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How to Hire a CTO or CPO for a SAAS Without Breaking the Bank

by Victor Purolnik
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Today, we’ll be showing you how to hire a CTO or CPO for your SaaS business without breaking the bank, by understanding exactly what a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and a Chief Product Officer (CPO) do and distributing those responsibilities within your tech team effectively and then bringing in the support you need for those high-level highly complex tasks in the form of Fractional leadership.

If you run a SaaS company and need a professional CTO, CPO, or head of product—one of those critical leadership roles that demand substantial experience, such as managing a start-up or a scale-up with a reputable track record—you might be facing a significant challenge.

To hire a CTO or CPO full-time, especially in the United States, the salaries can range anywhere between $200,000 – $500,000 a year with no upper limit.

That’s an enormous expense for most bootstrapped SaaS companies, even those that have achieved product-market fit.

The Cost-Effective Solution

So what’s the trick?: To distribute the responsibilities of these high-level roles to people you already have on your team and seek external support through a Fractional CTO or CPO for the critical tasks that require extensive experience.

Trustshoring: Your Partner in Building Productive Dev Teams

Before diving deeper, let me quickly talk about Trustshoring, and what we do. We help companies build productive remote development teams by offering three key services:

  1. Recruitment: We recruit local or remote developers and other product roles or match companies with trusted software houses.
  2. Fractional Leadership Access: We provide access to top-notch fractional CTOs and CPOs.
  3. Development Analysis and Advice: We analyze clients’ development setups, processes, structures, and teams, offering advice on enhancing productivity.

Since 2016, we have assisted over 300 companies. If you’re interested in personalized advice, feel free to book a call with us! We’d be happy to chat!

Breaking Down the Roles

Now, let’s return to the main topic and break down what these roles entail.

CTO (or Tech Lead)

At a SaaS company past product-market fit and in growth mode, the CTO’s responsibilities include:

  • Defining coding standards
  • Building, owning, and managing infrastructure and DevOps
  • Conducting code reviews
  • Defining the architecture
  • Answering developers’ questions
  • Coaching junior team members
  • Interviewing and vetting new candidates

You can split this role between a lead developer, who handles most of these tasks, and an experienced fractional CTO. The fractional CTO can provide initial consulting, set up complex systems, and offer ongoing coaching to the lead developer and the rest of your team.

CPO (or Head of Product)

The CPO or product lead is responsible for:

  • Defining what needs to be built and in what order, guided by mission, vision, and customer feedback
  • Creating the roadmap
  • Collaborating with designers and others to define upcoming work, documented at a high level
  • Establishing the development process
  • Managing day-to-day delivery

This role can be divided into a good UI/UX designer and a project manager (if you have more than a few developers). A fractional CPO can offer initial consulting, help with prioritization, define the roadmap, and coach the project manager or UI/UX designer on their responsibilities.

Leveraging Fractional Leadership

While fractional CTOs and CPOs can still be pricey —typically ranging from $200 to $400 an hour—the key is that you can limit their involvement to as little as one hour per week. At the high end, this translates to $400 a week or about $1,600 a month, which is far more affordable than a full-time salary of $200K a year or more.

By distributing the remaining responsibilities to existing team members or hiring less expensive roles abroad, you can maintain high standards and efficiency without exorbitant costs. Yes, having an in-house, full-time, local CTO or head of product is ideal, but fractional leadership can come pretty close and save you significant money.

If you have any questions about how a Fractional CTO or CPO can help your business? Maybe you’d like to hire for the said product roles to augment your team. Book a call with us today! We’d love to hear from you!

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Create a free plan for growth

Speak to Victor and walk out with a free assessment of your current development setup, and a roadmap to build an efficient, scalable development team and product.

“Victor has been great. Very responsive and understanding and really knows his stuff. He can go the extra mile by tapping into his prior experiences to help your company out. Really enjoyed working with him.”

Matthew Molter

Founder of Agency360

Victor Purolnik

Trustshoring Founder

Author, speaker, and podcast host with 10 years of experience building and managing remote product teams. Graduated in computer science and engineering management. Has helped over 300 startups and scaleups launch, raise, scale, and exit.

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