No-Code, Full-Stack Engineer or CTO: What's Right for Your Project?

A skilled CTO can provide strategic guidance and leadership. Here's why.


Chris Kernaghan

A close up of some code on a screen

Imagine this scenario: You're an entrepreneur without a technical background, positively bursting with a brilliant idea. Maybe even a couple. The catch? Your concept leans heavily on technical intricacies.

Like, really heavily into a whole manner of server-side, client-size technical wizardry. In theory, you know how it's all supposed to come together, but you just haven't got the technical know how to get it off the ground. You have four options at this point.


Are you able to go the no-code route? Do you higher an engineer or perhaps a team of engineers at an agency? What about a CTO?

No-code can be great. In fact, this very website is built using a no-code platform called Webflow. While I do have some technical experience, I wouldn't have enough to build and launch We Are Founders without some no-code help.

However, there are limitations to no-code. At a certain point a technical idea, like the one in our scenario, might become so technical that a no-code platform just isn't suitable.


With the engineer route, that comes with it's own set of risks. Many people think that being good at coding is all it takes to make a startup successful. If you're the founder with the brains, all you need is the brawn of a good engineer, right? Well, not really.

Coding up a quick MVP might do in the short-term, but what about beyond that? Building a successful startup requires more than just technical expertise; it demands a diverse skill set and a holistic approach to problem-solving. While a talented engineer is crucial for bringing your ideas to life, their role is just one piece of the puzzle.


Okay, what about more than one engineer? What about an agency? Well, sure it's an option, an option that might even come with a CTO of sorts, but agencies are notoriously expensive. Startups need to think critically about their cashflow, and bringing an agency on board is a sure fire way to burn through that cashflow quick.

Not to mention you're bringing on a number of people who probably don't share your vision.

That just leaves us with one option, the CTO.

Not All CTO's Are Born Equal

Remember our scenario? You're an entrepreneur without a technical background, positively bursting with a brilliant idea. Maybe even a couple. The catch? Your concept leans heavily on technical intricacies.

So, would a CTO work under these circumstances?

A CTO is a valuable asset for a startup, as they can provide technical vision and leadership, choose and implement the best technologies and solutions, stay ahead of technology trends and potential disruptions, and communicate and collaborate effectively with internal and external stakeholders.

Under these circumstances, sure, a good CTO might be a good choice, so long as you have the capital to hire one of course.

There are some factors you need to remember during the hiring process though. For instance, one big misunderstanding is thinking that hiring anyone who's good at coding can be a CTO.

Coding is important, but a top-notch CTO will understand how startups work and can handle all the challenges that come with starting a business and maintaining a new business.

A good CTO should also have lots of experience, with a knack for helping with picking the right technology, planning product development, and figuring out how to grow. They're often referred to as the glue that holds together the founders' vision, helping it come to fruition.

Plus, a skilled CTO can create a workplace where people feel inspired to come up with new ideas and work together. They encourage learning, sharing ideas, and finding solutions together.

It's about planning, leading, and making sure the startup keeps growing - something that you might struggle to find with the other options on the table.

Recognising the importance of a capable CTO can set a startup up for success in the long run.

Ultimately, it's the CTO's strategic guidance and leadership that really drive early-stage startups forward. Founders should understand this and make sure they have the right person in that role to help their startup thrive.

About The Author

A close up of some code on a screen
Chris Kernaghan

By day, Chris works as a UX Designer, crafting easy-to-use interfaces and ensuring companies focus on what users need. At night, he runs We Are Founders, a platform where founders share inspirational journeys.


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