CEO won’t hire more developers :(

I’m working as a CTO in a startup. We are working on a mobile app and have to break a few technical challenges. The product involves technologies like machine learning and NLP.

Currently we have a CEO, and COO who don’t understand the code and these technology challenges.

As a lone developer who is responsible for building the entire backend, it is hard to handle this much stress. I tried to convince the CEO and COO, they wouldn’t agree to hire an another programmer.

This week they hired another guy for the operations.

Still, I’m the only one who responsible for the entire code. I don’t know how to handle this much stress. What should i do ?

  • Start saying No! After enough No’s maybe they’ll understand they need more developers..

    Alternatively, ask them to try to code a static website, or something easy to you but difficult for them. Maybe it’ll give them perspective.

  • I think you need to have a very honest conversation with them and provide a value proposition i.e. with 1 dev we’re looking at a XX launch, with 2 we’re looking at XX and maybe at the end of that date the $ is the same they just get their product sooner. Keep bringing this up and share the progress of development & set backs. You need to make the understand.

  • It is very unusual for a software startup to have a CEO, a CTO an another ops person but only one developer. There is something wrong with your ratio of business resources to development resources I think.

    There is an intesting article on questioning the need for a COO in a startup. Just type COO in the search box.

    I am a non-technical founder and CEO of a startup. We also have a mobile client with a server backend and a Web client. I am the CEO, Coo, finance, sales and marketing guy. I have 1 person helping with sales and marketing. On the technical side, we have one CTO and 5 developers. We also have one designer that helps with marketing and product. So the ratio business to tech is 1:3.

    If you want your non technical CEO to understand your pain, you have to speak a language that he will understand: time to release to market, risk, quality, impact on customers. For example, you can say that this new functionality will take 3 weeks to develop; with one more developer you can cut the time to 1 week.

    • That was an interesting article on

      I already discussed things like time to release to market, risk, quality, impact on customers etc with them, But they think they can rise fund before launching it.

  • Tell them how long it’s going to take to reach MVP if you work normal hours.

    It’s not unusual to get stressed working for a startup but you’ve got to be totally honest with your co-founders.

    If they’re both marketers they should understand that ‘product is the ultimate growth-hack’, so explain that product is the most important and they should cut you should slack (not in those words).

    • Previously i worked in ad tech industry, so i wont call call them as marketers. But they believe they can rise funds before launch.

      • Ha! They’re likely misguided, without a launch or serious traction. Tell them the honest truth that a startup can add about $400k in valuation per developer on the team. And to increase valuation through hiring.

        • *some slack (ugh). Ok, so if all they’re bringing to the table is stress and promises of finding investment then they were hired too early. Tell them to chill – the most important thing right now (and always) is building the product.

          All the hype, userbase growth, potential partnerships, etc… all that – is useless without a product. Now, say something like this to your co-founders:

          “When we reach MVP marketing is going to be the driving force of this company, although that’s not something I specialise in I’m looking forward to the point we can bring X to the huge number of people who’ve already signed up.

          However, I think at the moment the most important thing for us to focus on is the product. The only way we can launch X on X date is by hiring another developer. They will cost us around $xx and it will probably take us X long to find them.

          If we don’t hire someone now we’ll most likely launch around X date. I’m also concerned that if we don’t bring on a new team member to speed up development someone else might launch a competing product before us.

          The sooner you hire a new developer the sooner your co-founders can start pulling their weight.

  • First Step

    Make drastic changes to the app that will decrease your workload and put more of the workload into the hands of operation-since your company apparently only has money for operations. Make the app as basic as fuck-to put it simply.
    Second Step

    Released it! When the revenues starts coming in, work at your own pace. If they want greater results after this point they know what they need to do.

    If they keep trying to screw you over after this point it might be good time to wind down your activities and call it quits.

  • My company has 6 engineers and 2 non-engineers. Our next hire would be another engineer. This is because we make stuff. The stuff is very important. We want the stuff to be better than stuff from other companies. The way we make money is that people buy our stuff, and they buy it because it’s better.

    The CEO (and the unnecessary COO) don’t have to understand the tech challenges, but if they don’t respect them, you guys are in for a rough ride and a lot of finger pointing at the end.

    It sounds like you have limited experience managing expectations in a work environment. This is very important skill, I’m sure you can learn it. The basic approach goes like this:

    Everything you are responsible for delivering should be approached as a form of negotiation in which your goal is to lower the expectation to the minimum possible target, and also a target you are supremely confident of hitting (with lots of buffer). If you can over-deliver great.
    No-one else can tell you what is possible for you to do or make you agree to a target (but they will try). Just say no. I understand this is tricky when you are not experienced, but it is a magical experience to watch a seasoned developer handle a situation where they are being pressured to agree to unreasonable deliverables and they gently use their confidence, experience, and scheduling/estimating aikido to avoid committing to anything they are not 100% confident about.
    Once you do agree to deliver, you are completely on the line, even if you were badgered, bullied, and pressured into it. So just say NO. Not saying no, will later be treated as if you said yes. If someone else sets the target and you disagree, write it down, email it, make it known loudly that you “DO NOT BELIEVE THE TARGET IS POSSIBLE” and what resources you do believe would be required.

    It’s seductively easy to let yourself just go along with the consensus and feel like you expressed some doubts and then later have everyone turn around and hold you responsible. With experience, you become very alert to the red flags that this kind of situation is about to develop and you learn to ramp up your emergency prevention measures immediately. If you work with high-quality people, they will also eventually learn that they should trust and respect your estimates even if they really really really wish everything could just be done faster with fewer resources.

    Good luck.

  • Presumably, if they had money to hire an opps person, you have already raised some money? And you have investors who are supposed to be paying attention to problems like the wrong ratio of developers to non-developers at an app start-up? See if they can exert some pressure… after all they might not even know there’s a problem.

  • You are not the only one, this kind of a situation happens often. You should talk to them and try to explain what you feel about your current position. You would need some help with the code, so they would have to find an experienced developer with is a very hard task sometimes. There’s a way they can do it easily and spend less money, try reading this article and if you like it, show it to them:

  • Happens all the time! Unfortunately, companies do not always plan the budget right. As a result, a project can become a headache. Sure thing no one wants to pay more than necessary but it comes at another price, quality, time, etc.. For anyone who has this problem – I’d recommend getting acquinted with outstaffing, the hiring model – source. Should make your CEO more open to hire another specialist and get the job done.

  • … [Trackback]

    […] There you will find 23210 additional Info on that Topic: […]

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    You may also like