All Startups Need Great CTOs – the Visionary Leaders in Tech

What makes a great CTO? Going through more than 20 CTO job descriptions posted on several job sites, “great communication skills,” “leadership” and “strategic thinking” are as widely required as the advanced technical skills. Indeed, CTOs’ roles are varied and far beyond simply administering the tech team. In fact, it’s crucial for a CTO to share the same dream and vision with the co-founders in order to build an amazing product, especially in an R&D-based company.

The difference between an average CTO and a great CTO is that the latter is a visionary and a dreamer.” – Iulian Serban, CTO@Korbit

Despite the recent economic downturn, EdTech startup Korbit has doubled in size. Since the very beginning, co-founder Dr. Iulian Serban has been wearing both hats: CEO and CTO. With the company expanding at a rapid pace, managing a growing team without working together can be  really challenging. Communications and visionaries are the two things that matter now, maybe more than ever.

Great Tech Leaders that Makes Sci-fi Dreams Come True

“An average CTO will look at an empty field and imagine building a house and garden. A great CTO will look at the same empty field and imagine building a city with skyscrapers and flying cars – a utopian society yet to be described in any science fiction novel.” Seban further stated what quality will make an excellent technical executive, “The major difference between an average CTO and a great CTO is that the latter is a visionary and a dreamer.

Meetings are Inevitable: Revisit the Traditional Communication Method

Everyone knows work-chat apps – like Slack – are great: instant, short, rapid chit-chat that give the team an impression that “We are still working together! Hang on, buds!” However, Serban has found “meetings” – this new-but-classic communication method – is increasingly important when a CTO needs to orchestrate the entire team during the Great Lockdown 2020. “It’s very much my responsibility to hold everyone accountable and I need to make sure no one has forgotten the goals or lost motivations over this difficult time.”

He added that posting daily updates on Slack, overviewing each other works on Github and other platforms helped the working process but none of these was as essential as setting up weekly meetings among the teams. “Things move fast in a startup. It’s a must for us to review our results, adjust the process and establish new goals every single week. Having e-meetings is not some kind of innovative idea, but a good coordination and time management of these meetings matters a lot, especially when you wish to persuade your teammates to stay attentive and bring brilliant thoughts to the table.”

“Connecting your team with effective meetings, you will achieve to build a utopia rather than a simple garden with the help of your coworkers.” Missing this key of success will lead to great repercussions on the productivity of the team and therefore the company, thus a foreseeable failure, Serban concluded.

Take on Two Roles to Help the Startup to Kick-start

Even though other executives from the same panel suggested the young entrepreneurs not to start a company as both a CTO and another executive role, Serban’s 3-year survival of serving as a CEO and a CTO shows the possibility for one to handle two great responsibilities as long as she or he is working with an appropriate organization and a supportive team. He explained that it’s not always possible for a company to find the perfect candidate for the CTO position, or it simply did not have the budget for that. “To resolve this challenging matter, a founder may have to step in and take on a second role – 2 roles together absolutely requires more contributions and devotions – until the startup gets enough fundings or ultimately decides to search for someone to take over. This is a common reality for startups, but it can be handled appropriately with proper planning.”

Panel Next AI – “In the head of CTO”

Next AI organized this panel discussion to empower CTOs. In this section, panellists Iulian Serban, Eryk Warren and Mathieu Hamel shared their experience, knowledge, and vision with honesty in order to give concrete advice to young entrepreneurs. 

Interested in hearing Korbit’s Startup Survival Stories?†

Iulian Serban, Co-Founder@Korbit, will be the guest speaker in Le Wagon Talk at 6:30 pm, 22 July. Iulian will share his entrepreneurial adventures, and intriguing stories about keeping the team alive over the pandemic period. Save the date!