I recently joined the LondonCTOs meetup group and has been invited to talk to one of their event earlier this week. The event was organised in the building on SkillsMatters on London. The theme of the talk was about company growth and the challenges faced by CTO.

My presentation was about sharing my experience over the last 10y at Cyber-Duck, and how my role has evolved through the various growth phases.

  • In startup mode in the first couple of years was all about getting projects out of door, building stable systems and trying lots of various technologies (we used to use Drupal, ZenCart, no source control repos and shared VPS for hosting)
  • The consolidation phase came as we hired more developers, when we started implementing SVN repo, shared database and decided to focus on PHP development
  • Then comes expansion, where the challenges are to scale the existing infrastructure and resources
  • Finally the dominance, where a long term vision and innovation is required to stay ahead of the game

One common point about the role is that Technology is actually not the critical pillar to success. I realised that Technology accounts for 10% of my role nowadays, with 20% dedicated to Processes and 70% to People management. More than just resourcing, most of a leaders time is spent building a team, a culture and ensuring efficiency at all phases of a product delivery.

Slides are available on Slideshare and below:

The other talk of the evening was delivered by Joshua Whole from SuperAwesome and was covering his experience of growing the company from 2 to 15 developers in couple of years. He shared with us his recommendations of "only hiring people you know" for the first few years. He is also organising yearly “Hack Week” abroad where the entire team of developers is working for a full week in a remote sunny location (Lisbon, Barcelona…). This seems to be very productive (as the team is focused on a particular feature on an existing product, whilst being available on Slack for any emergency in the office) and excellent team bonding exercise, whilst cost effective with the help of cheap flights and AirBNB!

If you have any feedback or comments, get in touch!