Cofounder · Fundraising

How do you decide on titles between cofounders?

Varun Gupta Sr. Front-End Developer at Code Brew Labs

Last updated on February 10th, 2017

My cofounders and I (there are 3 of us) have been working on an app for about a year now that helps university students study. We have an MVP and some initial friends & family capital but nothing major.

Our backgrounds are in finance, engineering, and marketing/sales. At this point we want to raise a real round of financing to take things to the next level from a team and product perspective. We’re in agreement that before we do that, we need to decide on titles, so investors take us seriously. We each contribute different amounts of work, expertise, and money.

What should we be considering when we decide who is CEO? What are the other titles we should consider for the non-CEO founders? Does the technical person definitely need to be CTO?

Victoria Atherstone Co-founder & CEO at Briefcase Business Broadcast

February 12th, 2017

Hi Varun, it seems to me you have the perfect mix of management team - why don't you call yourselves; Co-founder & CTO, Co-founder & CMO and Co-founder & CFO. As for picking the CEO I would consider... who is the strongest natural leader, who has the greatest vision for the company and who is most committed to the cause - if the same name keeps coming up that to me would be your CEO - good luck with the biz!

Daniel Curran

February 11th, 2017

CEO=best salesperson. CTO=off the charts coder who can also manage them. Hire smarter coders as u gain traction. CFO devises bus model & helps the CEO raise. CPO=carries out CEO's product vision.

Irwin Stein Very experienced (40 years) corporate,securities and real estate attorney.

February 10th, 2017

The CEO has specific duties and responsibilities. The person best suited to handle those should be the CEO. If you do not know what those duties are, then hire someone who does.

Robert T. Sill Successful CEO who built something from nothing.

February 10th, 2017

Hi Varun, the Chief Executive is the leader of the company. It is his/her fiduciary duty to execute the powers of the office in the best interest of the company and stockholders. All C-level positions have legal obligations so I believe that point needs to be carefully addressed within your team. If none of the founders are interested in accepting this responsibility, then it would be wise to find a seasoned external resource (or resources) who can effectively execute this position. If there is a concern in your team about compensation for the founders, there are ways of addressing stock ownership to protect personal contributions. Hope this helps!

Efuet Andrew Atem

February 10th, 2017

I would have loved to elaborate on this, but I think others have done a great job elsewhere, so I will just refer you to the articles on Quora.

How do you decide titles in a startup

How do I decide my designation in a startup?

Differences between VP titles and CXO titles?

What is the best advice for a young, first-time startup CEO?

Good luck and thanks for asking

Bill Crandall Founding Partner, Chief Marketing Officer at Steadman Crandall Business Development, LLC

February 11th, 2017

Dear Varun ... Each of the co-founders should be called Founding Partner plus some additional title describing their basic function and role in the company. For example, Founding Partner & CEO, Founding Partner & COO, Founding Partner & CFO, Founding Partner & CIO, or Founding Partner & CMO. You could name somebody President instead of COO, but what's the point in that beyond ego? The CEO should be the person with the broadest knowledge across all aspects of your company, with the manner and style to be the public face and voice of your enterprise. Hope this helps. Bill Crandall, Founding Partner & CMO, Steadman Crandall Business Development LLC

Tim Berthold Keep it simple. Grow wisely.

Last updated on February 12th, 2017

Right now everyone's title should be Chief Customer Finder.

Investors will take you seriously when you have customers.


Gareth Hughes Pursue your passion, enjoy life, give back.

February 20th, 2017

Rather than titles, focus on responsibilities. Write down who is going to lead the various key activities to drive your company. While it's typical for early stage startups to have the founding team do many of the tasks together, one person needs to be the main point person for each task. More than likely, once you list the responsibilities, the titles will become apparent.

Manish Mohta Opportunities are everywhere - be the solution

February 11th, 2017

Dear Varun,

Based on your description of the stage of the Company - I would say titles really should not be a key priority issue - continuing to enhance the product and building on the value is what should really be the focus. You are all Co-founders and will always remain the same.

Once you get to a stage where you need to make those decisions - as others have pointed out, CEO should be the one who can best represent the vision of the Company to outsiders...especially the investors and really has to someone who has the best speaking and selling skills. It does not matter what the background is...also being in the bootstrap mode, the finance person should act more like a COO rather just building the financial models. I have seen titles like Chief Product Officer for the technical founder as he would define the product vision and the sales guy can down the line be the Chief Revenue Officer. Again, this is not where you seem to be right now but always good to have some clarity and be ready to have those responses if they come up in the fund raise process.

At this stage, you probably should even consider an external CEO/Mentor who can keep the three of you focused and be a sounding board in defining where you want the company to be at certain time milestones.

Hope this helps.

kraig Into ICOs, fintech and saas

February 17th, 2017

Buffer went two years without C-level titles. Worry about when your investor says he needs the titles before he will invest and thats all that's holding him back.

I think I will call myself tea boy or grand poobah or PHB or 'operative' or 'clerical officer' depending on how serious a title the situation warrants.,