Hiring a fractional CTO or fractional engineer vs a Full Time Employee
5 min read
All startups want to hire and retain the best talent. Engineers in a startup make up an important part of the team, obviously in terms of headcount but also cost to the business. Finding a great engineer is about skill, aptitude, team fit, timing, and of course cost. Hiring a great engineer can make a meaningful impact on your roadmap, existing team, and even future talent.
Having worked with some of the best engineers who have shipped amazing products, to millions of consumers or thousands of businesses, we know a thing or two about driving impact. That is why we created Gotta Go Fast.
GGF matches high quality fractional engineers, based on a track record of success (and a lot of times previous working relationships!) with great startups. Working with engineers that have shipped amazing products, worked inside venture scale startups, and know how to build a team makes a huge difference.
Clients and potential clients continue to ask us the important questions - like the ones below - and we wanted to outline why this model makes sense, the quality bar is high, and the economics work for startups.
Does it scale?
A great question we often get is “how does this scale to 1,000 engineers?” and the answer is simple: “it doesn’t”.
This may shock some people, but we specialize in building an incredible bench of fractional engineers, not having thousands of people to place. This means working with people we have relationships with, have personally vetted, and bring into our own community of engineers.
Who are these engineers?
There are simply not enough qualified engineers that have shipped amazing code, at venture scale companies, that want to go back and be employees. The best of the best are starting their own companies, becoming a VP of engineering or CTO, or simply do not have to work anymore.
GottaGoFast engineers are mainly made up of the following; Founder engineers bootstrapping their own startup Engineers that want to work on exciting projects fractionally Engineers that love startups, but want to earn more Taking a break from the startup grind and doing fractional engineering work
Is it worth it?
To answer the question about “worth” and “value” let's look at the two options in front of an early stage founder. Let's say there is a Seed/Srs A company with 10 employees looking to bring on engineer #8 into their team.
Gotta Go Fast engineers have the biggest impact when placed with an existing team of engineers that can be leveled up by working alongside an engineer with a decade of experience in startups. Ideally there is an existing roadmap with designs and a need to add someone new to help them move quicker. Whether this means shipping your next version faster, optimizing a codebase, or general and admin excellence such as catchup up on technical debt or a backlog - GGF engineers can plug in and move quickly.Whether this means shipping your
Option 1: Recruiting/Hiring
(using the median data below from Levels.fyi)
Salary: $200,000 Recruiting agency: 25% of first year salary: $50,000 Benefits/taxes 28% of Salary: $56,000 Equity 0.1%-0.5%: $100,000 Timing: At LEAST 3 months to recruit, interview, transition, ramp
Total: $200K + $50K + $56K + $100K = $406,000 ($33,833 per month with equity value)
Option 2: Gotta Go Fast Fractional Engineer
Salary: $0.00 Recruiting: $0.00 Benefits: $0.00 (1099 contractor) Equity: 0% Timing: Most engineers start in 2-3 weeks (faster with no MSA redlines!)
Total: $20K-$25K per month
That is a monthly burn savings of $8K+ and you can get started this quarter.
How much does it cost to hire a full time engineer?
You don’t have to take our word for it. According to Levels.fyi a software engineer makes about $200K a year. This doesn’t include taxes and benefits paid for by a startup, or equity.
What are the main benefits?
Working with an engineer that has worked at a scaling startup has advantages.
The first is that they are able to contribute solid code, efficient in many ways, based on a track record of contributions and experience in their respective discipline.
The second is that many teams benefit from the tempo or cadence a senior product engineer can bring. Simply gaining the operational efficiency from someone who has been around a high performing startup benefits everyone.
Third is the team fit and cultural benefit. By having a fractional engineer you do not risk valuable equity that can go to the rest of the option pool and employees.
Fourth is having a “founder mindset” on the team. In many cases, GGF engineers are working on their own thing. They are self starters, motivated,, and understand resource management, and can help prioritize engineering work to improve revenue or get to product market fit faster. Instead of other firms that split engineer time across too many projects, our team concentrates on what is in front of them.
Who is behind Gotta Go Fast?
Chances are, we are a lot like you founder friend. We are Jonathan Grana and Eric Friedman - co-founders of GGF and friends since 2016. John has been a CTO 3X and co-founded multiple venture scale startups. He has raised money from some of the best firms, and built world class engineering teams. Eric has been a long time startup investor and operator, including working with John before. They are interested in helping engineers who aren’t interested in dealing with negotiations and sales, and want to focus on code, plug into great startups.
We are builders at heart and excited to be helping talented engineers (and many friends!) find fractional engineering jobs they love. We love helping high growth startups that want to level up their engineering orgs, get through their backlog, and start shipping faster.
If you are interested in joining as an engineer or a client - reach out