Does A Startup Need A Full-Time CIO For Making Investors Happy?


Here's the scenario: there's a startup with two founders (and a couple of other participants) in it working part-time while keeping their full-time, primary jobs. They are building a healthcare-related SaaS application. They have been developing the vision and have actually recently got to the point where:

a) they have a handful of signed
beta participants, contracted to
turning into paying clients in 3-6
months after v1.0 is launched in a
couple of months,

b) have successfully graduated from
an entrepreneurial program very
similar to Y Combinator with lots of
investors now sniffing about, and

c) have a great, positive pipeline
ready to close.

They are going to have to raise funding soon to staff and ramp up. One founder is ready to go full-time as soon as money is raised, another is not so ready for various reasons. Primarily, the latter strongly believes the dollars should go towards getting more staff first, then hiring execs shortly thereafter. The latter's dedication is not the issues; he's been putting in mean hours for months.

The latter is the guy basically building the whole platform: the guy who'll be CIO. The former is the sales/marketing side, the guy who'll be CEO.

Do investors need to see these two founders as full-time in the business to feel better about investing in it? Does the guy who knows the most right now about the systems and service need to be locked in an employment contract, or is the equity arrangement enough? What do investors expect when it is said "they want to see a good idea and a solid team in a startup"?

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asked Nov 12 '10 at 05:34
1,383 points
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4 Answers


C-Titles seems to be a bit heavy for any startup under 10 employees, I understand the need for legal purposes, But for Investor's ..??.. .

Check an earlier post on

answered Nov 12 '10 at 16:37
Shree Mandadi
599 points
  • The information in your second link made the most sense to me. I think anyone in at this point is a founder with differing schedules and contributions, with commensurate equity positions. – Alphadogg 13 years ago


I tend to believe that investors want to know that both founders are committed to the effort. I'm unclear if Tech founder is - "not so ready for various reasons" doesn't sound that strong.

Anyone can have an idea - it takes someone to deliver that idea, have it go through several iterations, and ultimately validate what the customer wants. That doesn't sound like it can be done with the one founder - so I wouldn't consider that a fundable "solid team".

NB > both don't need to be full time right now, they need to be willing to commit 150% of their time post funding - or you have to have a real compelling case to why you believe that taking their money and working part-time on a project will yield them great results.

answered Nov 12 '10 at 15:03
Jim Galley
9,952 points
  • Not sure why you got downvoted? At any rate, he's committed! He's up till midnight every night coding, weekends too, and making time to be on sales pitches during the day. The issue is his status as sole income provider for his family, and his strong belief that every dollar should go towards getting other devs and help desk people hired rather than a salary for him. – Alphadogg 13 years ago
  • Investors probably would want some sort of paper commitment that would define the conditions needed for him to xfer full-time - esp. since he's a critical component to success. He does sound actively involved, but many investors may not consider him "committed to the project" since he has no downside if it fails. I totally understand where he's coming from - but investors want returns and are usually not as understanding. – Jim Galley 13 years ago


Most startups dont require investors, let alone a CIO. If you are a huge startup based on lots of investor money then the CEO usually is the CIO until you are large enough. I think its a position to have just before getting a CRE, (down the latter)

answered Nov 12 '10 at 20:11
2,079 points
  • Generally, I agree with you. However, we are already successful with our product. We don't need investors, but if we had some, our growth rate would be an order of magnitude better right away rather than only on our own means. From my previous startup experience, I believe this is actually a good time to get an investor. – Alphadogg 13 years ago
  • You can actually find someone who would consider doing this work for you for a fee. They could find investors, for a % of the investment raised. This is not that hard to do with a successful and financially viable startup if you have the right connections. As for managing those investors it depends on your investment structure. A simple monthly update may be enough, in more complicated cases where you have profit-sharing or dividends you may want to do monthly calls. I still feel that this is best done by the CEO in a small company. Last thing i would want as an investor is to talk to a – Frank 13 years ago
  • "filter" CIO who's job is to only handle investments. I want to talk to the CEO, and the main operations folks. If its a web startup I want to talk to the developers, junior and senior. i want to talk to the customer service and help desk folks. That way, i can influence the company to be more successful by takin in the full picture. Usually the CIO and CFO positions in a corporation are a bit more restricted to all operations. That is the way I have seen it, could be different in any company. – Frank 13 years ago


If it matters, investors only need to "see" your team when pitching, it doesn't matter that they are not in an office working full time. So if you feel like you need a "solid team" try and arrange these meetings at a time when the full team is available.

What do investors expect when it is said "they want to see a good idea and a solid team in a startup"?

It means they want to be sure you have an idea that can make money and a team that can support your idea making money.

I suggest you also check out this post which may help with answering some of your questions:
Should I add people before looking for funding

answered Nov 12 '10 at 09:04
1,257 points

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