A Part-Time CTO

For the longest time, I’ve debated about my real sweet spot in the technology realm. I was never one of those hardcore engineers who’s going to crank out reams of code over a mt dew fueled night. However, I was also never one for pure management.  I’ve always straddled the fence between the two.  Everywhere I’ve gone, people have commented on my one, innate ability: to be able to discuss technology at both a business level in addition to a very nuts-and-bolts level.

I was always someone who could have real discussions with non-technology people about strategy, direction and overall IT governance without them looking at me as ‘just a coder’ or ‘engineer’.  At the same time, I can actually act as a technical lead / architect / lead engineer / whatever and execute on whatever vision & direction we needed, which includes actively writing code.

Well, It turns out, that’s a highly desirable, and, apparently, rare skill.  For the past 2-3 years, I’ve been informally helping other CEOs, startup founders and VPs understand their technology needs and requirements, even sometimes partnering with them to build prototypes and plans for their companies.

About 6 months ago, I found a blog by Dr. Tony Karrer called “SoCal CTO“.  His writing really resonated with me.  Two posts in particular, “Startup CTO or Developer” and “Part-Time Startup CTO” seemed to describe what I’ve been doing informally for the past few years.  Dr. Karrer was nice enough to allow me to pick his brain about two months ago.  After that, my mind was made up.  I had a knack for this and it seemed like something I should formalize & pursue.

So with that I’m formally announcing A Part-Time CTO, a boutique consulting service specializing on CTO, Technical Advisor and Assessment level consulting.  I’m focusing on small / medium sized startups who need help with their technology needs, either because they’re current management is non-technical or they’re too focused on the day to day engineering to attack longer term goals and needs.  These clients are not in need of full time, dedicated help because business doesn’t necessarily require it. For example, they employ a outside firm to do all of their development, but they need someone to act as a liaison.  I provide a nice middle ground between not having anyone and trying to justify a full time CTO.

I’ve actually been I’ve been actively seeking clients for the past two months and the response has been overwhelming.  My pitch instantly resonates with founders, both technical and non-technical.  It’s been a fun ride that’s just getting started.  Also, a note to anyone thinks that this is some ivory-tower related role: it’s not.  In most of my clients, it’s a given that I’ll be helping to actively develop in some capacity.

What does this mean for 1530?  Well, 1530 isn’t going anywhere.  A Part-Time CTO is just that: part-time and as needed.  1530 will remain my main endeavor, with A Part-Time CTO augmenting it.  That’s the plan for at least the next 6-9 months.  After that, who knows.  That’s the fun part about being an entrepreneur: you never know where you’ll be at all times.  You just have to kick ass and do a great job when you get there.

In the mean time, head over to the A Part-Time CTO blog, where I’ll be posting about my progress and all things CTO-ish related.  My first post is already up:

Startup Product Development: Simple Now vs. Complex Later

As always, comments and feedback are welcome.  I’d love to hear from other people out there about this. Especially since I’m part-winging this and part making it up as a I go along.