growing management team – some thoughts

So I recently brought a CTO onboard with TSYS. This has been a very good thing , it frees me up to focus on building redwood and fundraising the three massive funds. I’ll do a series of posts on that in the future.

I’ve also been handing off more CFO functions from myself to my COO/CFO (who also takes a daily ops role for Axios and really helped get that going).

Now that things are stabilizing , it’s critical to establish a proper team and hand off.

Here’s my “guide” on how to do that, basically just documenting what I’ve done . I’ll focus on CTO, since the CFO handoff has been continuous really and highly dynamic . I work very closely with my CFOO daily, she’s been with me since the beginning. There are some specific functions I’m handing off and that’s a blog post of its own, in proper LLC administration and some formation gotchas.

Ok enough qualifiers , let’s get to the actual subject!

1) have a one on one with the CTO. Cover personal matters , CEO/CTO relationship, areas of responsibility etc . Establish a solid relationship , make clear the empowerment and transfer taking place . Push CTO to hold you firmly in your lane and not come back and try to be CTO.

2) brief CTO on material risk and operational matters. They’ll be briefing the board on those matters instead of you at the next board meeting , so the CTO had best be fully informed AND EMPOWERED. The buck must stop with them. Keys must be handed over. This is for continuity reasons and for the CEO to truly hone focus and not be involved in product. Obviously this has to be done at the right time. Most startups try to start with a CTO. We didn’t , we hyper focused on direct customer to product/engineering conversations , demos, feedback etc. we were staring with a consumer product , the PocketOffice. So that made sense. With pocketoffice being ready for handing off to consultants to prepare for manufacturing, we are moving into a more complex product area (and have grown / refocused engineering along with that), a CTO coming on board makes sense.

3) have a transfer of power meeting with engineering , the new CTO and a member of the board present. It must be clear up and down the chain that the new CTO is the contact point. Leave the CEO alone , he’s got money raising todo.

Also of course , the CTO was vetted and approved by all of engineering and my outside counsel prior to being asked to join. Dinners were had etc. recruitment and true handoff is a delicate thing and must be done right.

Hopefully this post helps other bootstrapping CEOs to grow their management team.

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