. 47. An engineering team that builds entire startup companies from the ground up WhiteHat Engineering STARTUPS & ENGINEERING Early Stage Crypto-Currency & more
  48. 48. THE END Bryan@WhiteHatEngineering.com @BryanStarbuck

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