Node.js · Marketplaces

CTO walked just as we got our first big break! What to do?

Boris Kogan Startups and innovation

October 5th, 2016

We've got a slightly buggy MVP of a marketplace for manufacturing and engineering

We just launched a couple of months ago and have almost 100 businesses signed up. Lots of interest.

Last week, our CTO told us that he's tired of the startup life, has a good job offer and can't keep working on the startup.

Just as this happened, someone got in touch with us and said, "this marketplace is exactly what we wanted. Can we pay you some money to re-skin it and deploy it with our name/logo?"

Now we're at a crossroads. We quoted a fairly high price, which they did not say "no" to. This money would fund another six months of debugging, development and growth. But we don't have someone who can do the work. Can anyone recommend a (preferably Israeli) Node.js developer who would be good to work with part-time for six months followed by a CTO offer if all goes well?

Michael Barnathan

October 5th, 2016

One other option to think about: Could your existing CTO contract it, or is he just flat out done? It will take longer if someone new has to ramp up on it.

Michael Barnathan

October 5th, 2016

I'm hesitant to judge the CTO's coding abilities from the information in the parent post. One founder's "slightly buggy" might just be normal stuff you'd expect after a v1 launch, or could reflect the rest of the team pushing back on standard QA processes like automated testing. It is even possible that he did what someone versed in the industry would consider a good job, then walked because the nontechnical people on the team had unrealistic expectations of what was possible / how long things should take / how much rework to expect. There might be another side to this story that we're not seeing.

But whatever the reason, he's gone, so I agree that putting a new team together is the obvious long term step. In the meantime, since there is business, use the resources available to you in order to bridge that gap. That might mean getting the CTO back in on some reduced basis, or hiring a different contractor while you search for talent.

Sheeba Duleep Managing Partner

October 5th, 2016

Hi Boris,

Sorry to hear about your predicament.

If you don't mind a non-Israeli company as technical partners who can help you, we have the team.

We are technical partners to couple of companies who were start-ups many years back and it has been an ongoing development and maintenance relationship for more than ten years.

We have team members with Node.js skills and if you interested, we can talk.

Regards,

Sheeba


Ghazenfer Mansoor

October 5th, 2016

We are VA based firm, specialize in product development. We do node js, java, mobile apps(native as well hybrid). We are AWS consulting partners. Our Dev is in South Asia, but ux, architect is in the usa. 
Lot of our work has been fixing and taking over messed up products and we have done it successfully many times, and have great references.
Ping me if interested.

Ghazenfer Mansoor

October 5th, 2016

One of the first thing Boris mentioned is a buggy MVP. Not sure how strong the foundation is. Many of the developers are good coders (which doesn't seems to be the case here), but they may not be a good CTO. I guess core developer and CTO should be the different people unless your product is core tech platform. 
Going forward, it may be a good thing your CTO quit. Do you want to continue with someone who created a buggy product, and walking out when you landed 100 customers and big contract? No serious startup friendly person will quit at this time, but everyone circumstances are different, so whatever is the case, he is gone. 
I suggest you get a good team that focus on building a strong foundation, and build a scalable product.

Ghazenfer Mansoor

October 5th, 2016

At the same time, white label product deal may be a good option even if the price is not that high. You can offer a lower upfront for customization, and then support that covers both yours and their development. Make sure you negotiate "powered by" display so you get visibility. You don't want someone making money off of your tool on just some flat price deal.

Avi Kehat Senior Developer at Cognilyze

October 6th, 2016

As a developer (Israeli, at that...) who's co-founded start-ups, it doesn't sound like you're offering too much.
I've co-founded projects I've believed in for no pay, but for a full partnership from the start.
Not "a CTO offer in the future if all goes well"...

Another question to ponder is - if you don't have a CTO or a developer, than what DOyou have?
(I don't downplay marketing, but that can't suffice without proper development).

Feel free to contact me in private to continue the discussion...

Gmar chatima Tova!

Boris Kogan Startups and innovation

October 6th, 2016

Avi,

A full partnership from the start makes sense...from the start. But we've spent two years developing the idea, doing market research, hundreds of interviews, pivoting, building an MVP, recruiting the first dozens of users, etc. We know many things we didn't at the beginning, like what it is that users want, how to build it (where to get the pieces,) what order to build it in, where to bring the users from, how to make money from it. That is what we have.

Obviously, without a CTO/developer, this thing is not going to move forward. But on the other hand, we are not in the idea stage, sitting around waving our hands and going "wouldn't it be cool if..."

Since there is money on the table now, it would not make any sense for us to say, "ok, you're a developer, please join us as CTO, sight unseen." I've seen lots of startups end up in a bad place with this approach Some sort of limited project to see if we're right for each other, with the developer getting paid something for his time, makes more sense.

Avi Kehat Senior Developer at Cognilyze

October 6th, 2016

You're right. But so am I :-). ​Good luck!​ ​

Michael Barnathan

October 6th, 2016

Doing something part time for pay seems fair. It doesn't sound like the dev is going cash free during that period.