CTO as a Service: The Ultimate Guide

CTO as a Service (CaaS) is an affordable solution for startups to stay ahead of the competition and tackle business and technical inquiries.

  • CTO

A Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is a senior executive responsible for managing a company's technology needs. They hire and manage teams and set the company's tech goals. CTO as a Service (CaaS) for startups is a trend that makes this position accessible for smaller companies. Unlike traditional CTO services for big firms, CaaS accommodates a startup's budget.

Benefits of CTO as a Service:

  • Stays up-to-date with industry trends & business transformations to implement effective software dev strategies
  • Provides team building support through mentoring, coaching & professional development
  • Reduces operational risks by monitoring budgets, planning resources, & managing crisis, security, and governance
  • Facilitates digital transformation by guiding the company's tech-driven business process improvements.

Different types of CTO services available

There are multiple options for getting CTO services, from hiring a full-time CTO to paying a one-time fee. Understanding the different services available is essential to select the best fit for your company's goals and budget.

  • Full-time Internal CTO: A CTO will join your team and work onsite, focusing on tech innovation and handling tech and business needs.
  • Full-time Offshore CTO: High-quality tech support at a lower cost, with remote work and regular communication.
  • Part-time Offshore/Fractional CTO: Quality tech support at a minimum fee, working only the hours you need.
  • One-time CTO Services: Perfect for specific projects with a fixed cost, often used for technical troubleshooting or audits.
  • Interim CTO: A temporary technical expert hired during the transition when searching for a full-time internal CTO. Ideal for short-term tech needs.

Models of cooperation

There are three main CTO as a Service cooperation models:

CTO Consulting

Ideal for a firm seeking a one-time consultation for tech design and development, which is excellent for when a company needs help choosing a tech stack or when an in-house team faces difficulties during product development. A single fee is charged for each consultation session.

CaaS Fixed Price

Ideal for companies needing ongoing support. Pay quarterly or biannually for the services of a dedicated technical consultant who will help with ongoing plan strategies.

CaaS Time and Material

Perfect for businesses heavily reliant on product development. Pay your CTO hourly, which is ideal for developing new products or tech-related projects.

External CTO as a Service

Benefits of having an external CTO as a Service:

  • Cost Savings: Hiring an external CTO is a budget-friendly solution for startups needing CTO services but can only afford a part-time one. Outsourcing offers all the necessary services without exceeding costs.
  • Pay-per-Use Model: With an external CTO, only pay for services provided. This avoids extra expenses compared to an in-house CTO, which incurs all employment costs.
  • Access to a Wider Talent Pool: Outsourcing grants access to a global talent pool, increasing the chance of finding the right fit for the role and reducing development costs.
  • Unbiased Expert Opinion: An external CTO provides a neutral perspective and professional advice, crucial for making informed decisions and resolving tech and business issues.
  • Improved Agility: With a CTO's input, startups can swiftly address technical and business problems, enhancing the efficiency of their processes and growth. Avoid a lengthy journey and slow progress with a trial-and-error approach.

Drawbacks of having an external CTO as a Service:

  • Communication Difficulties: A remote CTO in a different time zone can lead to communication challenges. Make sure to check their availability and work hours.
  • Management Concerns: Business owners may struggle with letting go of control over projects, but a reliable CTO can help manage responsibilities.

Qualities to look for in a CTO:

  • Technical Expertise: Your CTO must have a strong tech background and be able to demonstrate past work that will benefit your project.
  • People Management: The CTO should have experience leading teams and the ability to resolve conflicts and bring the team around the project.
  • Effective Communication: The CTO must be able to convey technical information to those requiring specialized knowledge.
  • Tech-Savvy: Technology continually evolves, and the CTO should be dedicated to continuous learning and staying up-to-date with advancements in their field.

How much does it cost to hire a CTO?

For example, in the USA, the average cost for the hourly rate of a CTO is $55,25. But, of course, that number might differ depending on which country you are hiring your CTO from.

The average chief technology officer's gross salary in Austria is €118 394 or an equivalent hourly rate of €57 ($61,83). In Germany, they pay at least €84 ($91,11) for an hour of work of the CTO.

Generally speaking, in comparison to the other mentioned countries, hiring a CTO from Eastern Europe is way more affordable.


CTO as a Service (CaaS) is a trend that makes the position of a reliable solution for most business and technical inquiries. It's suitable for various companies but especially beneficial for startups as it provides access to a skilled and knowledgeable professional.


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